rice companion plant

© EunYoung Sebazco

koshikikari 8.6.14

Duckweeds could be a rice companion plant, a sustainable practice on the small rice paddy!

What the duckweeds do. They clean the water, provide bio-fertilizer, allege control, and limit mosquitoes. These are things that humans are not able to control without adding chemicals. Also, duckweeds contain high amounts of protein, more so than soy bean. Duckweeds are a good food resource in some parts of Asia for both animals and humans. Duckweeds spread quick, colonies of them could cause a problem of oxygen. But, don’t worry, we have a solar air pump and other good friends working together in the water.

Duckweeds call in Korean ” Keguri bap” means ” Bullfrog’s rice”. A lot of time Bullfrogs live in the rice paddies. The duckweeds are extremely dense on the surface of the water that when they swim out of the water, their face is covered with duckweeds. So, it looks like bullfrogs are eating the duckweeds. That’s how we named it? In Korea while the little children are eating rice and if they leave some rice on their face, the parents say ” You have bullfrog’s rice on your face”. I love the sound of word “Keguri bap”.

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Lessons from past

I have few books that I have read over and over again for reference. ”Just enoughLessons 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.
justenoughtitleblockv2-500px 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.
just-enough_wetland-1-e1331693095102In 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.