To help transition Japan to a peace promoting post-carbon country while enjoying every step of the process.
僕のビジョンは、祖国日本で、平和文化を育みポストカーボン(Post-Carbon) 社会を促進してゆく事です。

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Week of 18~22

Here is number 2 posting on the week in review.

Friday: Prepare site for chicken tractor/pen, set up drip system on prunes, weed nursery, collect and organize firewood, weed and thin bamboo grove.

Saturday: Weed nursery, pot up 4 inch pots to 1 gallon, finish weeding and tying up raspberry bushes. There was also a solstice parade in town and a dance party at another farm.

Sunday: Work on new kitchen gray water system.

Monday: Continue on gray water system.

and now for everybody's favorite......


Bamboo grove care.

While watching out for new shoots, as they are fragile and pop up in unexpected areas, we weeded and thinned/pruned the bamboo grove (comprised of several varieties). We mulched the grove with the bamboo leaves we pruned off which I believe is high in nitrogen and silica. This area had also been a duck "tractor" site.

Potting up various plants that outgrew their 4 inch pots and needed to upgrade into a gallon pot. We planted a ton of Colutea, a nitrogen fixing flowering deciduous shrub, among other seedlings and clones.

The tool infirmary.....

....waiting for the doctor.

Michael, an old friend of Doug's, who just showed up one day while we were planting squash has a tool fixing business in New Mexico. He just rounded up all the broken or handleless tools and fixes them up while practicing Tuvan throat singing. He also has lots of stories about fixing tools on Native American reservations.

Here he is showing me how to shave wood off of this potential handle so we can fit a tool head on. What a valuable skill to know how to fix/make tools. He makes it sound really easy.

Mims working the kama with style.
We went around the property cutting down comfrey (mulch, dynamic accumulator, grass barrier, medicine, etc) that surrounds the fruit trees to create mulch donuts. Makes the place look so much tidier! The space between the tree and mulch donut is primarily to prevent mice and other creatures from chewing the bark and cambium off, which has killed a few trees on the property.

Trench diggin.
This was the first part of a new gray water system installation for our outdoor kitchen. The trench was to put ABS pipes to move the water to several different mulch pits inbetween fruit trees. I'll post a more detailed explanation of this gray water system.

Michael giving a special presentation on nitrogen fixers and soil ecology. Fascinating. I'll hopefully post up the diagrams and notes from this event. One thing is for sure, he loves nitrogen nodules and fungi.

Leopard Slug


Dedicated to my dear happy love monster.
The Leopard Slug (Limax maximus).


a picture of how the leopard slug mates. Super trippy

Poppies ぽぴ〜(芥子)

One of the most beautiful things I've ever seen in my life is the poppies that grow here. Breath takingly exquisite.


If any of these pictures grab your consciousness, please click on it to see it enlarged into the full size.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Books and Documentaries

Below is a website I made, and this page is a bunch of my recommended books and documentaries. They have transformed me to who I am today and I think are essential reads. But, I guess we all have our own list of books that we want to share with everyone. In any case, the top 4 were probably the most influential to me and I hope you will come across them someday.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Week of July 11-14

I think I'm going to start documenting our group activities for the week. Something that I got into through when I was trained as a co-organizer for the Education for Sustainable Living Program at UC Santa Cruz. We used documentation as a method of institutional memory, and effective coordination and organizational growth. Anyways, I think it is a valuable skill to document and a potentially useful tool for next year, and maybe other people are wondering how our weeks are going.


Fri: Hole digging for OH, consolidating wood piles, planting the rest of the winter squash in the FFF and labeling them, adding panels to the solar array, tool making (e.g. handles)

Sat: Weeding and maintenance in the FF nursery, planting oca (oxalis tuberosa: a root vegetable from the Andes) between grafted tree rows, topworking (grafting), tool making continued. Afternoon gardening time.

Sun: Cleaning! Finish inspecting and activating remaining drip systems for non-garden areas (e.g. I am responsible for the chestnut orchard planted during the design course last year).
Pictured: The hilling of potatoes.

