Thursday, 31 May 2012

Edosaki Kabocha

Kabocha was created based on the buttercup squash and may be called Japanese pumpkin. It is green outside and orange inside when ripe and maybe about 20cm in diameter. Edosaki is the name of the town nearest our home. We can see the town from the elevated plateau we live on, but it takes about an hour to walk there.
The ground is well cultivated and then vinyl sheeting is stretched over a slightly elevated one meter wide plateau. Holes in the vinyl have the little kabocha plants planted. Each is covered with a little white styrofoam hat and hoops and clear vinyl are stretched around the ground vinyl to create a semi circular tunnel. Then bundles of straw are tied strategically atop the tunnel greenhouses to protect the little white teepees inside from excessive sunshine and possibly to keep some heat in. As the plant grows it tends to push off the styrofoam teepee and these are then removed. The plastic sides of the greenhouse are lifted partially when the sun is shining to prevent heat buildup. As the plants crawl attempting to escape the greenhouse plastic is removed. The straw is placed on the approximately two meter gap of bare ground between adjacent greenhouses.
I suspect there is also some control over the flowers blooming. The female flowers are usually preceded by male flowers. Each plant grows to a vine length of about two meters perpendicular to the rows or former greenhouse structures. I suspect each vine is limited to a defined number of kabocha. Then each growing kabocha is cradled with a white styrofoam bed to prevent any marking of the gourd by the soil. Due to the brand name each gourd can command a price of ¥1500 which at the current exchange rates would be about $20.00 Cdn. I have not seen the farmers carrying shotguns yet, but they sometimes look at me quite suspiciously ;)
They are expected to ripen in June just prior to the hot humid summer which would probably devalue the kabocha. I jokingly told people on our farm that next they will be playing Brahm's Lullaby for the gourds. They seriously thought it was a good idea. My jokes do not translate well?
Everything must be carefully timed in this country. Strawberries had to be ready just prior to Christmas as they are used in large quantities to make Christmas cakes. Carnations are given on Mother's Day, although for most people Mother's Day is not a big deal. We transplanted asters today which hopefully will be ready in early August. They are used to celebrate Obon or Festival of the Ancestors. In Tokyo this takes place in July in conjunction with the original Chinese calendar while the rest of Japan celebrates this in August. Rice is a crop which does not seem to be so tightly controlled. It is not likely to be damaged by frost in this country and when harvested can be easily stored.

1 comment:

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