We have two spare beds but will use them for second and third plantings of spinach.
Mouse daikon (I'm sure this has a better English name but in Japanese it's nezumi daikon so there you have it, mouse daikon)
Vitamin daikon (I want a job renaming daikon. I'm sure I could do better than this...)
Hakusai/ Wong Bok/ Napa Cabbage
Crinkly hakusai (chigure hakusai)
Red, yellow and green Swiss Chard/ Silverbeat
Salad Chrysanthymum Greens (a less peppery variety nice raw)
Phew.... I think we should be right for greens, hey?
But there's one major omission this year: Nozawana.
Nozawana is the local pickling vegetable. In Fukushima it was hakusai. Here it's nozawana. Every year in late Autumn each household makes enough pickles to last the winter and through to the first crops of the next Spring. I make them, too. For many people it's pretty much the only greens they eat throughout the snowy months. I prefer my greens unsalted/ un soy sauced so spend early Autumn blanching and freezing as much broccoli and beans as I can. I also plant masses of spinach and hakusai and dig them out of the snow to eat. K is from Fukushima- a pickling stronghold in Japan though and loves his salty greens so I usually make 20-30 kilos a year.
Last year I grew enough nozawana to pickle, some to eat fresh (tastes a lot like silverbeat) and some for the chooks. Should have been set, right?
First, friend and neighbour A brought me over 20 kilos of nozawana she had spare and a new recipe for pickling. She had too much and knew K loved pickles so thought she'd make this new style of pickles with me. We drove down to the JA store to get the special soy sauce necessary and I just about choked- 1200 yen for soy sauce????? Ouch!
Then Mrs N across the road brought over 10 kilos of nozawana because she new K is from Fukushima and surely needs as many pickles as possible.... I stirfried some and (apologetically) fed the rest to the chooks... We already had 40 kilos of it pickling, afterall...
Then one of my students brought me over 10 kilos of pre-pickled nozawana. She had tried a new recipe and used far too much chilli pepper and it didn't suit her family's tastes but she remembered that I like spicy food and well... K is from Fukushima and they like pickles, right? We're now up to 50 kilos of pickles, I'm out of pickling stones, there's yellow pickling tubs everywhere and I was planning on eating fresh greens anyway remember?
Well, it was some winter. K had pickles of at least one variety- and usually two or three varieties- at every meal. My family came for Christmas and we tried to convert them to the salted way of life with moderate success... we sent pickles to Fukushima (not a coal to Newcastle problem because remember these are nozawana leaves packed in salt- theirs are hakusai- completely different...) and to K's relatives in Saitama, Nagoya and Osaka.
It was a warm winter. Not a good winter for pickle preservation. By March it was already too warm and the pickles were fermenting. K likes the tingly sensation of eating fermented pickles so gallantly kept on going.
By the end of March the pickles were disintegrating and even K had to admit they were past it. We still had about 20 kilos left. Too salty to give to the chooks, wash them and they turn to goop, bury them and we'd probably have a salt lick.... K ended up digging a very big, very deep hole and burying them then pouring bucket after bucket of water on top.
It was such a waste of greens and salt and sugar and time and ludicrously expensive soy sauce that I decided never again.
So this year I am living dangerously and haven't planted any nozawana.
I am the grateful recipient of a lot of produce from my neighbours (it's all you can eat apples at Casa Fukase from November to March...) but I never, ever want to take that for granted and so hate the expectation of receiving element of this plan.
But really, 50 kilos of pickles is just too much. And if by some miracle of nozawana blight/ everyone else underproducing as well/ Japan running out of salt we don't get given any nozawana this year? I reckon we probably still have enough salt in our systems from last year, anyway. And those nezumi daikon are a special variety designed for pickling. And I have planted about 200 spinach plants so far... I'm sure there's a recipe for pickled spinach out there somewhere. I'll ask K. He's from Fukushima after all...