Mon: Finish up projects and work on the gray water system from kitchen sink.
Then we cleaned up the gooseberry area near Doug's. We began to prematurely harvest the berries because they were infected with some kind of maggot.
In Hawaii thats called a "real bumma!"
The interns & guests decided to use these premature gooseberries and make gooseberry worm pie. mmmmm...


The lush potatoes ready to be hilled one last time.

Hilling work party with two guests and the intern crew.
A glorious moment where everybody is engaged with the task at hand.

Close up of hilled potatoes.

Sunday potluck.
A nice sunny day with a bunch of guest to share the feast with, yeah!


We had a variety of futomaki sushi (salmon, natto, avocado, egg, veggies, etc), hard goat cheese for salad topping, no knead wild yeast rye bread with plum and strawberry jam, yams roasted with sage, melons covered with cilantro, etc. Yeah!

Farm girls chillen between gray water system hole diggin.
I like the wheel barrel dirt chair, that's classy.

Gooseberry bushes getting cleaned up. Mainly weeding.

The horror, the horror.
Does anybody know what maggot this is?
By the way, the pie turned out great:)








Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ginko Nut

Daver brought some Ginko nuts from the Japanese market on the mainland, so I roasted them up. The last time I was in Japan during the winter, my mom roasted some ginko nuts and I was amazed at how chewy and tasty they were.

I don't think a single intern had ate a ginko nut roasted before, and probably for most it was they first ginko nut that set foot into their mouths. Our question was what is the nutritional content of ginko nut? I'll do some research and update this but if you know any good sources leave me a comment por favor.

Here is info from a company that is selling in bulk (minimum order 1 ton),
"Ginkgo seed contains many nutritional ingredients such as amylum, protein, fatty acid; it also contains mineral substances such as vitamin C, lactochrome, phosphor, iron, kalium, and magnesium."
I wonder if I can find something more specific than that.

Here is more info
According to this website, that references USDA SR-21 for their data, the caloric breakdown of a raw ginkgo nut is:
84% Carbs
8% Fats
8% Protein

"....amino acid ginkgolin has been found by researchers to be concentrated in both the nuts and leaves of the plant. ginkgolin has been clinically shown to increase the blood flow to the brain and improve the memory." -New England Ecological Garden

Monday, June 21, 2010

Life unto Death

On our way to the contra dance.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

update announcement

I added 3 pix to the Super Hero Party entry

Abundance and "Just Enough"

I started writing this after the last natural farming article I wrote. The previous "just enough" article was inspired by this entry.

Abundance and "Just Enough"

Here on the homestead (and in other permaculture circles I've been a part of), abundance seems to be a major goal that we are working toward. More food, more diversity, more biological material, etc. There seems to be nothing inherently wrong with that, in fact its awesome. But, I've been struggling with this approach since I also associate it to the mentality of modern industrial and consumer culture: More and more stuff. More stuff usually means more waste, and we do that as a regular practice in modern life. And sometimes it is not so much the apparent element (like water) we are wasting, but the energy that is associated to that resource. I like what I read in the Humanure Handbook, something like "there is no waste in nature, only human nature."

Abundance often means we don't need to be as conscious of how we use things. Particularly if we have no feedback loop to keep us in check. If we have a faucet with endless water, we can let it go into the drain without ever using most of it, or even being aware of it. Think about how most modern dwellers wash dishes, take showers, brush teeth, urinate in a toilet full of fresh water, etc. Including myself. In Costa Rica when we were carrying our water over a small hill, we would use it preciously. For example, we wash the corn nesquesado (a preparation to make tortillas) and collect that water to wash our dishes with it, then collect it and water specific plants. 3 uses out of a small amount of water. We were able to do this because we had a strong intention to put our values into practice and because we had to carry this water, and water is heavy stuff. We had an effective feedback loop in the form of physical energy exerted. I think the danger largely lies when the feedback loop is not working. I've been a lot more conscious around my use and misuse of food, water, and energy. But, there are definitely certain behaviors/habits that are hard to transform.

