As hard as I’ve tried not to have expectations on this project, I’m happy to say that my expectations were exceeded the day I plucked a plump grain off a rice plant, popped it in my mouth and savored it’s sweet, tender taste. That was around September 25th. On September 28th and 29th, we harvested the entire plot by cutting the stalks just above ground level. We used harvesting clippers, which was a little tedious. Next year we hope to have scythes to make the task more efficient.
After several long, hard days in late May/early June of getting our rice paddy set up for the summer growing season, we were able to sit back and just watch the rice plants grow. While the white clover has only been marginally successful in establishing itself, we’ve done almost no weeding at all in the paddy this summer.
There was a period in late June/early July when we went 3 weeks without any rain, and there was a noticeable slow-down in growth. I became concerned at that time that the rice wouldn’t survive a prolonged drought, so I installed a sprinkler system in the paddy that was supplied by rain catchment water.
Having spent many years living in Japan, both my wife, Haruka and I had become quite accustomed to eating rice on a daily basis. When we moved back to the states, our desire to eat rice every day stayed with us, and being the rice snobs we are, we often find ourselves buying rice produced in Asia. We sought a more sustainable option, and Masanobu Fukuoka, who wrote One Straw Revolution gave us the inspiration to try our hand at growing rice in North Carolina.
Fukuoka’s book is a must-read for anyone, and while we’re generally following the tenets he laid down over more than 3 decades of farming, we have carved out our own approach to growing rice this year.