One Straw Revolution

I have just finished reading “One Straw Revolution” by Mansanobu Fukuoka.  I have found it fascinating and very liberating when it comes to gardening.

One Straw Revolution

Mansanobu Fukuoka (1913 – 2008) was a scientist and later farmer. After a near death experience when he was very ill at just 25, he quit his job as a scientist and wandered Japan for many years.  Later he was involved in research and in finding ways to improve Japan’s production of food during the war.  Many years later, after marrying, he settled down on just a few acres and started to learn what Nature could teach him.  This was the beginning of a new way of farming and a man, who despite some fairly severe opposition, did not waver from what he believed in.  Further more with his “radical” way of farming he was producing rice (that was not grown in paddy’s constantly filled with water) and citrus crops that were equal to or above average compared to crops grown with the “western” method of farming ie chemicals etc and in paddy’s full of water.

Masanobu Fukuoka

Fukuoka practiced four principles of farming.

1 .The earth will cultivate itself.  Earthworms, micro organisms and roots can do a far more effective job of cultivating the soil than man can.  Plowing is therefore not needed.

2.  In nature the natural growth and decay of living plants will fertilize the earth much more naturally and efficiently than man can. In short he used no chemical fertilizers or compost.  Instead straw and chicken manure were spread over the fields and plants such as clover were used as ground cover.

3.  No chemical pesticides and no plowing. Mansanobu found that with plowing long buried weed seeds were given the chance to germinate and therefore take over a field. With no plowing those seeds weren’t given the chance to grow and he found that the weed population diminished. By not using chemical pesticides Fukuoka  allowed pests to eat the weaker plants (something they tend to do naturally) which in turn allowed the stronger plants to grow bigger, as there was more room, and produce more.

4.  By allowing the orchard, vegetable garden and field grow as nature intended the numbers of pests and diseases declined markedly as nature found her own balance in the ecology of that area. 

Now having said all that does that mean that I’m going to allow my garden to return to a jungle like state???? NO.  Sorry but I need order but I am going to allow plants to grow more naturally and as nature intended rather than try to train them to what I think is the correct way to grow.  I don’t use pesticides anyway – hate them.  I don’t use chemicals except for a small amount of weed killer which I loathe but unfortunately sometimes is a necessary evil. I don’t really even use compost as I can never get my compost bin to work properly. Instead I tend to put the mulch from pruning straight onto the beds and let it do it’s thing. 

I have experimented with the vegie garden in the past couple of days.  Normally at this time I year I let it lie fallow.  Anything still growing can stay there but I generally don’t plant anything else until Autumn arrives as it is too hot and keeping the water up to the beds can be difficult.  This year I’m trying something different.  I had cleaned out the vegie garden the other week and mulched it – all before I read this book I might add.    Yesterday I pulled back the mulch from one bed, grabbed several handfuls of carrot seeds (from my garden) and scattered the seed liberally onto the bed. No rows.  Just scattered it.  I loosely spread the mulch back over the top of the seed, gave it a quick water and now I’m going to leave it.  If it’s super hot and dry for a period of time I might give it more water but that’s it.

Tonight I mixed up seeds of two kinds of lettuce  (one of which I had collected myself), spring onions, rocket, silver beet, marigolds (dwarf ones)  and more carrots (a purple carrot this time).  In another bed I pulled back the mulch again, spread these seeds liberally and covered them up again.  A quick water and I was done. I’m hoping that nature will take over and one plant will shade another and they will all grow happily.  At the back of that bed I put in some luffa seeds.  So far I have had no luck with them but I’m hoping with the heat and humidity we are having they may decide they like my garden and will grow.

Will it work?  Honestly I don’t know. It is exciting though wondering what will happen and if the worst happens and nothing grows then I have wasted very little seed and not much time.  I might add if it doesn’t work this time I shall try again later in the year and see how I go.

Even if you aren’t into a radical change of your gardening technique do try to get a copy of One Straw Revolution and have a read. It’s beautifully written and very enlightening on not only the growing of food and crops but also just what we eat and why we should take a more simplified approach to our eating habits. 

I shall leave you with this thought that really struck a chord with me after reading the book.

Is it better to eat tomatoes in season and only when they are in season or pay exorbitant prices for tomatoes out of season, so you can eat them all year round ,which are grown with the use of chemicals and pesticides and are not really as nature intended?  For that matter are the out of season tomatoes as full of nutrients than those that are grown in season?


6 thoughts on “One Straw Revolution

  1. I was fed up with oxalice (spelling?) and so spread layers of newspaper and covered them with empty pots for a couple of seasons during the drought….I am using the bed again now and some are coming through but I will be tempted to newspaper and mulch at the end of the season. Especially through the drought I bought Eziwet? blue packet brand of compost and mulch at Bunnings and used the compost, then mulch, then sugar cane mulch to plant into and saved my cold water at the sink into 3 lt plastic bottles which I topped up with seasol or maxi crop and my handyman could use them when he planted stuff…….I put heaps of wetta soil stuff in…….I think my place has drained well in all this rain.
    I have tomatoes and have not been out for about 4 days in the humidity…….they will be well ripe… tear drop ones.
    The zucchini will also be getting out of hand…..never mind.
    I have heard a lot of those principles stated before and believe them to be valid…..have fun.

  2. I like the idea of not turning the soil but am at the point where all the thorns have taken over so not sure how to get rid of them without digging them up. This idea of not turning soil isn’t new for me but it’s hard to just let things be 🙂

  3. I did see the back of the bus parked in the yard on one water filled post and thought at the time…. they should all board that bus and move to higher ground…in case…

    Yep…. it’s only “Stuff”… but, did you notice it’s only the people not involved who refer to it as such? It’s always the lucky ones just sitting home reading about it and making their armchair opinions known. Wait til it’s their precious stuff that took years to manage to accumulate and hard earned dollars to buy it with… … they’ll change their stupid tune then!

  4. Oh…and…. forgot to say. Happy Birthday!!

    Funny how many of us are having January birthdays… mine’s just gone… my hubby’s is tomorrow… two other bloggers I read had them a day or two ago… weird….

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