I believe scarcity and limits help us to be more conscious of our consumption and use. It helps us moderate our consumption habits and look deeper into the relationship of what we need and what we want in the short-term. Growing up in Japan, and spending time in rural Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Cuba in addition to what I learned about wartime and postwar Japan really helped me understand the effects (positive and challenging) of scarcity and limits. Reading Donella Meadows further reinforced my understanding of this phenomena from a systems-thinking point of view. If you've never read "Places to Intervene in a System" I highly recommend this short piece.
*Especially for people who want to make social change and make this world a better place.
Meadows is also the author of "Limits to Growth" and "Systems Thinking: A Primer" that I am reading.

I remember a documentary I watched in a psychology class where a lottery winner destroyed his life after he received the winnings. He was probably working or middle class, then became a millionaire, and after a year he was homeless. I think about the many aid projects in developing countries or devastated areas spending hug sums of money on inappropriate foods/infrastructure/technologies that don't benefit the intended population. Or when people indulge in foods that are good for them only in moderation or maybe not even good for them at all. My weakness is for freshly baked bread, especially croissants and sour dough bread. Oh and Mont Blanc (sweet chestnut cream) cake. If there is a bunch of these, I will always eat more. I have a very hard time moderating my consumption of these foods among many others. But, perhaps the most pungent experience of over-consumption facilitated by abundance is that of energy and products produced from fossil fuels. Transportation, heating, food production, plastic, war, etc.

I guess this thought has gone long enough for today, but I think I need to both appreciate the experience of abundance while looking critically at how we interact with it. Maybe balance, as natural farmers teach, is what we should be aiming for.

Living in a way to appreciate and be creative with limits and scarcity.

Thursday, June 17, 2010




Tuesday, June 15, 2010

われ、ただ足るを知る just enough

アズビー・ブラウンの「地球を救う江戸先進ののエコロジー」という本を読み始めました。そこで、彼が龍安寺の蹲いのお話をしてので、写真を載せたくなりました。 丁度自然農で肥料を使わない理由について考えていた所で、これを見て何かを理解した気がしました。蹲いを見るとお茶がしたくなりますね〜。あ〜抹茶が飲み たい。

I'm reading a book by Azby Brown called "just enough: lessons in living green from traditional japan" and he mentioned this in the forward. In the forward he writes, "....17th C. stone basin at Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto. 吾唯足知 is an important zen saying that can be translated as, I know what 'just enough' is."

*Picture is from wikipedia japan

Shizeno update 6/3 & Excess Fertility

Update from June 3rd.

After digging the paths (also functions as a ditch for water and weed barrier) and using the material to raise the beds, I tapped down the soil with a shovel and my hand. Etsuko (author of the book I am using to guide me CLICK) says to tap down with a shovel or a board with a handle to shape the bed. In all honesty, I'm not exactly sure why this is necessary and it seemed to go against my training in Biointensive gardening where preparing a fluffy bed was essential in order for the plant roots to penetrate the soil with ease and for increasing drainage. Perhaps it was unnecessary. It does help to create an even surface and the soil will probably dry slower which is important since less watering is another element of shizeno (natural farming) and stronger flavored veggies.

Finally, it came time to plant. I probably should have planted earlier in the season but it was quite cold in May and I was also busy preparing my Biointensive garden beds which will be relied on for our food during the year.

With my hori hori, I opened small pockets and wedged left over transplants in. The bed on the right has an assortment of onions. Tokyo long green onion, red bulbing onions, and maybe some other ones. The middle bed has bush beans, cabbage, chard, kale, spinach, etc. The bed on the left is a daikon raddish bed from seed. I also planted corn and amaranth from seed on the South end (toward the grass), buttercup squash transplants, sweet pepper, and an assortments of herbs here and there.

