Sunday, February 18, 2007

Masanobu Fukuoka
"do-nothing method of natural farming".


I have recently read that there are those that like to disclaim being "a granola crunching, Silent Spring toting, environmentalist whacko" when talking about the earth and growing things. Understandable when such labels dredge up preconcieved notions that can undermine the validity of what one has to say.

But I am not afraid and will wear the tag proudly and aspire to actually living up to such an indictment.
Instead of 'Silent Spring' the book I tote tends to vary but most often is 'The One Straw Revolution' by Mansanobu Fukuoka. A philosophy of life as well as the garden, interests me more than the scientific verification of mankinds mistakes. I have read what Rachel Carson had to say and am grateful for her work but I have never used such chemicals and as Bill Mollison has said " choose your friends from people who you like what they do - even though you mightn't like what they say" So I chose those writers that have lived their words...

The writings of this wise old farmer, Mansanobu Fukuoka, helped me to understand what to do and how to do it in my own garden. He helped me understand how to watch, to learn from the earth and the plants and the creatures themself...to figure out where we fit and what we should do or not do.
I have learned that weeds and insects have a part to play and that there is a balance that will develope in time if our intrusion does not cause upset .

In a later writing of Fukuoka's he talks about using seed balls. Mixing many kinds of seeds in mud balls to reclaim waste land. I wondered if these could be made with native plants and tossed into neglected urban lots. Such musing brought to light this site.

Seed Balls

I am so tempted!!!


FUKUOKA: First of all, I operate under four firm principles.
The first is NO TILLING . . . that is, no turning or plowing of the soil. Instead, I let the earth cultivate itself by means of the penetration of plant roots and the digging activity of micro-organisms, earthworms, and small animals.

The second rule is NO CHEMICAL FERTILIZER OR PREPARED COMPOST.
I've found that you can actually drain the soil of essential nutrients by careless use of such dressings! Left alone, the earth maintains its own fertility, in accordance with the orderly cycle of plant and animal life.

The third guideline I follow is NO WEEDING, either by cultivation or by herbicides. Weeds play an important part in building soil fertility and in balancing the biological community . . . so I make it a practice to control—rather than eliminate—the weeds in my fields. Straw mulch, a ground cover of white clover interplanted with the crops, and temporary flooding all provide effective weed control in my fields.

The final principle of natural farming is NO PESTICIDES. As I've emphasized before, nature is in perfect balance when left alone. Of course, harmful insects and diseases are always present, but normally not to such an extent that poisonous chemicals are required to correct the situation. The only sensible approach to disease and insect control, I think, is to grow sturdy crops in a healthy environment.
To read more in the old man's own words...
The Plowboy Interview


Biography...

BiographyFukuoka

4 Comments:

Blogger firefly said...

Thanks so much for these links -- I'm still digesting all the information. Just ordered a used copy of "One Straw Revolution" too.

I agree, the seed ball idea is very tempting -- not so much for reclamation, but to protect things that like direct-sowing and might otherwise become squirrel food. Last year I started some things in peat pellets, which didn't work out so well.

I've toyed with the idea of planting vegetables here and there in the yard. Interesting that he found they revert to more strongly flavored forms -- I imagine with a better set of defenses too.

21/2/07 11:45 AM  
Blogger Colleen said...

Gloria,
Thank you for introducing me to a writer I know I'll enjoy reading! I will look for a copy of "One Straw Revolution" right away. The seed ball thing would work wonderfully for introducing native vegetation into urban lots. All you'd have to do is chuck them over the fence. No one would even notice. Hmmmm. Very, very tempting :-)

22/2/07 7:58 AM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Firefly, there is much to think on that is true. This part in the interview is telling..............

PLOWBOY: Then successful natural farming is not simply a do-nothing technique?

FUKUOKA: No, it actually involves a process of bringing your mind as closely in line as possible with the natural functioning of the environment.

However, you have to be careful:
This method does not mean that we should suddenly throw away all the scientific knowledge about horticulture that we already have.

That course of action is simply abandonment, because it ignores the cycle of dependence that humans have imposed upon an altered ecosystem. If a farmer does abandon his or her "tame" fields completely to nature, mistakes and destruction are inevitable.

The real path to natural farming requires that a person know what unaltered nature is, so that he or she can instinctively understand what needs to be done—and what must not be done—to work in harmony with its processes....
...............................

Like all in a position of respect or power he forgets how he came there or does not believe we must do the same...................

PLOWBOY: Are you telling us to abandon all logical reasoning?

FUKUOKA: Yes!

PLOWBOY: But Mr. Fukuoka, you did a lot of experimenting and research yourself in the process of developing the concept of natural farming. You used reason . . . and now you're telling us to discard it all?

FUKUOKA: Exactly! Throw away your own ideas for a moment and let the results of my experiments be the seed of some new ideas and ways of thinking.....

For a while maybe but my own pathway my own priorities must lead my own journey..............

Colleen, I have several weed patches in mind for those seed balls but am unsure of the ethics of such behavior.I figure the weeds there are bringing the soil to readiness and the reintroduction of natives is the natural evolution if man does not soon rebuild. I just want to lend a helping hand sort of speed up the process as it were. Earth has much time, I have little and since I am part of the web maybe this is my role????

22/2/07 2:30 PM  
Blogger firefly said...

However, you have to be careful:
This method does not mean that we should suddenly throw away all the scientific knowledge about horticulture that we already have.

That course of action is simply abandonment, because it ignores the cycle of dependence that humans have imposed upon an altered ecosystem.

.... The real path to natural farming requires that a person know what unaltered nature is, so that he or she can instinctively understand what needs to be done—and what must not be done—to work in harmony with its processes....


That part of the interview is exactly where I decided I had to read the book. Such a finely drawn understanding of the intersection between cultivated and wild is awe-inspiring.

I am really keen to see how far I can incorporate this approach in a small urban back yard.

23/2/07 6:39 PM  

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