“Gardens are a form of autobiography.” Discuss

So I have now been in Okinawa for a year. During about half of that time I have endeavored to grow vegetables. I compare the vicissitudes of the garden to my overall Okinawan experience.

June 25 2011 - Pioneer spirit

Thanks to Natori san I gain the right to use a patch of land near Kina Banjo for horticultural ends

Brave New World

I have done much gardening in the past and so enter the project with confidence and no little arrogance.

High apple pie in the sky hopes

I dig it over and plant, though admittedly late in the season, what I would plant in Europe or the USA. Beans, carrots, aubergine, peppers, some flowers, onions, tomatoes, radishes, including the mighty Daikon http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daikon, and of course Beni Imo the famed Okinawan purple sweet potato.

No problem

Everything goes very well, plants sprouts, the weather is perfect if a little hot and then comes the typhoon. Four days of a trillion mph winds and twenty feet of rain devastate the garden. The only survivor is the Beni Imo.

Apres le deluge

I replant. More aubergine, peppers, tomatoes but now also cauliflowers and cabbage. The Benii Imo prospers.

This is when my lens started acting up.

However now we are dealing with extreme heat and despite much watering the leaves shrivels and basically everything dies – except for the Beni Imo, which just goes from strength to strength

Say not the struggle naught availeth, The labour and the wounds are vain, The enemy faints not, nor faileth, And as things have been they remain.

 

The more or less total harvest

I  realize that I have got things badly wrong. The idea that the growing season should be April – September  is of course misconceived. The time to grow stuff is in the winter. There remains two last great hopes. Potatoes, which I have been growing for decades and of course the Beni Imo harvest. I plant 40 seed potatoes .

This what came up

Due to an exceptionally wet Fall the seed rotted in the ground and about 3 plants came up.  There is always the Beni Imo.

Wait, I did get some reasonable cauliflowers.

So Yysterday I harvest the Beni Imo. The growth has been spectacular and I anticipate a pile of tubers and bring many bags in which to ship them home.

Before

After

The crop

Deception! A lot of show on top but only a very  few slightly wormy tubers in the soil.

I sheepishly put away my garbage bags and put the entire harvest into a small Starbucks bag. It is half full.

Feed the Family?

So has my Okinawan gardening experience been mirrored by my overall Okinawan living experience? Well er yes in as much as many preconceived ideas have proven to be wrong. In as much as constant inquisitiveness and curiosity have been the best vectors to progress. In as much as the process has been as valuable as the result.

My garden saga has basically not been a success but the pleasure  of gardening and the anticipation  of bounty have outshone the setbacks. This is where the gardening and living analogy stumbles for I have not only enjoyed life on the island enormously over the last year but  have also met with some success.

Next year the garden will match. “G0d Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed it is the purest of human pleasures. It is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man; without which, buildings and palaces are but gross handiworks;” Bacon

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2 Responses to “Gardens are a form of autobiography.” Discuss

  1. ben says:

    no not the beni emo. so sad but so funny.

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