Sunday, 14 February 2010

Preparing the Seed Bed

Seed bed in the rice paddy 田んぼの中の苗床

Today marks the New Year of the lunar calendar. Yesterday, the last day of the agricultural cycle, Tsukushi farm members gathered and visited the Ichinoya Yasaka Shrine near the farm to show appreciation for nature, the joy in farming, and the Kami’s custodianship of the land. The fine snow falling on us all afternoon grew heavier by the evening and covered our vegetable gardens and rice paddies with gentle white powder. When I woke up this morning, the entire land was shrouded in morning mist, which dispersed in the warm sunshine. Spring is nearing.


This time of the year is the best season for readying the land for the sowing season, so I had been busy tiding up the furrows, adding rice bran (husks) to the soil and preparing seed beds for both rice and vegetables. In order to experiment with different outcomes, I arranged two types of rice bed – one in a wetland (in the rice paddy) and the other in the dry land (vegetable garden).


Here are what I predict to be the merits and drawbacks:

Wetland seed bed 水の苗床
  • No perennial plants in the soil so the rice seedling roots can grow strongly and vigorously
  • Enough moisture in the soil
  • 宿根系の雑草の根が無いため、苗の根がすくすくと育つ
  • 土に水分がたっぷり含まれている

  • Sparrows will keep their beady eyes on the rice seeds.
  • スズメが狙いをつけて目を光らせている

Dry-land seed bed 陸の苗床
  • No sparrows
  • The dry and hard soil conditions will make seedlings more robust to sustain later growth
  • スズメが気づいていない
  • 乾いた固い土が、苗の根を丈夫にし、田に移植した後の成長がより促進される
  • Miscanthus (thatch) roots are thick with weeds.
  • 茅の根がびっしりと蔓延っている

The process of making seed beds:

1) Try to divert the goat’s attention 

2) Cut the weeds to the edge of the ground surface

3) Scrape off the surface of the soil to eliminate the seeds of the weeds in the soil. Remove any hardy weed roots if necessary with a sickle (I added some fallen leaves as organic compost, since I had moved soil when pulling out Miscanthus roots from the furrow)


4) Scatter rice bran on the surface

5) Cover the surface with rice straw and press several branches on top

The result is akin to a multi-thatched underground house. I hope I have created a comfortable home for hard-working microorganisms, in preparation for the sowing season in April.


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