Friday, June 29, 2007

Big cooking pots => Ponds

We found a junk/antique shop in Matsuyama that specializes in local 'aged articles of value' at reasonable prices. Here I spied 3 large cooking pots. At our favourite garden center, Tokiwa Garland, they have a similar one filled with water plants. I had always wondered where you get something like that, and how much it must cost. Well mine was just 6,000 yen for the big one, and another 4,000 yen for the smaller ones, delivery to the house included. Considering that a pond liner of a similar size and no character whatsoever costs around 30,000 yen, I think I got a deal. The big one used to belong to the Dogo Japan Agricultural Coop where they used for parties. I'm confident that these ponds won't leak.

Getting dug in

Water plants from a local lake and the DIY store

And little 'Daruma medaka' fish from our local medaka outlet

The medaka man and his elderly dad assured us that medaka do not live in rainwater. In fact, rainwater is like poison to them, and if we were cruel enough to try it, our five little fish would be dead within 4~5 hours. The pH of the acid rain that falls would be the death of them. Instead, we were to mix tap water with the right amount of pH adjuster, and let it stand until it was the same temperature as the fishes' water.

I confess I was nearly persuaded, but the young master pooh-poohed all this nonsense, and we put the medaka straight into the poisonous environment we had prepared for them. 4~5 days later, they're still not dead.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Rice planting

With the onset of the 'rainy season' (what is generally called the 'monsoon' in Asian countries), the time has come to plant rice. It's not something we normally do, but Kawabe-san of Selco Homes invited us to join him, his father, wife and daughters in planting the plot they own below our house.

We got up at an early 7:30 and hurried to get to the rice paddy for 8:30 as arranged. We were digusted to find that they hadn't arrived, and figured they had lingered in bed, so we went looking for them. We found them at their other rice field which they had already planted...
The young master joined Kawabe-san on the planting machine for the ride to the second field.

I had a turn driving the planter for one row, and it's amazingly easy. All you need to do is keep the 'whiskers' of the planter aligned with the outside row, and the busy little mechanical fingers at the back plant 4 rows of rice.

Our neighbourhood has taken on a new face, with even more water around. You wouldn't know by looking at it that conditions are actually on the dry side. The frogs are fantastically noisy, but we can't hear them with the windows closed.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Geodesic dome

Today the young master and I rode down to a carpenter's shop on the sea wall to join our comrades from the Mugen Mura NPO in assembling a geodesic dome. The dome was designed with CAD and the carpenter cut the wood to a higher standard than the undemanding ISO Good Enough that is usual for Mugen Mura engineering projects. We banged and screwed together the precision cut pieces which all went together nicely to make a very substantial structure.

The point of the exercise was to prove that Mugen Mura can make a geodesic dome. And the point of this is to use the wood that Mugen Mura will harvest from its new forest management project. After getting permission to manage some forest in Hojo, the NPO will use the thinnings to make geodesic domes, charcoal, and other useful things.

Now that we have a prototype geodesic dome that is both sturdy and easily disassembled and stowed on a light truck, the question is what to do with it. One suggestion is to put it up on our land and use it as a teahouse for resting in while making charcoal for the Terra Preta de Indio. Whether planning permission can be gained from her indoors remains to be seen. A geodesic dome and a semi-public charcoal furnace might be considered a serious undertaking.

The young master and I then spent the arvo enjoying the slow life of Hojo.

Stone mulch

On the advice of a gardening expert, viz my mum, I used some of the stones dug out of my uncle's ground to mulch our new hedges and trees. The idea is to keep the moisture in, and to keep the soil form disturbance by watering.

And by jove, it works. Even on really hot days, instead of turning into a crust and cracking, the soil stays moist around the stones, and the leaves of the trees don't wilt as much as they did before.