First things first, after getting Michie off to work I packed up a bento box for lunch and headed out to the fields (we have 12 fields we are currently developing, scattered all over the island). I watered the various and sundry veggie seeds we are trying to raise at our largest field. It was then that I noticed the spinach sprouting up. I direct seeded it on May 12. (Sorry, my Japanese handwriting on the row marker is almost as atrocious as my English handwriting. I think we are all glad I could type this post instead of writing it out!!! : ) We had a day of soaking rain earlier this week followed by relative warmth and now our first greens are popping up! I seeded another section today too ahead of tonight's rain. We are doing staggered plantings so we can harvest everyday up until the hottest days of summer (spinach doesn't do so good in the heat), instead of all at once.
Also, in order to beat the rain (and the muddy unworkable mess it makes for the roto-tiller) I spent the better part of the day tilling and building beds at our tenbatayama field (that's the name of the area on the map, and it sounds better than "field 1" or "field A" don't ya think!?). We will be planting sweet potatoes here at the end of the month.
I've said it before and I will say it again: straight bed rows are incredibly boring, but highly efficient. I prefer natural curves and flowing layouts, and our personal garden incorporates all kinds of permaculture and natural farming techniques and design principles, but for the business side of things for Ajishima Kingdom, we have to be production minded as well. Straight beds are easy to weed with a hoe, and uniform beds make for simple calculations like amount of seed needed and projections of yield per bed/area. The leeks and onions in the picture we planted by a volunteer last year, and once we harvest them, I will expand our sweet potato beds into that area as well.
Our next door neighbor recently offered us use of his field that is covered with an anti-crow net. Crows are clever, determined and destructive. Many islanders cover their most vulnerable crops with nets like this. It would take a lot of time and resources, both of which we are currently lacking, for us to set up our own netted-in field, so we jumped at this opportunity. I weed whacked, tilled and built 15 short beds in the sunniest corner of the field this afternoon for a very special crop...
...I planted these cantaloupe seeds on April 19, one month ago. (I made the little paper pots out of toilet paper roll cores, and will post about that process on a rainy day in the future!) Anyway, we received these seeds, along with many other veggie, fruit and herb seeds from my Aunt Kendra last year, in memory of my mother's passing. At the time, we had no idea we would be farming this much land. We have put the seeds to good use, filling in the gaps of our main crop plan for this year with a variety of plants that are quite unique on the island. We are so grateful for the seeds, the land, the sprouts, the sudden netted-in field to protect the flourishing melon sprouts in need of protection, and most importantly for the people in our lives that support and encourage us, even from half way around the world. Thank you.
Last Monday we harvested hundreds of "nira" starts at an acquaintance's farm off-island. Nira is like a cross between garlic and chives, but with leaves shaped like blades of grass. It is super delicious and used in many dishes here in Japan. We had so many starts we needed to build some more beds on the fly after filling the entire first field we prepared earlier!!!
Nira is perennial, spreads from the roots and by seeds, can be divided and transplanted every couple years, out-competes most weeds, and grows better after it is cut/harvested. If you leave the roots in place and cut just above the soil it will produce all year long, well into the colder months, and it over-winters well without much care. So, the question is: why didn't we start this deliciously lucrative endeavor earlier!?!?
Thankfully, we had extra help the next day when we returned to the island to transplant the starts into our fields. Thank you Tsuchi and Manabu. Without you guys we might still be laboring away in the nira fields!!!
|みんなの 808 木金土 8:08-11:00||