Thursday, 15 March 2012

Creepy Charlie

It is March 15, 2012 and no, I haven't changed my name, I am referring to what in Manitoba is known as Creeping Charlie and creeps around your lawn, being almost impossible to eradicate. "Summer Fallow" in Japan appears to mean a field filled with a green carpet of Creeping Charlie.
This week Yayoi and I were introduced to the Japanese variety of this which can grow up to 20cm tall among the vegetables. The garden/farm had not been weeded in a long time and the green onion and daikon were lost among the creeps. We dug up mounds of the stuff hoping to dry it and eventually burn it. The hakusai or Chinese cabbage is sheathed in plastic which eventually disintegrates and brown leaves surround a compressed cabbage which can then be eaten after removing the outer leaves. Too bad the crop did not do too well, possible frost damage (cold year in Japan) as well as "mushi", that is worms.
The style of farming is quite different than Manitoba involving greenhouse enclosures over rows of vegetable, black plastic mulch to retain heat, moisture and suppress weeds and soil which is quite soft, due in some part to repeated tilling prior to planting. The tools used are also quite unusual, with one of my favourites depicted called a "Kuwa" and used as a hoe and as a spade. It works quite well lifting a large section of weedy soil. The greenhouses in the background use vinyl sheathing which may last 3-4 years, but had to be replaced this last summer due to the typhoons passing through.
Then there is my faithful buddy "Muku". I began walking him this week and now he believes we are best friends. I am not sure whether he is dog or wolf as he never barks, only howls when he sees me, begging for another walk.

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