Build a vegetable planter and grow your own vegetables in Japan


When I first came to Japan, I had left all my comfort back in the UK. I suddenly knew nothing. I had no friends, I didn’t know the area, I didn’t know the food or how to use kitchen appliances, I couldn’t watch TV and I didn’t have a smartphone. Don’t get me wrong, it was quite amazing. It was almost like starting over.

One morning I opened my sliding door and sat on the step with a cup of tea looking at a field filled with vegetables growing. The farmer looked at me and smiled and then handed me some carrots. Right there and then I smiled and thought to myself, I love Japan.

I felt an overwhelming urge to grow vegetables! Something I could do and feel secure in the knowledge that I am useful. I made my way to the ¥105 shop and found a planter, soil, support sticks, gravel yet I couldn’t find any vegetables, only seeds. I got the seeds and yep, FAIL. I had no idea what I was doing wrong but since then I learnt a lot.

Today I am going to tell you the easy way to grow your own vegetables including how to build your own planter box.

Step 1:

Go to a DIY store and collect your wood, soil, black sheet, screws, screwdriver, hammer, tacks and vegetables! For things like tomatoes, green pepper, eggplant, Early April is the best time. The plants are small and very cheap.

If you have a car, awesome! If not do it the ghetto way and use a trolley, walk back to the train station while everyone looks at you like you have three heads and then strap everything to your bike and wobble home.

Step 2:

Lay out your wood

Step 3:

Grab two long sides of your wood and screw them to the corner pieces, do this for both sides.

Step 4:

Do the same with the short sides (photo 7 shows you this)

Step 5:

Personally, I like to add some strips of wood underneath the planter box so water drainage is easy, and you can slide the box to a different place if too heavy to lift without killing the sheet and the soil spilling all over the floor

Now you have your box, it is time to line it with the black sheet. If you are laying your box on the ground that has soil or stones, you can skip this bit, it is your choice. If you are laying this planter box on concrete / solid floor, I advise you to use this sheet. It is not waterproof, so excess water will drain through it. I simply line it up and knock it into place using small tacks. Be careful that you have enough slack so that it isn’t strained. It will rip if too much weight is on it. Top tip is to buy it off the roll as it is much cheaper than buying a pack of it.

Step 6

Add soil! In Japan the soil is difficult. You can google about it, but simply normal soil will not do the job. To make it easy I just buy bags of it ready to go (most people do)


So, lay the soil so it around 18ish cm deep for things like eggplant, green pepper etc. make a small hole and place your plant in (loosen roots first) then gently push it in place covering it with soil and supporting it. Add some water to the roots and leave it in a place that gets at least 4-6 hours of sunlight a day. Mine are facing south west.

I hope you enjoyed this useful article and I wish you happy gardening

Article written by David
Photos by David


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