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Extra resources for The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming
Instead, I keep the plants as compact as possible. Keep the head small, do not over nourish the plants, and let them grow true to the natural form of the rice plant. Usually rice plants three or four feet tall produce luxuriant leaves and give the impression that the plant is going to produce a lot of grain, but it is only the leafy stalks that are growing strongly. Starch production is great but efficiency is low, and so much energy is expended in vegetative growth that not much is left to be stored in the grains.
This is the same tree I mentioned earlier in connection with ladybirds and natural predator protection. The wood is hard, the flowers attract bees, and the leaves are good for fodder. It helps to prevent insect damage in the orchard, acts as a windbreak, and the rhizobium bacteria living within the roots fertilize the soil. This tree was introduced to Japan from Australia some years ago and grows faster than any tree I have ever seen. It sends out a deep root in just a few months and in six or seven years it stands as tall as a telephone pole.
I do not agree with Professor Matsushima's idea that it is best when the fourth leaf from the tip of the plant is the longest. Sometimes when the second or third leaf is the longest, you get the best results. If growth is held back while the plant is young, the top leaf or the second leaf often becomes longest and a large harvest is still obtained. Professor Matsushima's theory is derived from experiments using fragile rice plants grown with fertilizer in a nursery bed and later transplanted. My rice, on the other hand, was grown in accordance with the natural life cycle of the rice plant, just as though it were growing wild.