This is a story about an international couple raising and home educating three young boys on a small island in Japan, half living in buses, engaged in organic, self-sufficient farming in the middle of a mountain forest while dealing with climate, cultural, and personal challenges. These pages are about pretty much anything and everything all guided by our family motto, Taking Chances, Making Changes, Being Happy. Thank you very much for joining us on our ongoing crazy adventure.

Comments or questions about this blog?....message me at Facebook.
Farm plan upper upper making jaxa and nasa space exploration theme beds pattern and drainageFarm Plans

Any good project begins with a plan. When we began farming on a larger scale it became necessary to make a farm plan. Our type of farming was not like conventional farming with same size beds all used for growing the same thing. We were growing a wide variety of veggies and herbs in the same farm. A good plan from the beginning simply makes it easier to figure out where everything is going to go. This is also a good way to ensure good companion planting....making sure to grow compatible veggies together while separating those that are not good together. I began using the paint program to make farm plans. Yeah a pretty archaic program but not as difficult to use for this purpose as you might think. A side benefit of making farm plans is the cute little maps are fun for the kids. Using the maps to make a farm treasure hunt really gets the kids interested in farming.

The following are plans that we actually used, and guess what....they worked.
Lower Farm

This farm was located at the rear of the house and was constantly flooded due to the heavy rains typical of the island throughout the year, especially during the Summer monsoon season. I needed to figure out a way to add good drainage to the farm. I used a square bed pattern with the beds turned 45 degrees to the back of the house. This allowed rain to drain off into the jungle at the rear of the farm and then continue on to the coast.
Farm plan lower making diamond beds pattern and drainageLower Farm Complete

This was one of the first attempts at square bed farming and it worked out great. The only problem was the beds were made as two meter by two meter squares, too wide to be able to easily reach the middle of the beds. This meant occasionally stepping on the beds....unacceptable. Next season I began using beds that were only one meter wide.
Upper Farm

This farm was where we grew all of our delicate veggies and herbs. This was the most wind protected of the three farms and definitely had the best drainage. This meant I could be a little creative here. I went for an offset square design in order to add a bit more wind protection but mostly for aesthetics. The small orange squares in this farm plan were for wild turmeric, again more for looks than anything else.
Farm plan upper making offset square beds pattern and drainageUpper Farm Complete

With the exception of sweet potatoes (still using straight line beds for those), I am now using all rectangular beds in my farms. The beds are all one meter (about three feet) wide and vary in length from two, to over twenty meters. The great thing about this design is the ease of working on the beds. Working from either side, everything is within a half a meter reach. Easy to sow seeds and seedlings, easy to weed and mulch, and easy to harvest.
Upper Upper Farm

This farm was a small overgrown jungle before we got to it. A bunch of trees and lots of weeds. After a couple of months, working with only hand tools, the farm was ready with the finished product shown in the picture. I decided to really have some fun with this farm plan.
Farm plan upper upper making jaxa and nasa space exploration theme beds pattern and drainageUpper Upper Farm Complete

Tanegashima island is home to the Tanegashima Space Center where the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launches their rockets. Many times JAXA and NASA work together on projects. We watched many rocket launches in the first couple of years on the island and it was impressive to say the least. This inspired me to turn our upper farm into a kind of tribute to the two space agencies. I grew carrots on the raised letters and the rocket, the phallic looking section next to the "J" in JAXA and the "N" in NASA. This bed backed to a main road on the island, and on occasion, someone would pull to the side of the road and take a picture.