Saturday, February 23, 2008
On Friday, Chiba-san the tree man came with a weeping plum (shidare ume), 3 olives in 2 varieties, 2 feijoas and 1 dogwood to replace the one that died (blamed squarely on my mismanagement - humph, I'm innocent).
The plum apparently produces plums that can be used for umeshu (plum liquor) which is good, because I make a lot of it.
Chiba-san and his mate had a lot of bad things to say about our soil - how bad the drainage is, how hard it is, how full of weeds - nothing I didn't know. He suggested getting a small digger in, putting down a good supply of weedkiller, and mixing bark into the soil. Since I differ in my approach, favouring the biological over the petrochemical techniques that Chiba-san quietly supports, I bought a pick-axe and started working over the soil to a depth of one-and-a-bit picks. I mixed in a load of rice husks, bark, and chopped dried ... weeds. It was hard work, but we're not afraid of that.
Olives are becoming a very popular garden tree in Japan, and frankly I can't see why. I don't think they look that good, and most people here don't do anything with the olives, if indeed they manage to produce any with only one plant. Doing something useful with the olives requires a lot of work, but this seems well worth the effort. I rather like the idea of processing them with ash rather than brine. Bamboo ash is more readily available than brine on this particular hillside, and is easier to dispose of when the olives are done.