Tag Archives: Masanobu Fukuoka

My wife’s green thumb (more like nuclear)

If you have been following my garden escapades, you’ll know that my wife and I have his and hers gardens. While I have been somewhat successful in trying to retrace Masanobu Fukuoka’s method of “do nothing” farming, my wife went straight to the traditional method of spreading soil and planting seeds.

I have struggled mightily to grow cucumbers in my garden which is on the the sunnier, drier side of the yard. In Hawai’i we have “microclimates” which can vary in a short space like in our backyard. My wife has the more shaded, cooler part of the yard.

While I harvested this a while back, it was the only cucumber I have successfully grown as my plants have all dried out and developed gummy stem disease which renders the fruit dry and prickly.

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My wife’s Japanese cucumber plant on the other hand has taken over most of the large trellis we put around it and has begun producing gargantuan results. I harvested this today. It was so big and ungainly that it scared my poor mother in law Toshiko. She could not even bear to be in the same room with it which verifies my suspicion that she is actually part cat.

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This monster weighs about 2 pounds (a little less than 1 kg). It is spikey and you could probably use it as an effective battle club. My mother in law even questioned if it was indeed a cucumber. “I’ve never seen a Japanese cucumber like this, maybe this is an English cucumber or squash.”

After work today we all came home and tried a slice with great trepidation. It was probably the most delicious cucumber I’ve ever had. It was even a little sweet with a strong cucumber taste.

I snipped this off my trellis also. It is a tiny bitter melon from my Fukuoka garden. I sliced it thin and salted it, washed it off and added ginger, bonito flakes and shoyu (a traditional Japanese preparation). It was small but delicious. To get a sense of scale see that it occupies about a four inch circle on my table cloth compared to my wife’s battleship above.

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The good thing about gardening with your wife is that no matter what size, you always get to share the harvest 🙂

Ducks!

Hi all! I had taken about a month or so off writing when my dear friend Sonia encouraged me to start posting again in a kind email. The nice thing about not writing for a living is you can take a hiatus when your inspiration is lowered, or you simply have ran out of ideas to post about. In the past month we had unusually hot weather and low rainfall in Hawaii. I am finding a symbiotic relationship with my garden and my writing habits. In short, when my garden isn’t producing, I get writer’s block. Happily, a cold weather front came through the islands bringing lots of rain. So here are my fingers flailing on my keyboard again 🙂

As far as my yoga practice, I bit the bullet and signed up to take my Junior Intermediate I assessment this year. It is a bit scary to be going up for assessment this year. Compared to how I have been normally practicing for the past several years, this year would definitely land more on the mrdu end of the meter. I will let those who study the sutra-s figure out what that means.

That doesn’t mean that I haven’t practiced though. I still teach all my classes and take some time when I can to get through a sequence or so. And I just got finished with a workshop with Laurie Blakeney who is now the IYNAUS assessment chair. In addition, I still do my mantra practices in the morning and evening. I honestly don’t see how I can get through the day without them.

My mentoring teachers are gracious and wrote me recommendations which are needed for the applications. They have been understanding of my family and personal needs this past year which has drastically changed my ability to regularly practice evening classes at the studio with them. I will post updates about my progress towards this goal. Just don’t be too hard on me if things don’t go the way they should. The J-one syllabus is tough!

As far as my garden, it continues to enrich my life in ways I never realized. I remember reading one of Masanobu Fukuoka’s books and he said that he would regularly get visits on his farm/garden from ducks who would graciously poop on his plants providing wonderful fertilizer. I felt kind of sad when he said they built a big highway by his property and the ducks could no longer cross safely, so he was subjected to spread his own pelleted chicken manure in their abscence.

