UMAMI MART MATSURI FESTIVAL


As you've seen from my previous posts, my current apartment has a nice-sized balcony, which gets wonderful sunlight. I make the most out of this luxury by hosting barbeque dinners, and make my own dried mushrooms and umeboshi. When you have outdoor space, you gotta grow some vegetables, right?

Here are my babies:



I brought back shiso seeds from Japan (probably illegal), and planted them.



Since you are supposed to have one or two stems per pot, I've been plucking these small guys out to use as micro green for garnish. Pretty convenient.

Shiso used to be sold solely at Japanese grocery stores, in small packs of about 10 leaves. Now throughout the summer at the Greenmarket (NYC's farmers' market), you can buy a bundle of them for very cheap, so it's almost unnecessary to keep shiso in your vegetable garden. But I am growing them specially for their seeds at the end of the season.

Ah, this is my prize piece of the season:



I was at Mitsuwa about a month ago, and there were guys outside who were selling seedlings of Japanese vegetables. Guess who it was?? It was the one and only Mr. Suzuki of Suzuki Farms. If you live in East Coast, you know who Mr. Suzuki is. The farm is in Delaware, and they grow Japanese vegetables (apparently they've been doing it for 26 years) and thanks to them, the Japanese vegetable supply is so much better now here in the northeast. Now we can buy fresh daikon with its own leaves, which is pretty nice.

Anyhow, he was selling seedlings of okra, nasu (eggplant), shiso, pepper, etc. Nasu drew my interest, and he told me each seedling will yield 50 Japanese nasu during the season. I bought two of them, which should yield 100 Japanese nasu this summer! Let's see how it goes. They are growing crazy, and the nasu flower is very cute.



Do you know myoga? It is a little ginger-like vegetable to put on top of many dishes.



It's the second most expensive Japanese vegetables you can get here (next to fresh wasabi), and each piece costs $4. Some lucky people are growing them in their backyard and apparently myoga is very easy to grow. Through a black market connection, I got myoga rhizomes. Sure enough, they are growing so tall, and hopefully it will yield much myoga this summer.



Finally, these are shiso from last year's planting.



For some reason, second year shiso doesn't have much flavor, so I've been using them as garnish. Eventually I will plant the other shiso here to grow.

Growing vegetables are fun, especially when all you have to do is to water them (and a once a week feeding).