Sunday, June 24, 2018

Nitrogen Fixing and Dynamic Accumulators

Nitrogen Fixing and Dynamic Accumulators

Nitrogen (窒素) is one of the main plant nutrients associated with plant growth. However, plants cannot absorb nitrogen as gas (N2) from the air because they require “fixed” forms of nitrogen known as nitrates (NO­3-). Some plants, known as ‘nitrogen fixers’ interact with certain types of microbes to transform nitrogen gas into nitrates.

The microbes live on the roots of nitrogen-fixing plants and turn atmospheric nitrogen (‘breathed’ in by the plant) into nitrates that the plant can use as food. In exchange, the nitrogen-fixing plant provides the microbes with carbohydrates (炭水化物). This relationship enables the plant to produce nitrogen-rich leaves and seeds. As the leaves and fruits fall to the ground or as root die-back, the nitrogen becomes available to other plants in the surrounding area, thus benefiting the whole system.

Other nutrients, like potassium and phosphorus, will also be depleted (枯渇し) as we harvest food from the plants, so these need to be replaced in other ways. In a forest garden plants called, dynamic accumulators (like comfrey (コンフリー) for example) are often used to fill this role.

Dynamic accumulators are plants that have deep roots. They can absorb nutrients from parts of the soil that other plants cannot reach. The nutrients accumulate in their roots and leaves. As leaves and roots die back, the nutrients are added to the topsoil and become available to surrounding plants.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Important Minerals

Plants need minerals to grow big and produce fruit (実がなる). The three most important minerals are nitrogen (窒素), phosphorus (リン), and potassium (カリ). Each of these minerals does a different job that helps make plants healthy.
            Nitrogen is the most important of these three minerals. Plants absorb (吸い取る) more nitrogen than any other mineral. It helps plants develop protein, which is necessary to develop healthy cells (細胞) as they grow. Plants also need nitrogen for photosynthesis (光合成) – the process of turning sunlight into energy to grow larger and produce fruit.
            Phosphorus is also important for photosynthesis because it helps plants store energy. It also helps plants grow and develop.
            The last mineral is potassium. Potassium helps plants grow strong roots (根っ子), and makes them more resistant to diseases (病気に強い) and cold temperatures. In addition, it helps plants produce fruit.
            How do plants get these minerals? They absorb them from the soil () using their roots. So, having healthy soil is one of the most important things about having a healthy garden. The easiest way to make sure that your soil has enough nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium is to use industrial fertilizers (産業肥料). However, in our garden we try not to use industrial fertilizers. Instead, we try to plant plants that will provide these minerals to our plants naturally. These are called dynamic accumulators. In the next article, we will introduce some of our favorite dynamic accumulators.

CLICK HERE to download the worksheet.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Companion Planting

Most plants have other plants they like growing next to as well as plants they don’t like growing next to. Putting different plants together that grow well together, is known as companion planting. Companion planting helps plants with many different things. Such as pest control, pollination (授粉), providing habitat for beneficial creatures (有益な生き物) and making good use of space. One example of companion planting is tomato and basil. As the tomato grows, there is space under the tomato plants for the basil to grow: a good use of space. Also, the basil plant helps protect the tomatoes from aphid (アブラムシ) attacks: good pest control. This is an example of how two plants can help each other.

Print out the Companion Plant Table (Companion Planting Table.pdf). Then, take a walk through our Community Garden and find two to three trees or vegetables that we are growing. After that, go online and find some companion plants for the things you listed.

You can find a list of plants and their companions online at Plant Buddies (

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Introduction to Forest Gardens

When we started the KIT Community Garden, it was only a vegetable garden. But from this spring we are going to start transforming our vegetable garden into a forest garden. A forest garden is a garden that contains mostly perennial plants (多年草) that produce a variety of fruit, nuts, herbs, and other useful crops. The design of a forest garden is important. Usually, forest gardens have seven layers.
The first layer is the tall-tree layer. This layer has the tallest trees in the forest garden. In our garden, the tall-tree layer has loquat (びわ), apple, and pear trees.
Next is the low-tree layer. This layer has trees that are a little shorter than the tall-tree layer. In our garden, the low-tree layer is made up of gumi, juneberry, and mulberry trees.
The next layer is the shrub (低木) layer. Shrubs are plants that don’t grow very tall. In our shrub layer we planted blueberry, bill berry, raspberry, and blackberry plants.
After the shrub layer comes the herb layer. You can plant many useful plants in this layer that can be used for cooking, medicine, and attracting (吸い寄せる) good insects like bees and butterflies. In our herb layer we have mint, thyme, oregano, lemon balm, lavender, echinacea, and bergamot.
The next layer is the ground-cover layer. Ground cover plants do several important jobs. First, they can provide food for us. Second, they can prevent weeds from growing. Finally, they are a safe place for insects and other animals to live. We haven’t planted many ground cover plants in our garden yet, but we do have lots of wild strawberry and white clover.
Next is the vine (つる) layer. Vines are climbing plants like kiwi fruit and grape. We haven’t planted anything in the vine layer of our forest garden yet, but we will in the future.
The final layer in a forest garden is the root (根菜) layer. Root plants are plants that grow underground (地中). Some examples include potatoes, garlic, onions, and ginger. We haven’t planted anything in out root layer yet either, but we will soon.
Of course, we will still grow lots of vegetables, but we’re excited about the future of our forest garden.

CLICK HERE to download the worksheet for this article.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

English Cooking Class and Garden Reflecion

I enjoyed the cooking class because I ate delicious dish.

I thought the most delicious dish was Baked Vegetables and Cheese.

I enjoyed the KIT Community Garden project because I can take delicious vegetables.

My favorite thing about this project was cooking class.

I learned that Growing vegetables is very fun.

In the future, I want to do cooking class more.

Recently,we harvested corns, eggplants,green pappers.

I used green papper to make pizza toast.
Chili peppers are growing.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

English Cooking and Garden Reflection

I enjoyed the cooking class becouse I was able to have interchange with variouspeople.
I thouht the most delicious dish was salada. I enjoyed KIT Community Garden project becouse I was able to grow various vegetables. My favorite thing about this project was podcast. I leaned difficulty to tell a person in English. I want to grow winter vegetables. Recently , we harvested a corn. I used green peper to make fried udon.I could challenge various dishes with the vegetable which I harvested and was interesting.

English Cooking Class and Garden Reflection

I enjoyed the cooking class because I communicated with a lot of people in English.
I thought the most delicious dish was meat pie.
I enjoyed the KIT Community Garden project because I could learn English and how to grow vegetables.
My favorite thing about this project was cooking class.
I learned about the fun of communicating in English and the joy of harvesting vegetables.
In the future, l want to grow something new vegetables.
Recently, we harvested mini tomatoes, corn and carrots.
I used eggplant to make pasta.
Spicy peppers began to turn red.