I have few books that I have read over and over again for reference. ”Just enough: Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan“ (Written by Azby Brown) is one. Few years ago, when I had a big questions about sustainable gardening, this book lead me out of the dark tunnel.
The stories about how people lived in Japan a few hundreds years ago during the Edo period just before Japan opened up to western culture. The people of the Edo period intelligently managed their homes, fields, and forests; developed innovative designs for the things they needed, and maintained a sustainable society. While I was reading, I found a few interesting drawings that captured my eye. It was Illustrations of rice cultivation. It tells how to prepared the field, how to sow, transplant, harvest, dry, thresh, hull, winnow, polish, along with the rice cultivation cycle chart for the season. It was based 300 hundreds years ago, but I found out not much has changed these days. Our rice paddy was a miniature man-made pond compared the Edo rice field. We had tried to make an environment as close as what Edo period. As you see the growth illustration during the growing season, natural habitats thrived in the rice paddies. A few examples are the way we created extensive artificial wetlands releasing fish to help insect control and the irrigation system, and planting trumpet-shaped flower Morning glory along the rice paddy to invite birds.
In the book at the end of the rice chapter, it also shows the diagram of how the people of the Edo period utilized every byproduct with food, household, fuel, mulch, compost and so on. The “zero-waste” ideal! As I learned from the book, I am hoping that our rice paddy helps us to understand not only food culture, but also sustainable culture.