I love diverse non-production oriented beds! Woohoo.
I will be a happy starving gardener :)
My main purpose for having a variety is to see what works in this climate with my shizeno beds.

In addition to this experiment, I decided to plant some starts straight into the weeds outside of the prepared area. Maybe to appease the radical purist in me. I'm always pondering about what "natural" means and what kind of gardening inspires me the most.

Here maybe you can see the kale, bush bean, and shiso transplant.

I should have mulched it right away, maybe even before transplanting but too much going on. Recently, I mulched it with some of the tall grass I cut off this area, but some of the interns had used straw as mulch and their garden beds (mostly brassicas) got wiped out from slugs and snails. I also started late so much of the grass had seed heads, so I opted to use grass clippings after mowing the paths of the far far field (where we have the potato and squash plantings). The purist inside of me was not excited about it, but the majority of me decided this was the practical thing to do considering all the factors I was working with.

Eiyoukatou 栄養過当 (Excess Fertility)
No fertilizing is an essential element of natural farming, check out Fukuoka's book to learn more about why. Kawaguchi and Etsuko do mention that you might add rice bran or sake lees if your soil is particularly poor. Etsuko suggest doing this 2 months before Spring planting. Of course, this makes sense is you or maybe your neighbor produces these by-products. In the US you might use wheat bran if you live in an area of wheat production. One of the main ideas in shizeno is to not import material. Keeping it local.

One of the most striking things I heard from natural farmer Kawaguchi was about eiyoukato. He mentioned that a few times when we visited his rice paddies, garden, and his home. What surprised me in his garden was that he had corn growing in one bed and in the next bed he had beans growing. In organic farming circles growing corn and beans together is a common practice. The three sisters is often mentioned: corn, beans, and squash that North American indigenous peoples planted together (or 4 if you also throw in amaranth). The beans fix nitrogen which the corn feeds heavily on.

Anyways, I asked Kawaguchi why he didn't plant them together and he mentioned eiyoukato. He explained that the corn bed didn't need extra nitrogen from the beans. The corn was healthy just as it was and the soil was in balance. The main point is fertilizing, even organic methods, is unnecessary in most cases (unless your goal is abundance of production which is often the case). Also, when you fertilize, weeds also have access to that abundance of nutrients. It is an invitation for them to grow strong. Also, plants grow faster with access to more nutrients, sometimes too fast. Excessive growth can lead to big unhealthy plants, like people who overeat fats and sugars. Those plants will attract various pest and diseases.

Coming back to my shizeno garden beds, I did not add anything EXCEPT the grass clippings from the paths as mulch that I mentioned earlier. This will probably add some amount of nitrogen, but I also did remove the weeds that were growing on the beds initially. What I will do next time though, is use the weeds I actually cut from the beds and lay them on as mulch.

One final note, the area I'm working in looks like nice rich soil with good drainage. That makes things much easier, and I am not sure what I would do in less optimal conditions.

Now for a break!
Then I'm hoping to write a little about my struggles with Abundance and Balance/just enough.

Monday, June 14, 2010

SLugS ナメクジ

For some, these guys are enemies and sources of great grief and anxiety.

They are everywhere! This one was on our building project inside the aloha lodge. And last night I found a streak of dried slug slime on my pillow.
Made me smile.

This is a sister flower of the poppy picture that was on my recent entry. I could see the petals moving as the slug consumed the beautiful flower. As much as I wanted to enjoy the flower in its full glory, it was quite a treat to watch the slugs devour it.

This one was hanging off of the ceiling in the hoop house, about 3 feet! We have starts that slugs like on copper pipe stands (shocks the slugs) but with this type of James Bond manuaver they have out smarted us once again.
Hats off to you slugs.

I'm slowly starting to appreciate their presence and work with them. Sometimes our challenges come from a lack of understanding and inviting problems into our lives. When I was farming in the tropical dry forest of Costa Rica, I was one of the few people with a luscious garden during the dry season (locals farm during the raining season....makes sense). 3-4 months after the rain had stopped the roaming cows jumped over the barbwire fence and ate all the corn and rice I had planted. I was devastated. One, because it was the first time I planted rice and they were just starting to form. And two, because they stepped in the garden beds and compacted them a foot down which I had no way to fully remedy.

