Hi everyone!

Please introduce yourself
Chuck
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Jan 31, 2021 6:20 am
Has thanked: 30 times
Been thanked: 43 times

Hi everyone!

Post by Chuck »

Hi everyone, Newbie Chuck here.
I am Canadian living in a kominka in the highlands of Hiroshima prefecture for the last 8 years. I now grow grapes and peaches for a living, which is totally different from what I did in Canada. I found this site recently, and think it is a really great forum. Since joining I've been enjoying reading lots of the different post and can relate to a lot of them. Hope to learn from this site and also help others with living in Japan.

User avatar
Zasso Nouka
Tech Support
Tech Support
Posts: 4196
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:37 am
Location: Chiba Prefecture
Has thanked: 3661 times
Been thanked: 3009 times

Hi everyone!

Post by Zasso Nouka »

Hi Chuck and welcome to Japan Simple Life, we really do appreciate you taking the time to sign up.

Growing grapes and peaches sounds interesting. I know hardly anything about fruit farming, apart from several dismal failures trying to grow soft fruit trees here in Chiba :cry:. Is it full time working or more seasonal, I imagine there's plenty of maintenance to do outside of the harvesting season but really know nothing of the work involved so would be interested to hear a little about it if you don't mind sharing.

User avatar
gonbechan
Founder
Founder
Posts: 1930
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:10 am
Has thanked: 2388 times
Been thanked: 1343 times

Hi everyone!

Post by gonbechan »

Hello Chuck, welcome to here.
I am really looking forward to hearing about your life as a fruit farmer and of course a kominka dweller.

All and any fruit or housing pr0n erm I mean pictures, are very welcome.

Chuck
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Jan 31, 2021 6:20 am
Has thanked: 30 times
Been thanked: 43 times

Hi everyone!

Post by Chuck »

Growing grapes and peaches is a full time gig for me. I have 5200m2 of outside grapes and one small 110m2 grape greenhouse, which makes for just over 300vines. Plus 3000m2 of peaches, which around 100 trees. Grapes are all table grapes. When I first started out, I rented a vineyard of wine grapes. My plan my dream is to grow wine grapes again and build a winery in my kura.

Here is a brief break down what I do over a season. In the winter I spread compost/fertilizer and prune. I also fix drainage and waterlines, plus I seem to keep adding new vines, so there is new soil prep work . During my the winter it is just me doing all the work. By mid May I can't manage the workload by myself anymore so my wife joins me and we hire 3 part-time workers for 3 months. Growing season starts out with covering our trellis with plastic to protect our vines from rain. Next, new shoots are thinned out, shoots tied for spacing and air flow. Flowers are cut short, berries are thinned and than bunches are covered in paper bags. Peaches follow a similar process. And there is always a ton of grass to cut.

I should have did more research into what it takes to be a grape grower before I started. :lol: I was surprised how much work it takes. I became a grape grower because I told my wife, if I was going to move to Japan, I wanted to do something new with my life. I really liked the taste of Japanese grapes and told her I want to grow Japanese grapes. We started our vineyard and orchard from scratch. My wife is originally from a big city, so there wasn't much option for growing grapes at her jika. So we found our present town which was at the time looking for new comers that wanted to grow grapes. At first, I did training at big kankonoen, and then after a lot of searching, we found an akiya kominka and some unused farmland. Which is now our home and vineyard/orchard.

Gonbechan, I will try and upload some pictures soon. BTW, what's the best way to upload pictures here?

Zasso Nouka, what kinds of soft fruits did you try to grow? What else do you grow? I recently cut down all my plum trees because I couldn't give them the TLC they needed. Also, have a cherry tree, 2 apple trees, 2 permission trees, and some kiwi trees but are still young and no fruit expect on the permission trees.

User avatar
Zasso Nouka
Tech Support
Tech Support
Posts: 4196
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:37 am
Location: Chiba Prefecture
Has thanked: 3661 times
Been thanked: 3009 times

Hi everyone!

Post by Zasso Nouka »

Wow man that is a great synopsis of what you are doing, I really had no idea what's involved in fruit production. Did you have any experience growing fruit before you moved to Japan or did you learn it all at the Kankonoen you trained at ? I didn't realise there was so much to do but during the winter and spring, I see you cut back to maintain good airflow, I imagine the humidity here can lead to all sorts of fungal problems if things get overgrown. Do you trim the flowers and berries for the same reason or to aid in fruit quality ?

