Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Almost the last part of the overview

Expand Messages
  • Larry Haftl
    What s that saying... If only I knew then what I know now... When you read this part, if you think back to the descriptions of my futile attempt to use
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 6, 2002
      What's that saying... "If only I knew then what I know now..." When
      you read this part, if you think back to the descriptions of my futile
      attempt to use Fukuoka's method you will undestand why I say that.

      This is the next to the last section of the Overview (unless someone
      comes up with a good idea for another part). The last will probably
      be a brief page about seedballs with a link to seedballs.com and
      the suggestion to go there before messing with this technique.

      One last request. If you reply to any of these messages PLEASE don't
      include the entire message in your reply. These are REALLY big email
      files. Normally I would never send an email this big but under the
      circumstances it seems necessary in order to get some "peer review"
      and editing review before going public.


      Growing Vegetables

      In reviewing the archives of the Fukuoka_Farming mailing list, it
      became obvious that trying to grow vegetables using Fukuoka's method
      is the most frequently discussed topic. It also became obvious that
      most of us, including myself, were woefully ignorant of all that
      Fukuoka had to say on the subject. This is due primarily to the unavailability
      of his "how-to" book, "The Natural Way of Farming: The Theory and
      Practice of Green Philosophy". The book has been out of print for
      years, can only be found occasionally in public libraries, and on
      those rare moments when someone offers to sell a used copy it usually
      commands an exorbitantly high price.

      That seems to be slowly changing now as English translation reprints
      become available at reasonable prices from a publisher in India (see
      the links section on this website for sources that offer them for
      sale). But in the meantime many long-time list participants are actively
      trying to apply his method to their vegetable gardens using only
      the bits and pieces of information available while new list participants
      frequently ask "how do I get started". To help fill that that information
      void, the following excepts from "The Natural Way of Farming" are
      offered. They are, in no way, an exhaustive treatment of the subject.
      For that you really need to "read the book".

      Fukuoka on Vegetable Gardening

      "By sowing a mixture of many field crops, allowing them to grow naturally,
      and observing which thrive and which do not, one finds that, when
      grown in the hands of nature, crops superior to what would normally
      be imagined can be obtained.

      "For instance, when the seeds of different grains and vegetables
      are mixed together and scattered over growing weeds and clover, some
      vanish and some survive. A few even flourish. These crops flower
      and set seed; the seed drops to the ground and is buried in the soil
      where the seed casing decomposes and the seed germinates. The seedling
      grows, competing with or being assisted by other plants. This process
      of growth is an amazing natural drama that appears at first disordered,
      but is eminently rational and orderly."

      "Although this method of mixed, semi-wild cultivation may appear
      reckless at first, it more than suffices for the small family garden
      or for vegetable gardening on barren land by those who seek to live

      "What I mean by the 'semi-wild' cultivation of vegetables is a method
      of simply scattering vegetable seed in a field, orchard, on earthen
      levees, or on any open, unused land. For most vegetables, mixed sowing
      with ladino clover gradually gives a vegetable garden with a cover
      of clover. The idea is to pick a good time during the sowing season
      and either scatter or drill a seed mixture of clover and many vegetables
      among the weeds. This will yield surprisingly large vegetables."

      "Semi-wild vegetables have a pungent aroma and good body. Because
      they have been produced in a healthy soil containing all the necessary
      micronutrients, they are without question the most healthy and nutritious
      food man can eat."

      "Vegetables grown for home consumption are most likely to be raised
      for a five- or six-member family on a small plot of perhaps 100 square
      yards next to the house, or in a larger field. When grown in a small
      garden plot, all that is involved is growing the right crop at the
      right time in rich soil built up by the addition of manure and other
      organic matter."

      "However, for permanent cultivation on large acreages, this type
      of natural cultivation must be carried a step further. Systematic
      rotation schemes must be set up and cultivation planned and carried
      out in accordance with these."

      Fukuoka discusses rotation schemes, with diagrams, in great detail.
      Too great to reproduce here, and providing excepts from it would
      probably be more confusing and misleading than helpful.

      The Four Principles Applied to Vegetable Gardening

      "No tilling: This consists typically of ridging the field at intervals
      of 3 to 6 feet or digging drainage channels every 13 to 16 feet the
      first year, then either not plowing the next year or, at most, shallow
      plowing followed by seeding and rotary tillage."

      "No fertilizer: Leguminous green manure is grown as a basic crop
      each year and a mixture of coated crop seeds sown. If direct sowing
      is not possible, seedlings are transplanted. In addition, the land
      is enriched without plowing or tilling by planting root crops throughout.

      "No weeding: The second crop is either seeded over the maturing first
      crop or transplanted prior to harvest so as to minimize the period
      during which the field is left fallow. The straw and leaves from
      the crops just harvested are used as a mulch to retard weed emergence
      while the second crop in the rotation is still very young."