With some annoyance and anxiety I replanted the beds. A month later they returned. In the 6th month of no rain, they became daily visitors. Then I realized they are my zen teachers. Nothing is gaurenteed in gardening/farming. It is a long journey to a harvest and I just need to be in the present moment and work with what I have. I also realized that I was the one who invited the cows, as nowhere else could these starving cows find fresh green grass. I gave up growing grass and enjoyed the tomatos, eggplants, beans, etc that the cows and the horses didn't care for. I do hope they enjoyed what they ate....I did feel sorry whenever I saw their rib cages bulging through their skin.

Permaculture ethic, sharing the abundance.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Required Tools 必需道具

Something we use daily as human beings in probably any context we encounter are tools. From eating utensils to language, tools are invaluable in the way we live. The skillful use of tools allows us to do things we would normally not be able to do. They can make life so much easier. Hopefully I'll come back to a deeper discussion to tools and technology on a latter date.

I just wanted to post the required intern tools as they are super useful for gardening and working in the site we are at. I've come to appreciate quality hand tools more and more, and realizing how much time it takes to learn how to skillfully use them.

Hori hori: a soil knife thats great for digging, transplanting, and cutting weed roots. Its probably a great tool to take on a hike in a satoyama or forest to collect wild food, medicine, and other materials.

Kama: Japanese hand sickle. Its Super sharp and excellent for cutting weeds, especially around fruit trees and other areas that you want precision cutting. Natural farmer Kawaguchi talked about the kama as an essential tool in shizeno. I think its a symbolic tool in contrast to the machines and chemical sprays that characterize much of modern Japanese farming. Doug also mentioned that the thing that impressed him about Masanobu Fukuoka was his skillfulness with the kama.

Secateurs/snips: Great for pruning, grafting (in addition to a grafting knife), cutting wire and twine, etc. Having these around makes me want to prune all the time. A snip here and a snip there. Felcos of Switzerland are the recommended brand at UC Santa Cruz and here at the Bullocks.

Grafting knife (not pictured): a lot of us got Swiss Army style grafting knifes with two different styles of blades. I the defining characteristic of a grafting knife is that it has a single bevel (and super sharp).

The tool belt. Don't leave home without one as you never know what tool your regret not having!
This is my lean version. Some interns have a folding saw, hand saw, knife, and all kinds of other stuff.

In the apprenticeship program at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (UC Santa Cruz), the apprentices are required to have a spade and a fork that they order from Clarington Forge (England). For the Biointensive farming they teach there, these are amazing tools. I've learned to use them quite effectively engaging my knees and keeping my back straight. The apprentices sand the coating of the handle, then rub oil into it to increase longevity of the wood. They also file the spade tip so you can cut the soil and root mats, and skim the soil top with ease (like a big hori hori).

In Guatemala, I worked with a Mayan farmer who pretty much used the machete for everything. I never asked why, but his machete was filed on both sides. When we had to dig post holes 1.5 feet deep, he somehow dug it with his machete as the shovel lied idle on the ground. I really like machetes. When I was living in the tropical dry forest of Guanacaste in Costa Rica, we would use the machete to open coconuts, chop fire wood, prune, cut and clean bamboo, butcher, chase cows out of the garden, etc. mmmmm coconuts.

(This is a picture of coconut oil making in Guanacaste Costa Rica. I think I chopped through 10 mature coconuts, it was hard work! The oil we got from that days labor was later stolen in San Jose Costa Rica with our dirty laundry and other foodstuffs.)

Friday, June 11, 2010


This is my journey to the shizeno (natural farming) garden beds to plant some spinich starts after dinner. What first caught my eye as I walked by the green house....


And this is the scene that enchanted me as I approached the garden

a spectacular reflection of beauty on the pond.

