This morning I went to meet with a local veteran farmer who shares similar views on farming. His name is Kannnatsu. Our friends introduced us, because he was such and interesting person, and also may be able to start our rice seedlings for us.
There is some background here that is important. Though we initially started farming, expecting to plant rice in an untilled paddy, we have since found that tilling will be essential, until we get a good cover crop established. So this year we have plowed and will be planting rice sprouts.
Starting the seedlings from scratch is a tricky job that starts with selecting the good seed from the whole batch, soaking it until it sprouts, and then planting it in small containers something like ice cube trays. After the sprouts grow covered for about 10 days, then most farmers uncover them for 10 more then plant. Mr. Kannnatsu plants his after a total of 35 days, so they're quite a bit taller.
Mr. Kannatsu is convinced that building the soil is the key, and not with chemical additives, but with rice straw, husks, and bran. He also suggested that if our goal is to plant our paddy without tilling it, then leaving water in it year round is the best way to go. Writing this makes me wonder what will happen around harvest time, when other farmers' paddies are relatively dry and they can lay their cut rice plants on the ground before binding them and hanging them on the racks to dry. Something else to learn.
It was a dense conversation with more content than I could easily process. He is a professional with a lifetime of experience, and I am a true beginner. It is funny to me that I started on this journey of self sufficiency thinking that our small family would be alone in our efforts. I had no idea that I would meet so many like-minded people who are working with nature and with each other to provide good food for themselves and others.