      "No pesticides: Of course, one can also make use of plants that prevent
      or inhibit the emergence of diseases and insect pests, but true non-
      control can be achieved when all types of insects and microorganisms
      are present."

      On Sowing

      "The best time to sow vegetables in the autumn is when weeds such
      as crabgrass, green foxtail, wheatgrass, and cogon have matured and
      started to fade, but before the winter weeds have begun to germinate.
      Spring-sown vegetables should be seeded in late March and April
      after the winter weeds have passed their prime but before the germination
      of summer weeds."

      "Sowing a good quantity of fall vegetables such as daikon, turnip,
      and other crucifers will hold back the emergence of winter and spring
      weeds. When left in the orchard until the following spring, however,
      these flower and age, becoming something of a nuisance in gardening
      work. If a few of these vegetables are left to grow here and there,
      they will flower and drop seed. Come June or July, the seeds will
      germinate, giving many first-generation hybrids close by the original
      plants. These hybrids are semi-wild vegetables that, in addition
      to having a taste and appearance quite different from that of the
      original vegetable, generally grow to absurdly large proportions:
      great big daikon, turnips too large for children to pull up, giant
      Chinese cabbages, crosses between black mustard and Indian mustard,
      … a garden of surprises. As food, they are likely to overwhelm and
      many people may be hesitant about sampling, but depending on how
      they are prepared, these vegetables can make for very flavorful and
      interesting eating."

      "Leguminous vegetables should be included in the seeds sown among
      the weeds in spring to early summer. Of these, vegetables such as
      asparagus bean, cowpea, and mung bean are especially good choices
      because they are inexpensive and high-yielding. Birds will feed on
      the seeds for garden peas, soybeans, adzuki beans, and kidney beans,
      so these must be encouraged to germinate very quickly. The best
      way to get around this is to sow the seed in clay pellets." [Editor's
      emphasis. The creation and use of the clay pellets, usually called
      "seedballs", will be discussed in another document.]

      About Specific Vegetables

      "Once planted, hardy vegetables such as garlic, scallion, leek, honewort,
      dropwort, and shepherd's-purse take hold and continue producing
      year after year."

      "Weak vegetables such as tomatoes and eggplants tend to become overwhelmed
      at first by weeds. The safest way to grow these is to raise young
      plants from seed and transplant them into a cover of clover and weeds.
      Rather than training tomatoes and eggplants into single-stem plants,
      after transplantation they should be left alone and allowed to grow
      as bushes. If, instead of supporting the plant upright with a pole,
      the stem is allowed to creep along the ground, this will drop roots
      along its entire length from which many new stems will emerge and
      bear fruit."

      "As for potatoes, once these are planted in the orchard, they will
      grow each year from the same spot, crawling vigorously along the
      ground to lengths of five feet or more and never giving in to weeds.
      If just small potatoes are dug up for food and some tubers always
      left behind, there will never be any want of seed potatoes."

      "Cucumber should be of varieties that trail well along the ground.
      The same is true for melons, squash, and watermelons. These latter
      have to be protected from weeds at the seedling stage, but once they
      get a little larger, they are strong crops. If there is nothing around
      for them to climb, scattering bamboo stalks with the tops remaining
      or even firewood will give the vines something to grasp onto and
      climb; this benefits both plant growth and fruit production."

      "Yam and sweet potato grow well at the foot of the orchard shelterbelt.
      These are especially enjoyable because the vines climb the trees
      and produce fairly large tubers."

      "With vegetables such as spinach, carrot, and burdock, seed germination
      is often a problem. A simple and effective solution is to coat the
      seeds with a mixture of clay and wood ashes or to sow them enclosed
      in clay pellets." [Editor's emphasis]

      "Things to Watch Out for: One must be prepared for the possibility
      of failure if the goal is large yields per unit area. Growing one
      type of vegetable in a field is unnatural and invites disease and
      pest attack. When vegetables are companion-planted and made to grow
      together with weeds, damage becomes minimal and there is no need
      to spray pesticides."

      "Even where growth is poor, this can generally be improved by seeding
      clover together with the vegetables, and applying chicken droppings,
      manure, and well-rotted human waste."

      On Diseases, Pests, and Pesticides:

      "… I am convinced that by reviving the pest control measures of the
      not-so-distant past and practicing semi-wild cultivation, people
      can easily grow more than enough vegetables for their own consumption.

      "Because hardy varieties are used, the right crop is grown at the
      right time in healthy soil, and plants of the same type are not grown
      together. Companion-planting vegetables of many different types in
      place of weeds in an orchard or on idle land is an eminently reasonable
      method of cultivation.

