This is all about my farms on Tanegashima, a small island
with a subtropical climate
located off the coast of Kyushu, one of the four main
islands of Japan.
Picture - Us picking
potatoes in our farm.
I began farming (gardening) as a child growing up in
Kenmore, New York. Our home had a small space behind the
garage where my parents let me go crazy growing whatever I
wanted. I eventually moved to San Diego, California for
college, purchased a home, and was back to gardening in a
small space once again. Many years later I married Akiko and
we moved, with our son, to a small house in Nara, which also
had very limited gardening space. We moved again, this time
to Tanegashima Island where we rented a home that included a
couple of farms totaling probably about 400 square meters or
4,000 square feet. This is when our real farming began.
After three years we moved back to California, bought a
property up in the mountains (about 4,000 feet above sea
level) and put in a lot of effort trying to grow anything.
After only six months there we returned to Tanegashima,
bought a house and the rest is history. Now we are farming
about 800 square meters.
My wife Akiko and sons, Shai, Lael, and Ethan work together
and are producing some incredibly
tasty stuff. We are working towards total self sufficiency
and already we are growing 100% of our beverage, snack, and
veggie requirements. Our methods are certainly not
conventional, to say the least, with most of our efforts on
a trial and error basis. We do not use any chemical
fertilizers or pesticides with only the occasional use of
organic manure from either cows or chickens. We use very
little mechanization or man made materials, although we did
give in and bought a rototiller after my shoulders gave out.
The stuff we produce is not always the best looking, in fact
often pretty ugly, but the taste is out of this world.
Hopefully you find the information on these pages useful.
These tools can be used in many different ways, for many
different tasks, and really all you need for successful farming. I basically
divide them into two categories....working tools and hand tools.
Working tools include: a wheelbarrow, shovel, hoe,
and a rake.
Hand tools include: a shovel, hoe, rake, clippers,
and a tree saw.
With this arsenal at your disposal, there is no way you can go wrong.
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 is not like conventional farming with
same size beds all used for growing the same thing. We are
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.
How does the saying go?....Making your bed and lying in it. What about....Making your bed and
growing in it.
Successful farming begins with good beds. The type of bed
you should use is very subjective and the subject of debate
in the farming community. From straight line beds, to
rectangles and squares, to free form designs, the choice is
really up to you. Keep experimenting until you find a design
that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. I
experimented with lots of bed designs until I settled on,
what I think, works best.
Bamboo sounds like one of the noises made when people got hit in the old Batman
shows, you know....biff....boffo....bam....bamboo. Maybe even a good word
around Halloween when you blow something up and try to scare someone at the same
Actually bamboo is a group of flowering perennial evergreen plants in the grass family.
Bamboos are some of the fastest-growing plants in the world. Certain species of
bamboo can grow 35 inches or more within a 24-hour period. This means plenty of bamboo
to go around for all your projects.
Bamboo has a higher compressive strength than wood, brick, or concrete and a
tensile strength that rivals steel.
Tanegashima island is blessed with a subtropical climate and the jungles which
often grow in this type of environment. And of course, what would a jungle be
Varying in thickness from a strong fishing line to a small tree, the vines on
this island can be used for a wide variety of projects.
Although I am Jewish, practice my faith, and celebrate many
of the holidays, I must admit to a certain fascination with
Buddhism. No, I am not planning to convert or anything like
that, but I thought it might be fun to apply many of the
concept of Buddhism to farming. I began working on this
list. If any of you can think of more, please do post a
comment at the bottom of the page. Thanks and keep on
"A little treat for our regular
Comparing Farming with Buddhism
Four Noble Truths of Buddhism becomes:
Four Noble Truths of Farming
- Farming is good
- Farming is the production of food. This is
a good thing of course. There are also numerous physical and
psychological benefits associated with farming.
- Farming is necessary
- Farming supplies a growing world
population with food. Without farming humanity would be
dependent on foraging and/or the consumption of animals.
- Farming is sustainable
- Farming can be accomplished without
compromising the ability for current or future generations
to meet their needs.
- Farming is life
- Farming is all about life....receiving
from the Earth and giving to the Earth in an ongoing cycle.
Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism becomes:
Noble Eightfold Path of Farming
- Work with nature
- Climate, weather, and soil, are all part
of nature. Climate and weather and out of your control but
you can still work around and even use variations to your
advantage. Soil can be amended to suit your needs.
- Use natural materials
- Using organic fertilizers and
natural pest control methods protects the environment while
resulting in some of the best tasting food you will ever
- Share with others
- Farming doesn’t need to be a solitary
endeavor. Include family and friends and even the community
to develop a sense of cooperation and giving. Produce more
than you can possibly use and give the rest away to family
and friends or those who are in need.
- Recycle everything
- This is not only about composting.
Materials found around the house, at the beach, etc., can al
be converted into something for use in the farms.
- Learn continuously
- Farming is all about learning and
adapting. What works one year might turn out to be a total
disaster the next.
- Be productive
- Grow as much as you can in the space
- Embrace experimentation
- Don’t be afraid to try something
new. Conventional farming wisdom might work for commercial
farmers but production isn’t all about size and form. Crops
don’t need to be huge and perfect to taste good.
- Enjoy yourself
- The most important point of farming is to
Ten Precepts of Buddhism becomes:
Ten Precepts of Farming
- Farm with enthusiasm
- Farm with beauty
- Farm with respect
- Farm with control
- Farm with others
- Farm without chemicals
- Farm without mechanisms
- Farm without waste
- Farm without destruction
- Farm without constraints
The 108 Desires of Buddhism becomes:
- The 108
Desires of Farming (still trying to get to 108)
- Determine farm size
- Consider farm location
- Analyze soil
- Utilize all space
- Use rectangular beds
- Grow close to the kitchen
- Grow only what you eat
- Practice intercropping
- Do companion planting
- Use close spacing
- Grow vertically
- Use succession planting
- Use companion planting
- Mix seasonal crops
- Use crops to feel the seasons
- Provide wind protection
- Keep adequate drainage
- Keep soil tilled
- Consider direction for logical placement
- Pay close attention to the weather
- Consider climate change
- Keep farms beautiful
- Control weeds
- Grow flowers
- Include trees
- Practice tropical rainforest irrigation
- Collect rain
- Do not use chemical fertilizers
- Compost everything
- Reuse materials – ie mulch, compost, for smoker
- Do not use pesticides
- Identify pests
- Hand pick pests
- Introduce good bugs
- Do not use herbicides
- Keep farms weed free
- Pull not cut
- Grow only edible crops
- Grow more than you need
- Pick often
- Pick only what you can eat
- Keep it simple
- Avoid mechanization
- Recycle everything
- Use natural materials
- Keep seeds
- Anticipate future needs
- RECORD KEEPING
- Keep weather log
- Keep planting log
- Keep harvesting log
- Look at your successes
- Look at your unsuccesses
- Consider alternatives