Hello Old Gardening Friends!

bizydiggin(7 OKC)July 26, 2013

Hi all!

Don't know how many of you remember me. My husband is in the Navy and for a few years we were stationed in OKC. I met a few of you (George and Susan,and many others) at a spring plant swap once.

It's been a few years since I've been back. We were transferred to California for a few years, and have recently transferred to Japan.

You guys were so helpful when we were in OKC, helping me learn the climate, identifying butterflies (and weeds) as well as just teaching me some basic gardening skills, that I was hoping you could help me out some more.

The plants varieties in Japan are bred to produce very small fruits, At least the ones I have found here in the Tokyo area. I'm sure there are many reasons for it, but it doesn't quite satisfy the American appetite! My largest tomatoes are the size of nickels, and my eggplants are slightly larger than my car keys.

I was hoping that maybe some of you would be willing to share a few seeds that I can use next year. Our climates are somewhat similar as far as heat, but I do get more rainfall in the spring.

I'm more than happy to purchase any Japanese seed varieties that you might desire in exchange for some seeds. Any extra seeds that I get, I'll share with friends on base, so nothing will be wasted!

Thanks guys! Sure have missed y'all....


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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hi Courtney!

Well, I certainly do remember you and your family. It is so lovely to hear from you. I imagine the girls are all grown up now and your "little man" is probably older now than I think he is. How the years fly by! As always, please tell your husband we appreciate his service to our country and we appreciate the way you and the kids support him by traveling to the ends of the earth with him.

I'd be happy to send you seeds as long as it is legal to do so. Most countries have restrictions on plant material being mailed into their country, and a lot of them dont allow it. Have you checked into Japan's laws in this regard?

Why don't you list the varieties you want if there are specific varieties you're wanting to grow.

I grow (somewhat ironically, I guess) a Japanese variety called Momotaro (which also is sometimes sold in the USA as "Tough Boy"). It produces great quantities of pink, medium-sized tomatoes with great flavor. I've grown it several times in the last decade. It is a hybrid with very good disease tolerance although there are no " VFNTT" type initials after its name to show what disease tolerance is bred into it. This year I grew another Japanese variety called Odoriko and it is much smaller-fruited but also a tasty variety.

I wonder if the size of the fruit from Japanese varieties is related more to their climate (if it is hot and humid much of the growing season, the smaller-fruited ones would set fruit better than the larger-fruited ones) or to something else? Have you found a place there to buy seeds or do you have to buy transplants?

What is your growing season like? What month do y'all plant there and how long is your frost-free season? Do y'all get consistent rainfall during the growing season?

After a couple of horrific drought years in 2011 and 2012, we're having a decent summer here for a change. Much of OK has had decent rainfall quite often this summer. It rained hard in some areas last night, it has just started raining down here in south central OK this morning and parts of normally-parched western OK have flash flooding this morning, while much of the rest of the state is under a flash flood watch. For at least this year, it actually is raining in OK in July.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 9:55AM
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bizydiggin(7 OKC)

Hi Dawn!

Oh my... to catch up on the kiddos! My oldest is now married and lives in Marlow, OK. She has two babies (eeek! I'm a Grandma!) and a wonderful husband that provides for her to stay home with the boys and be an amazing Mom.

The younger daughter decided to join the Navy. We dropped her off at boot camp on Mother's Day last year (best/worst Mother's Day ever!) and in December she got orders to Japan as well. She is stationed at a base about 30 miles away from us. It's been so nice having her close, and it's incredible how much she has matured since joining the Navy. She gets promoted to E4 in a couple weeks, and a very good friend of ours that we were stationed at Tinker with will be "pinning" her new rank on her. The planets all aligned so that our friend's ship will be in port that week. The friend is also female, and is my daughter's Navy Mentor, so it's makes it a very special event.

My son just turned 9, spoiled to the max since he's an "only child" now. He's adjusted so well to living in Japan. He has several Japanese friends, and is learning Japanese in school, so I sometimes have him translate for me when we go off base. He's learned how to properly bow, and the older women giggle at him when he bows and says "Domo arigat┼Źgozaimashita" (thank you very much). He's also figured out that he gets reward with a piece of candy for it sometimes. LOL

Winters are not harsh here at all. This year was considered wet, and only once did it get below freezing. I have a Bruugmansia that lost it's leaves, but it's recovered well, and is about two weeks away from blooming. So lucky to have it, the previous residents were told to remove it before we moved in, so he cut it to the ground and covered it with dirt for me. It's at least 8 feet tall now! So beautiful!

