having read through:
_the One Straw Revolution_
_the Natural Way of Farming_
_the Road Back to Nature_
_Sowing Seeds in the Desert_
it would be difficult to give a long review of
them. much is similar/identical between the four.
if you had to read them i would go with 2 and 4,
with more time 1,2 and 4 (2 is the most practical).
if you are a hard core scientist then i'm not
sure you would be able to understand his views.
if you have had some exposure to eastern
philosophies and methods of thought then you may
have more success.
overall his approach is to do as little as
no tilling, no fertilizers, no pesticides and
this is very misleading, but it does make the point
he is after (doing as little as possible). he may not
till his rice field, but he does dig holes to plant
fruit trees and he does dig in his vegetable garden
nearer to his house. he also does thin around selected
plants to discourage weeds and to encourage the plants
(but supposedly he doesn't pull them he just cuts them
back). he has used chicken manure as fertilizer, and
he does use machine oil concoctions at times on trees
for controlling outbreaks of certain pests (rarely).
also there are comments about not getting too
involved with composting (nature knows how to break
the wikipedia is currently wrong too (it says that
he is not in favor of terracing -- in several of the
above writings he says terracing is good, but that it
is best to use materials available at the site).
his specific rotation for the rice field was to
plant the rice and barley at the same time (using
clay pellets made out of certain materials including
the rice, barley and white clover seeds). then after
specific periods of time he would harvest the barley,
let the clover grow for a bit, then flood the field
to weaken the clover and to give the rice a chance
to get going (for a few days). he also returns all
the straw from the crops to the fields (not compacted
or put down tightly, but just scattered loosely to
his method does not leave the rice paddy flooded
for large parts of the growing season (in stark
contrast to his neighbors).
for his fruit tree methods, i would say that
he and Sepp Holzer are somewhat similar. he talks
about the natural form of a fruit tree and that
once a tree is damaged or pruned then it can be
much more work. growing from seed, planting a
mixed community of understory plants/vegetables
and green manure/legumes to keep the soil active
i'm not really a rice/grain farmer so that means
i'm not familiar with the plants/methods of
harvesting and the work involved in getting the
crop planted and taken back in. so much of what
he does detail is theory to me, not anything i've
attempted to practice.
in the middle of a rainy spell, when faced with
little to do other than wait for sunshine, it's a
good thing to ponder different methods and to see
what others have to say. it would take quite a bit
of time to summarize and do a scholarly review of
his whole works, to winnow out redundencies and to
trace the progression/changes of methods. i think
even he would say it is not worth it. that his
ideas are for his place/climate/crops/etc.
to do something else in another place he puts
forth the idea to take seeds of all types and soil
from a healthy forest and to mix them together and
make seed balls. then to scatter all of that and
see what happens. he comments about the California
grasslands (taken over by non-native species) that
they could be reforested and restored by such a
method. would be interesting to see it attempted
on a large enough scale...
overall, at least he is not damaging the land and
is building topsoil and fertility. he is using his
land as a refuge for other creatures and not poisoning
them. i give him high marks for that and for paying
attention enough to what nature is saying.
as he lived a good long life and practiced his
methods for many years he's certainly gotten the
practical mark needed for any one i would consider
listening to when it comes to using such methods
(many years longer than i).
he has passed away (at 95 yrs) and now his son and
family are continuing, i hope they will do as well.
i will have these books for a few more weeks if you
have specific questions (before i move on to other
authors/topics). looks like more rain...