Sunday, January 03, 2010

What I did over New Year

The young master is studying hard for his junior high school entrance exams and so this New Year, we didn't go anywhere or 'do' anything. However, I was not idle.

Here's what I did.

I finished my bamboo fence, with two styles.

Since this involved visits to the bamboo grove, I felt compelled to tidy things up in there.

Before.
Dead wood everywhere, stifling new growth.

After.
Room for new shoots in the spring.
It's actually possible to see from one end of the grove to the other now.

I went to the local sake brewery, Yuki Suzume and bought a bottle of junmaishu of which I drank quantities, warmed in the microwave.

All full of sake, I photographed the moon on New Year's eve.

I built a stone wall to replace the untidy wooden rows I put up in a hurry to stabilize the soil when we first moved in.

I liquidated the compost piles as backfill in the new wall. The compost piles were also situated in haste when we moved in, and they weren't put in a very good place.

I built a new compost enclosure on an old raised bed and filled it up with the remains of the summer vegetables (tomatoes and eggplants).

All of this manual labour took a toll on my hands which are now as rough as sandpaper and covered in cuts and purple blotches. At these times I'm reminded of the film The Killing Fields where the horrible Khmer Rouge felt people's hands to see if they were labourers, killing those who weren't. I wonder if I'd pass, or have to claim that I was a taxi driver. Handling stones dries out the skin wonderfully, and touching bamboo cuts it to ribbons and implants little splinters that must be dug out. Still, the physical tiredness at the end of the day feels very good compared with intellectual labour. If only it were as remunerative...

4 comments:

Olive Tree Guitar Ensemble said...

Hi, it's a very great blog.
I could tell how much efforts you've taken on it.
Keep doing!

Jacqueline said...

You might have heard that Washington, DC has had unprecedented snow. My pretty thick Bamboo grove is flattened under a couple feet of snow and I will have to thin it out in the spring. No one, including the local yard waste collectors, wants my bamboo (I am embarrassed to admit I like my grove at the local garden club). How do you make a bamboo fence? Yours are quite lovely.

Rod said...

Hi Jacqueline,

There are a few points to bear in mind with making a bamboo fence.

You need a forest-load of bamboo to make anything of any length. Unless you have a huge grove, you'll probably be restricted to something quite modest. Not to worry though, even a short section looks good, or a style that uses only a little material.

The basic approach is to bang in some hardwood posts and screw on some long, straight horizontal bamboos, then fill in with upright bamboo. Then using natural rough black string, you tie everything together. You can use the bamboo whole, or split. If you split it finely enough, you can even weave it. You can also use bundles of twigs.

There's actually a book called Building Bamboo Fences by Isao Yoshikawa, mentioned here;

http://matsuyama-eco-home.blogspot.com/2008/04/bamboo.html

It covers everything, with lots of inspiring examples using every sort of bamboo.

But really, you don't need a book. The best approach is just to make a start and see how it goes.

Jacqueline said...

Thanks so much. You give me confidence to start the concept. I am thinking of covering some of the chain link fence. So, I have a structure to start with. My original idea was to weave bamboo through the fence, like a basket... but quite frankly that would take me a decade to accomplish. Spring project concept in mind. I will let you know how it goes. All the best from a very wintery looking Takoma Park, MD.