Yesterday I went outside in my garden and found these two hooligans (see picture above) waddling about in my garden. They are ducks from the nearby marsh. My wife ran and grabbed some bread and fed them heartily. Don’t worry Home Yoga Practice fans, I won’t
“duck” out on another month without posting 🙂

Letting your plants go seed

When I was a teenager, I can remember waiting in the doctors office and perusing a hunting magazine. I had no interesting in hunting, but it was the only thing to read in the days well before iPhones. Between the articles of using store bought fox urine versus to the real deal for God only knows what, I came across an article that has apparently stayed with me for years. It was a first hand account of a man who successfully tracked down a prized deer, but couldn’t bring himself to shoot it because he was in awe of the beauty and strength of this animal.

As my plants in my garden are maturing, I haven’t been able to pick some of them for very much the same reasons as the hunter above. Watching something grow from seed since nascency, then becoming ripe and the flowering, then seeding, then dying is a beautiful process to watch. It is hauntingly a fast forward preview of our own cycle of existence in this embodiment, and in mankind itself.

I knew I was too late picking my freckled lettuce when I snapped off a leaf and chewed it, only to have an extremely bitter taste in my mouth. I have developed great respect for lettuce plants a they are some of the most disease resistant, insect resistant, drought resistant, and delicious plants that can be grown. When they are mature, they go right into seed making mode and grow a crown on top reminiscent of something truly Royal.

It is odd growing plants in Hawai’i, a place where you can plant any time of year and produce. As this past week was the first day of Spring, many of my plants are behaving like its Fall and either harvesting or going to seed. Rather than greedily picking them all, I am letting some continue their short life cycle on this earth with hope that they will produce more offspring with their withering.

On a bright note, I did harvest my first pumpkin. It was small and beautiful and made my mother in law very happy. I plan to take it on “tour” to show all my students, coworkers, friends, and clients with whom I was showing weekly pictures of progress like some deranged parent. Who knows, I might just eat it one day 🙂

Flowering Fukuoka garden

I am about three months into my Fukuoka gardening project and am starting to see a lot of plants flowering. To bring new readers up to date, this is a method of gardening pioneered by Masanobu Fukuoka, whose philosophy is to allow nature to do the work with minimal interference from human interaction. This is easier said than done, as human nature likes to poke around as I often do to my poor plants in this garden. Keep in mind, I just planted this on my bare lawn without any soil, chemicals, or soil amendments. This is simply from laying down a bed of straw, casting seeds in the form of seed balls, broadcasting White Clover seeds, and just a small amount of pelleted chicken manure. Also keep in mind that I have had very minimal previous experience in gardening prior to this experiment.

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This is the very first cumcumber in the making from the garden. My wife and I hand pollenated it by removing flowers from a male, and inserting the stamen into the open female flower. The female flower has a “tiny” cucumber looking stalk. I believe this is successfully pollenated and growing at a rapid rate.

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This is a healthy looking snap pea plant (above). I added this wooden trellis as the plant started expanding beyond the garden stick.

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A kabocha pumpkin plant (above) produces huge yellow flowers which ants seem to love. Perhaps they will assist in pollination when a female flower comes about. I am finding the ratio of male flowers tends to be quite high compared to female flowers which come later.

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A bright green head of Romaine lettuce is extending its ribs up through the hay. I snapped a leaf off today and it had a rich “lettuce” taste that I haven’t been able to get from the store bought variety.

img_1767If you have been following this gardening project, you will have known that I have had a hard time growing beets. I finally have a batch that made it past the seedling stage under the protective leaf from a Chinese mustard green. To date, I have planted about 50 different kinds of seeds, but many have not made it.

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With a hand sickle, I cut tall grass in the garden and place them on top of other unruly plants. I have stopped using the term “weeds” because I realize that in this method, all plants have a purpose. The biomass from the non edible grass and horse herb provide mulch and suppress the plants in the garden that are bullying the young crops. When decomposed they in turn feed the garden with nutrients.

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The “skyline” of my garden is rapidly changing and getting taller.

 

 

My New Year’s Resolution? No goals

Early January is an interesting time of year. My brother posted on his Facebook page that the week after the New Year is like Black Friday for the gym. As he is a triathlete who trains through the holidays while everyone is Ho Ho Ho-ing, I can empathize with his annoyance of now having to share the stationary bike with someone who will use the gym every day for two weeks, then never again until next January. Resolutions don’t seem to last long.