Glad to here Ok is finally getting some decent weather! I was so distraught to see the damage in Moore in May. That was very close to where we used to live and it took awhile for me to get a hold of some family in Yukon and Tuttle areas to make sure they were all okay. My husband I often talk about where we want our "forever home" to be when he's done with his Navy time, and over and over we talk about coming back to Oklahoma! There's so much to love about OK, but the strength of the community as witnessed after the storm is what makes Oklahoma so special!

The local garden center started selling starter plants in Feb/March. I bought what I could recognize buy their leaves. The labels are all in kanjii. I need many more years experience before I'll be able to read kajii. LOL If it was in romanic alphabet, I could pop it into "Google" and figure it out.

I think the size of the vegetables I'm seeing are related to the amount space most gardeners have available to for growing. We are in a suburb of Tokyo. Having a yard is rare here! Most people have an area about 3'x3' to work with, but the large marjority of people live in high rise apartment buildings, and have a very small balcony area for potted plants. They also use the balconies for drying their laundry, which is quite odd when you're not accustomed to see a 10 story building with every apartment having clothing and bedding hanging on a balcony.

A little google research has shown me that seeds for commercial growing are extremely regulated. Obviously they want to avoid cross breeding and disease, so they require a "Phytosanitary Inspection Certificate" at the growing site when the seeds pass through customs.

I will check with our local post office though. Since I'm not a commercial grower, and all my mail is received through the US Postal Service, I might not have the same restrictions.

Thank you for bringing it to my attention!

I will do a little more research and if I find out it okay without any problems, then I'll let you know what seeds I'm interested in.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 10:26PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Thanks for updating us on the family. I knew your daughters would be young women now...and I am so delighted that each of them is at a happy place in their lives. As a parent, that is all you hope for....just that they will be happy, will follow their dreams and will be well. It sounds like they are doing great. As for the "little man", he continues to seem so old beyond his years, does he not? It sounds like he is quite the charming young gentleman there in Japan, and I think it is so marvelous that he is learning Japanese.

I had wondered about the space available for gardening, since space is at such a premium there, and was thinking you must have more space available than the average gardener there. All the Japanese watermelons (famous for being grown in glass or plastic boxes to shape them to fit in small fridges and famous for being delicious and incredibly expensive) I've ever seen and grown have produced pretty small melons, so I felt like the tomato issue might be the same. I'm growing a Japanese watermelon this year called Hime Kansen.

To get an idea of what tomato varieties you might be seeing there, you could look at the websites of some of the US seed companies that sell some oriental seeds. I know at least some of the varieties they sell are from Japan. One of my favorites is Kitazawa Seed, and I'll link their website below.

People in Oklahoma are strong and tough, and I think much of that comes from the 90 different ways the weather here can wreck our homes, gardens, etc. The lives lost in these storms and the massive destruction was just heartbreaking, but as always, the people have pulled together to help one another recover. When y'all are through roaming the world with the U. S. Navy, I hope you come home to Oklahoma. (After all, that is where your grandchild lives!)

I wondered how cold it gets there and am happy to hear that your winters seem pretty mild.

If we cannot mail seeds, maybe I can get the seeds in the hands of someone who is traveling your way in the future and they can bring them to you, if there is a legal method for doing so.

Another option, if we find we cannot get around the import restrictions, would be to find someone who can ship you seeds there. I think your best shot in that regard might be a French, Italian or British seed company. Some of them do ship to various foreign nations, though I don't know if Japan is one of the nations to which they ship seeds.

I'm glad your brug came back from the severe pruning, and think it was a wonderful gesture on top of the previous resident to save it for you! They are one of my favorite plants in the world. Mine are about 10 years old now, but I grow them in containers to protect them from the very cold temperatures in winter. Mine often go through recurring bloom cycles in winter and it is nice to have them blooming when so little else is in bloom. I drag those big old containers into the garage at night if I am expecting temperatures lower than about 20 degrees. Sometimes it gets so cold in the unheated garage that they suffer some cold damage and drop their foliage and flowers, but quickly put out new growth. The temperature that seems to get mine is about 15-18 degrees, and it has to be going down to 10-15 degrees outdoors to get down to 15-18 in the garage.

Let me know what you find out about getting seeds to you.


Here is a link that might be useful: Kitazawa Seed

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 12:07PM
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