The grand finale was a solar shower in the sunset.
happy people
beautiful world

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Winter Squash Planting


On thursday we all rallied to finish planting out winter squash transplants.
All sorts of varieties were planted, Kabocha (of course!), Buttercup, Tetsukabuto, Black Forest, Sweet Meat, Delicata, Australian Butter, etc. Can't wait to eat them!

The main challenges for winter squash growing is slug predation during the early stages, vigorous weds, and getting enough heat. The black plastic mulch is to suppress weeds and collect heat.

1. 穴の位置を確定しから深い穴を掘って、そこに肥料をまぜこみました。蟹の粉末(蟹肉を除いた部分)、海藻の粉末、コンポスト、熟成された馬糞の豪華な組み合わせ!苗を植えた後に鶏の糞を粒状にされたものを上から振りかけました。工夫をした点は、プラスチックシートを穴の中下向きに織り込みながら穴の周りを土で被せた事です。横から忍び寄って芽をだす雑草を除外しながら、ナメクジやカタツムリが隠れないようにします。

1. After measuring out where the holes should be, we dug deep holes and filled them with a combination steer manure, compost, chicken pellets, kelp meal,and crab meal. The value meal!
*Tucking in the plastic mulch (in this case a salvaged tarp) around the holes and covering beyond the hole with growing medium (soil/compost) is a tactic to prevent running grass from popping out from the openings, and keeping slugs and snails from living and hiding around the transplantlings.

2. 各穴にカボチャの苗を二つずつ植えました。右上の写真はプラスチックマルチなしで植えた部分です。溝は 貯水のためで苗を植えた丘は、水はけを良くするためです。

2. Then we planted 2 transplants per mound. This picture on the right is a section that has no plastic mulch. The berm is to concentrate water in that area while the mound will keep the transplants dry so they don't get funky fungi.

3. 次にホットキャップ(大きなペットボルみたいな入れ物から下を切り取ったもの。使用済みの業務用の油の入れ物など)を苗に被せて、ナメクジなどが入ってこないように地面に押込みます。

3. Next we covered the tiny transplants with hot caps (these are plastic bulk oil and other foodstuff containers that had the bottoms cut off). Burying the edges in the soil is another tactic to keep slugs and snails from hanging out in the containers and ravaging the tender sprouts of winter squash.

4. 最後に水をやって、水やり用のドリップテープをしきました。
4. They were watered in and drip tape was set up.

Bada bing, bada boom.


Doug reminded us to check up on the plantings daily to see how the plants are doing, as they are delicate in the early stages especially slug and snail predation.



Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Off days on the farm

Yesterday, it was declared that Tuesday is Pie Day!
Then, the people decided that Wednesday and Thursday should be Pie Days too. Below is pear and peach pie. The fruits were frozen from last years harvest and the crust was made with coconut oil. They were delicious and I was told none of the following pies had sugar added. Just natural fruit sweetness. mmmmm. natural fruit sweetness.
The 100% whole wheat no-knead bread on the right was baked in the dutch oven in harmony of the pies to make use of the oven heat.
Blessed are the pie makers.

At the same time, the usual suspects brew their next generation of the beer. This time is a dark chocolate brew.
....and today after dinner

More pie! This time I think it was quince pie with raisins. But wait.....

A freshly baked apple crispish thing appeared to follow the pie.
For you meat lovers, the left is a locally harvested (aka homesteaded) venison liver quince pie that the British intern made. Its the business!

And as we indulged in the crisp, another tasty surprise,
Dried peaches and cranberries.

Well, this is the hard life we live.
Should I eat two pieces of pie or three pieces?
Tahini or no tahini?

As I write this, there is a salmon dealing session happening.

And while I'm at it, I'll just add a picture from last dinner at Yuriko's event.

It was something like Korean BBQ venison, kabocha stew, avocado salad, light soup, a few other dishes and I made some of my favorite mitarashi dango (sort of like mochi.....NOT the ice cream!).