We got a little tired of the clover growing well when it's wet, and going all crispy and crunchy underfoot when it doesn't rain for a few weeks. Also, the feijoa and olive trees were planted too close together, and because the ground wasn't prepared properly they weren't thriving.
So we asked Y's garden to remedy the situation by pulling up all the clover, improving the soil, and moving the trees somewhere more sensible.
Y came with a crew of three gardening men and they worked all day with much sighing and lamentation, pulling up the deeply rooted clover. They proposed to take away the clover in their truck, but I'd sooner lose a finger than let such a large amount of composting material out of my hands.
When the gardeners pulled up the trees, they promptly baled them up with sacking, as is their way. The root balls were no bigger than when the trees were brought in two years ago, attesting to how miserly the last lot of gardeners were with their ground preparation -- the roots hadn't grown at all.
The medium selected for improving the soil was this Canadian peat moss. English peat moss being a very dodgy, unsustainable sort of material, I promptly looked this up in alarm. It's supposed to regenerate itself, but I wonder if say, composted shredded bamboo wouldn't be a better option in Japan. Not that it's available...
My contribution to soil amelioration is this pot of charcoal with other secret ingredients. My reading on Terra Preta leads me to believe that charcoal alone won't be enough. Something biologically active is required. The high aroma of this preparation and its attractiveness to flies of all sorts suggests that a certain level of biological activity has been achieved. As I worked it into the soil, I recalled my visits to restaurants in isolated parts of France where the owner would bring out his most challenging homemade cheeses to test the mettle of rare foreign visitors.