Growing your own food means to commit to a relationship with nature.
This year was our first year farming in Shinshu.
The dirt in the fields is black because of volcanic ash accumulated due to past eruptions from the volcanic mountains that surround our village. The soil is a fine with very little stones, which seemed to be a suitable condition to grow potatoes and carrots.
Things I learned this year.
- Do not plant leaf vegetables in spring for most of the plant will get eaten by insects, leaving very little for us to eat. Leaf plants are better to be planted in summer and harvested in autumn and early winter.
- Plant the potatoes in early spring, and plant other companion plants and flowers to create diversity. When we planted about 30 potatoes in three rows. They grew great until they started to flower when we started to see an abundance of baby ladybugs. There are three types of ladybugs: Vegetarians, omnivores, and carnivores. The carnivores are great because they will eat the pest, but the vegetarian ladybugs could destroy your entire crop. We sent more than 500 ladybugs to heaven this year to save the potatoes. The abundance of ladybugs tells us an important lesson about the land and what we did. They are a response to an action that we implemented. The way I see it, the ladybugs where there to neutralize our field and to give balance. Next year, we will plant other crops with the potatoes to create a diverse eco-system that would invite many different type of inspects.
- Start several compost piles and start making our own soil. When we add nutrients to the ground, the plants grow stronger and healthier. To reduce the amount of tilling which would also reduce the amount of manual labor, we will start created compost next year.
- Understand the climate, and plant things accordingly. Since we live in northern shinshu, winter and autumn comes early and spring comes later than the lower regions of Japan. So I must learn to plant things earlier. Many of our crops did not fruit as much as we wanted because we were too late to plant.
Next year we will buy chickens and goats.
We will enjoy the chicken eggs for food, and use their poop to mix into the soil. The goats will give us milk, which we will drink and make cheese. They will also help keep the weeds low through grazing.
We believe that our garden will grow gracefully as we deepen our understanding of the natural principles that govern our eco system. Much to learn : )
Carrots and smiles
Potatoes, shiso, tsurumurasaki, oregano, and basil
Cabbage, zucchini, botagosho, carrots, and mizuna