      "As an additional precaution, I would also recommend that pyrethrum
      and derris root be planted at the edge of the garden. Pyrethrum flowers
      and derris root must be dried and stored as powders. Pyrethrum is
      effective against aphids and caterpillars, while derris root works
      well against cabbage sawflies and leaf beetles. However, these may
      be used against all insect pests, including melon flies, by dissolving
      the agent in water and sprinkling the solution onto the vegetable
      plants with a watering can. Both agents are harmless to man and garden

      "…although from ten to twenty types of pests and diseases generally
      attack any one kind of vegetable, the only ones that are really major
      pests are cutworms, borers, leaf beetles, certain types of ladybugs,
      seed-corm maggots, and aphids."

      "Farmers a while back never used pesticides on vegetables in their
      kitchen gardens. All they did was to catch insects in the morning
      and evening on some gummy earth at the end of a piece of split bamboo.
      This worked well for caterpillars feeding on cabbage and other leaf
      vegetables, melon flies on watermelon and cucumbers, and ladybugs
      on the eggplant and potatoes. Disease and pest damage to vegetables
      can usually be prevented by being familiar with the nature and features
      of such damage rather than attempts at control, and most problems
      can be taken care of by practicing a method of natural farming that
      gives some thought as to what a healthy vegetable is."

      "Try raising vegetables as the undergrowth in an orchard and let
      native fowl loose in the orchard. The birds will feed on the insects
      and their droppings will nourish the fruit trees. This is one perfect
      example of natural farming at work."

      Fukuoka writes that the following vegetables have a strong resistance
      to disease and pest damage:

      Chinese and Japanese yam, taro, spinach, chard, Chinese cabbage,
      carrot, honewort, celery, parsley, burdock, butterbur, lettuce, garland
      chrysanthemum, perilla, Japanese mint, udo, ginseng, Japanese angelica
      tree, ginger, Japanese ginger, sweet potato, Chinese leek, garlic,
      scallion, Nanking shallot, Welsh onion, onion, dogtooth violet,
      asparagus, lily, and tulip.

      The following have only moderate resistance:

      Garden pea, broad bean, adzuki bean, soybean, peanut, kidney bean,
      asparagus bean, Egyptian kidney bean, sword bean, Chinese cabbage,
      cabbage, daikon, turnip, Indian mustard, rapeseed, leaf mustard,
      potherb mustard, sea-kale, and black mustard.

      The following have low resistance:

      Watermelon, cucumber, Oriental melon, pickling melon, squash, white
      gourd, chayote, bottle gourd, tomato, eggplant, potato, red pepper,
      and tobacco.


      Larry Haftl
    • Robin, Maya, or Napi
      The lists of plants grouped according to their resistance to disease and pest damage, at the end of the segment, is worthy of a subheading & click box
      Message 2 of 2 , Oct 6, 2002
        The lists of plants grouped according to their resistance to
        disease and pest damage, at the end of the segment, is worthy of a
        subheading & click box elsewhere in the site.
        This specific reference to crabgrass has given our project strong
        backing. It is the first time that it has been specified in my,
        admittedly limited, Fukuoka reading. We had been challenged here, "So
        he didn't weed the rice fields. What is the rice field's equivalent
        to crabgrass?" It may have been...crabgrass. The greatest danger to
        our existence, as a Fukuokaesque park for another year, is the belief
        that we should not be indulged to continue because all is powerless
        before the crabgrass that has covered our chip berms at the boundary
        of the park. The other weeds listed may be as strong in their
        environments as c.g. is here, but it is the crabgrass that the park
        officials use against this project. A copy of this passage will
        definitely go into our district supervisor's folder.
        Someone once posted on this group a thought about priorities of
        various gardeners, whether they included creating a "tidy" look. City
        officials may fear complaints of neighbors about an unkempt city
        flower bed along the alley. They may fear wild gardens make wild
        An information sheet listing this developing web site as a
        reference, & probably a copy of the Emilia or Bullfrog video, might be
        the way that the city can pass our park as a legitimate municipal
        project, or at least give the Parks Department staff, who might be
        charged with stopping us, an excuse to look the other way while we all
        learn from observation. (A lot of observation in teaching is
        accomplished by "looking the other way".)
        Crabgrass took over this message, which is our end-of-summer
        report in brief, but not in full. Crabgrass may have been repeated
        more often just now than any other single word in any single post.
        Sorry. The spring garden? Vedremo. (Is that how is spelled "We shall
        see," in Italia?)

        Larry Haftl wrote:

        > On Sowing
        > "The best time to sow vegetables in the autumn is when weeds such
        > as crabgrass, green foxtail, wheatgrass, and cogon have matured and
        > started to fade, but before the winter weeds have begun to
        > germinate.
        > Spring-sown vegetables should be seeded in late March and April
        > after the winter weeds have passed their prime but before the
        > germination
        > of summer weeds."
        > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
        > fukuoka_farming-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
        > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.