The potager & location

First, the location…
Our potager is situated at a rustic hamlet (population: about 6500) called Aji, which is in Takamatsu cityKagawa Prefecture, Shikoku Island, Japan. Fisheries and agriculture are the mainstays of this charming hamlet, but Aji’s claim to fame is her stone masons. The stones, locally mined from Gokenzan (Five Sword Hill) are sought after for their durability and shine, in addition to their two tone shades of light grey and black. Well suited for gravestones especially, a sculpted merchandise from these granite easily cost more than what I paid for my Honda CRV. Plus, I have heard that there is a six-month wait after ordering. (Nowadays however, the masons are importing the granite from China). Aji is also known for being located at the northernmost point in the island of Shikoku. There is also a charming little temple clinging to the steep cliffs by the sea. A couple of years back, Aji was the location for a hit movie called Socrates in Love or ‘Sekai no chushin de ai wo sakebu’ (Crying Out Love, In the Center of the World).

Source: Shikoku MITI

On Shikoku…

Shikoku is the smallest and apparently the least populated among the four major islands of Japan. While she is home to the famed 88-temples she is also perhaps the least visited area of Japan, which is good for me. Shikoku has four prefectures: Ehime, Kagawa, Kochi and Tokushima. According to Wikipedia statistics, Shikoku ranks 50th in terms of size among the islands of the world. Within the Japanese archipelago, Shikoku is located at the southwestern corner, at a latitude of 34°N. This latitude roughly coincides with those of Los Angeles and Atlanta in the U.S., Xi’an in China, and the Mediterranean Sea in Europe. Equivalently down south, we have Santiago in Chile, Cape Town in South Africa, and Sydney in Australia. Kagawa Prefecture faces the Seto Inland Sea and is, by and large, protected by the Shikoku Mountain range from typhoons raging in from the south. Consequently, low precipitation results as we lie on the leeward side of the typhoon winds.
Source: Shikoku MITI

Climate-wise…

We have a mild climate, somewhat Mediterranean-like, but I’d add, bordering on the humid and subtropical. Data accumulated by Japan Meteorological Agency stretching from 1971 to 2000 shows an average temperature of about 15.8°C, very comfortable by most standards. The lowest temperature in the winter is about minus 5 degrees. This appears to put our location into USDA Zone 9 (or 10?) of the hardiness scale. We get an average annual precipitation of about 1123.6 (among the lowest in Japan), and about 2076.8 sunshine hours (incidentally, among the highest in Japan). Under such climatic conditions, the more reason to mulch the beds… Rains normally come in the summer (we have a so-called rainy season (baiu or tsuyu… plum rains) which usually comes by at around June) with the occasional typhoon or two bringing in precious rainfall in autumn.
How the potager is arranged…
(Update: for a more concrete explanation on the arrangement and crop rotation see here…)
Our potager is divided into the eastern and western halves, split by a wide walk path in between. Each half has two parts, the north part and the south part. Each part is further divided into six plots, each of which is about two meters by one meter in size. All plots have ample walkways between them. To facilitate mulching and to prevent weeds from encroaching, I surround the beds with 40 centimeter-high walls constructed from recycled wood. Through such a design, I am able to practice what I call ‘double crop-rotation’. That is, we have an ‘internal’ rotation within the four plots, and at the same time, an ‘external’ rotation of crops that go around the plots. In rotating, I group the crops by their families and friends (after Sally Jean Cunningham’s ‘Great Garden Companions’… I think she has written such a fine book…).

See also the beginnings, and Lot 57, when purchased

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4 Responses to The potager & location

  1. mac says:

    Thank you for the tour, what a peaceful and beautiful place you have there.

  2. Kathy Sturr says:

    I grow vegetables in my Potager in upstate NY along the St. Lawrence River. I heard about your blog from Robbie at Palm Rae. I look forward to learning how you grow your vegetables in your part of the world!

    • Lrong says:

      Hi Kathy… a very good evening from Japan… thank you very much for dropping by my blog… it is my pleasure to link up with a fellow gardener from a faraway land… I shall be visiting your blog soon… 🙂

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