Thursday, November 29, 2018

Some interesting points from Fukuoka San's books

Fukuoka san was a complete farmer and he lived like a farmer, his experiences and approach reflect this, so just wanted to bring these points. Lot of people think natural farming is about leave everything to nature, but there is much more than it.

About composting, weeding etc
One straw revolution - Chapter - Humanity Does Not Know Nature

Mr. Fukuoka makes compost of his wood ashes and other organic household wastes. He applies this to his small kitchen garden

One straw revolution - Chapter - Farming Among Weeds

In making the transition to this kind of farming, some weeding, composting or pruning may be necessary at first, but these measures should be gradually reduced each year. Ultimately, it is not the growing technique which is the most important factor, but rather the state of mind of the farmer.

Seeding more pellets
One straw revolution - Farming Among Weeds

Rice is sown 4½ to 9 pounds per quarter acre. Toward the end of April Mr. Fukuoka checks the germination of the fall-sown seed and broadcasts more pellets as needed.

Farming with straw
Mr. Fujii, a teacher at Yasuki Agricultural High School in Shimane Prefecture, wanted to try direct seeding and came to visit my farm. I suggested that he spread uncut straw over his field. He returned the next year and reported that the test had failed. After listening carefully to his account, I found that he had laid the straw down straight and neat like a Japanese backyard garden mulch. If you do it like that, the seeds will not germinate well at all. With the straw of rye and barley, too, if it is spread too neatly the rice sprouts will have a hard time getting through. It is best to toss the straw around every which way, just as though the stalks had fallen naturally.

Straw Helps to Cope with Weeds and Sparrows

I have made a lot of mistakes while experimenting over the years and have experienced failures of all kinds.I probably know more about what can go wrong growing agricultural crops than anyone else in Japan. When I succeeded for the first time in growing rice and winter grain with the non-cultivation method, I felt as joyful as Columbus must have felt when he discovered America

Orchard Earth
This tree was introduced to Japan from Australia some years ago and grows faster than any tree I have ever seen. It sends out a deep root in just a few months and in six or seven years it stands as tall as a telephone pole. In addition, this tree is a nitrogen fixer, so if 6 to 10 trees are planted to the quarter acre, soil improvement can be carried out in the deep soil strata and there is no need to break your back hauling logs down the mountain.

Growing Vegetables Like Wild Plants
The important thing is knowing the right time to plant. For the spring vegetables the right time is when the winter weeds are dying back and just before the summer weeds have sprouted . This method of growing vegetables has been developed by Mr. Fukuoka by trial and experiment in accordance with local conditions. Where he lives there are dependable spring rains, and a climate warm enough to grow vegetables in all seasons. Over the years he has come to know which vegetables can be grown among which weeds and the kind of care each requires.

In most parts of North America the specific method Mr. Fukuoka uses for growing vegetables would be impractical. It is up to each farmer who would grow vegetables in the semi-wild manner to develop a technique appropriate to the land and the natural vegetation.] For the fall sowing, seeds should be tossed out when the summer grasses are fading away and the winter weeds have not yet appeared.

It is best to wait for a rain which is likely to last for several days. Cut a swath in the weed cover and put out the vegetable seeds. There is no need to cover them with soil; just lay the weeds you have cut back over the seeds to act as a mulch and to hide them from the birds
and chickens until they can germinate. Usually the weeds must be cut back two or three times in order to give the vegetable seedlings a head start, but sometimes just once is enough.

Vegetables grown in this way are stronger than most people think. If they sprout up before the weeds, they will not be overgrown later on. There are some vegetables, such as spinach and carrots, which do not germinate easily. Soaking the seeds in water for a day or two, then wrapping them in a little clay pellet, should solve the problem.

Tomatoes and eggplants are not strong enough to compete with the weeds when they are young, and so should be grown in a starter bed and later transplanted

More topics to be covered

Direct-Seeding, No-Tillage Barley/Rice Succession with Green Manure Cover - Natural Farming

Shallow Tillage direct seeding -

Bund preparation....

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Seedball - Soil selection

When the ground is wet, putting the seed inside, makes the seed germinate well. Realized this, when browntop millet was put and tilled using a fork,same thing was done with cowpea and that also came up well.

But sesame seedball was a failure, and was thinking if seeds experience the same atmosphere as that of underneath the soil, then they should germinate. Seedballs sown at surface, dries up faster. One is to use mulching, but heavy mulching will be a problem for small seeds since they can not come up pushing. So it is important that seedballs when wet, retain moisture well so that they can germinate well.

While searching for the soil used for seedball, came to know that clay soil retains water maximum. Some information from the internet. -

The ability for a soil to retain water is partly determined by the size of the soil's particles. The smaller a soil's particles are, the greater the soil's surface area is, and so the more water the soil retains. Clay soil has small, fine particles, which is why it retains the most amount of water. Sand, with its larger particles and low nutritional content, retains the least amount of water, although it is easily replenished with water. Silt and loam, with medium-size particles, retain a moderate amount of water.

The amount of organic matter in soil also affects how much water the soil is able to retain. This is because organic matter has a natural attraction to water. So the more organic matter a soil contains, the greater the affinity it has with water. Clay soil is very rich in organic matter while sandy soil has very little.

Another idea is to use charcoal? - This site says, A Seedball is simply that - a seed inside of a ball of charcoal dust mixed with some nutritious binders. Once soaked, the seedball will help retain and prolong a moist environment around the seed to encourage germination.

Tapioca planting

Two days back, there was good rain at farm. When there is good rain, all I want to do is plant some thing, lot of crops grow with less water, but to germinate they would need enough moisture.

So this time, I wanted to plant some tapioca cuttings. Wild pigs and rats eat most of them, so keep moving them to places where they don't attack. Wild pigs does not come to places where there are people, so move such crops towards the boundaries where neighbors are there. Rats attack in places where they have enough hiding places, so this time cleared the grass and didn't bother to mulch, kept the mulch around some banana saplings.

In one place piles the soil and put the sticks, but this was too much work, so in one place just loosened the soil using crowbar and planted the sticks. In both places sown some alfalfa seeds.




So far in this place, wild pigs hasn't touched it and they are growing well

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Seed ball failures

I made seasame seed balls using white ant hill soil and brodcasted them after cutting and keeping the grass aside and then flooded the field which takes around 2 hours of time. I had used around 0.5Kgs of seeds for the area of around 0.15 acres. But I could see only a few seeds germinated. Wanted to find the reason and could see that since seed balls were having very thin coating of soil, after flooding, most of the coating would have gone and seeds would have been eaten by ants.I found out this by putting seedballs in a glass of water for 1.5 hours and seeds just came out. Some learnings..

1. So it looks like, if flooding is used with seed balls, then it is best to flood first then sow the seed balls towards the end, so they don't remain in water for long.

2. Also for various reasons, the germination will be bad, so use more seeds, may be for this area, I can use around 1.5Kgs of seeds.

3. Another important improvement can be using some other clay which sticks to seeds better, so that seeds are not exposed that easily on watering.


For paddy, this time made big seed balls with compost and cowdung so that they get a good boost on germination. This looks to be fine, can see that lot of seeds germinated from seedballs. Basically with rain, seed does not get exposed easily and not eaten by insects or birds. It looks like for seedballs to be successful, it has be reasonably bigger size.