After teaching yoga class one of my students was chatting with me and asked me what I did all day aside from teach yoga. I proceeded to tell her my “second job” where I go into psychiatric facilities, and substance abuse rehab centers and assess people. After the assessment, I work to get them the help they need in the community. Then after work I told her about my duties as a caregiver taking care of my mother-in-law who is in a wheelchair. She seemed floored.”That sounds exhausting,” she said. I told her I don’t think I’d have it any other way.

I had plenty of goals going into 2016. I even thought toward the end of 2016, I’d better start working on my 2017 goals, but got an unsettling feeling when I started to think about what I wanted this year. After reading Masanobu Fukuoka’s book One Straw Revolution, I reflected on what he considers the fallacy of thinking in terms of “progress.”

The more people do, the more society develops, the more problems arise. The increasing desolation of nature, the exhaustion of resources, the uneasiness and disintegration of the human spirit, all have been brought about by humanity’s trying to accomplish something. Originally there was no reason to progress, and nothing that had to be done. We have come to the point at which there is no other way than to bring about a “movement” not to bring anything about. -Fukuoka pg. 201

2016 turned out to be a personally difficult year where just managing was difficult enough. So this year I am chucking my goals. Perhaps it is because I feel I am at a place of Santosa (contentment) that I am on the right path. Perhaps it is because I am too lazy to stop what I am already doing. Or perhaps I have developed enough confidence in myself that I can “manifest” what I need if I need it. Author Carlos Castaneda is famous for saying “all paths lead to nowhere, so choose a path with heart.”

Right now I am on a path with heart. I enjoy my jobs. I enjoy caregiving. I enjoy teaching, doing, and studying yoga. I enjoy gardening. I enjoy writing about all of it. Although I could do well with fewer of the hardships I face, all of the above provide well for me financially, spiritually, socially, and healthfully. Who needs goals when you have all that?

 

 

 

 

The twists and turns of Fukuoka gardening

I have to admit that I have good garden days and bad garden days. Some days I feel that my garden is doing great, an other days when I feel like I’d be better off just buying produce at the farmer’s market and be done with it all. In yogic terms, it is much like citta vritti, or endless mind chatter. If you’ve been following my blog, I have had a lot of bad news lately and today I took a “mental health” day off from work and spent a good part of it tending to my garden.

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The “weeds” I talked about in the last post were starting to overpower, so I covered them with straw and coffee grounds (above) to suppress them. I’m not trying to eradicate them, just restore the natural balance to my garden. It seems to be effective.

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A patch of snap peas (above) are growing strongly in one area. I sowed these seeds directly under the straw as opposed to putting them in seed balls. They are doing remarkably well.

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This Japanese cucumber (above) is growing right out a seed ball along with what looks like romaine lettuce seedlings. Often times there are multiple types of seeds in a ball and they spread out like this. You can also see the rich mixture of clover seedlings, weeds, and grasses in the background.

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This mint is the only transplant in my garden. It was droopy for the first few days, but is now full with new leaves growing. You can see how it it towers over the tiny clover seedlings about a half a foot below. Nature has the most aesthetically pleasing patterns, doesn’t she?

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I think this is the last remaining beet seedling in my garden as the others have perished. I put a marker to I don’t trample on it as I suspect I have with countless other seedlings.

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My kabocha pumpkin patch is thriving in the corner of my garden. Once these start to bolt they will take up plenty of real estate.  You can see from this angle how many textures there are in this garden. It is like you would see these growing in the wild along with grasses, weeds, and other plants. The soil is moist and rich under the straw.

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Another patch of tiny Romaine lettuce seedlings growing right next to a patch of grass. In this style of gardening there is no weeding, just allowing nature to take turns growing what it wants to grow in the soil. I hope you found this post as therapeutic as I have.