That must have been a truly epic amount of work starting your vineyard and orchard from scratch, did you convert existing farmland or open up totally new land ?

Sounds like you were very lucky to find a town wanting new people and even better yet wanted new folk doing what you were interested in. Not always easy but you know you have a good community to move in to when everyone's interests combine.
Chuck wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 6:16 am
what's the best way to upload pictures here?
Upload your photos to a hosting service like ImgBox (you can make an account for free) and then copy and paste a link using the "Insert Image" icon at the top of the posting box.
Chuck wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 6:16 am
Zasso Nouka, what kinds of soft fruits did you try to grow? What else do you grow? I recently cut down all my plum trees because I couldn't give them the TLC they needed. Also, have a cherry tree, 2 apple trees, 2 permission trees, and some kiwi trees but are still young and no fruit expect on the permission trees.
The list of our failures with fruit is quite long lemon, lime, peach, pear, apple, plum, cherry, raspberry all have either failed due to humidity in summer, been killed by the cold in the winter, savaged by insects or had the trees killed off by カミキリムシ. We eventually came to the conclusion that although Chiba is suited to many types of farming fruit farming alas is not easy to do here without copious amounts of pesticides and fungicides. Now we grow mostly leafy vegetables outside of the summer and things like nasu, tomato, sweet pepper and cucumbers during the summer along with a smattering of root veg like potatoes, carrot and kabu.

Chuck
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Jan 31, 2021 6:20 am
Has thanked: 30 times
Been thanked: 43 times

Hi everyone!

Post by Chuck »

Zasso Nouka,

Up until coming to Japan I knew nothing about growing fruit. I am greatful for my training at the kankonoen and other local growers that have helped me. Trimming and cut out berries is mostly for fruit quality and presentation.

Our land was all abandoned rice paddies. Yes, it took a lot of effort to transform the land into a field for fruit production. Still to this day I'm trying to get better soil and drainage. I will post do before and after pictures.

Sounds like you have tried growing lots of different fruit. Japan is such a hard place to grow anything. I take my hat off to anyone who is farming for a living, especially those doing it organically. At, first I tried not spraying my peaches and grapes and soon found out all currently available grapes are very week against mildew, fungus and diseases. I hate spraying my grapes and peaches and try to keep it to a minimum. I need to start breeding my own resistant varieties because I can't count on the current breeders in Japan fruit breeding because they seem to still have top priority to just taste quality.

I was sad to see raspberries on your list, I planted one plant last year and was hoping to grow more, hopefully will have better luck. I didn't see permission on your list. So maybe this means you are growing them with success or not growing them at all. Our amai kaki seem to grow quite well with no attention so if you're not growing them yet I highly recommend them.

User avatar
Zasso Nouka
Tech Support
Tech Support
Posts: 4196
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:37 am
Location: Chiba Prefecture
Has thanked: 3661 times
Been thanked: 3009 times

Hi everyone!

Post by Zasso Nouka »

You might be able to grow raspberries, I've seen them growing at higher elevations than we are. Try it and see, the main problem we had was after rain the fruit would turn to mush so maybe if you sprayed them and also covered them to keep off the rain you might succeed.

We grow a native wild variety called Momiji Ichigo that produces yellow raspberries, it's main feature is that it fruits in late May so before the humidity ramps up. Fruit are very sweet but it doesn't set a heavy crop every year however it will grow wild so little effort is required to raise them. You can buy cuttings online or if a neighbour has some plants take a cutting from there.

Persimmons also seem to grow here without any problems, our tree is still small but we had a couple of fruit last year that were good, we also grow chestnuts and are now getting quite a decent sized crop for use in the cafe. Yuzu also seem to do well and we have a small mikan tree that produces somewhat sharp mikan every year but they are ok to eat. Our summer orange tree isn't big enough yet to produce fruit but it's surviving and thinking of trying biwa soon as well.

When you have some time I'd be interested to hear what you've done to improve your soil, our's was really poor when we first started and we've slowly been improving it with Biochar, rice husks and lots of well composted cow manure.

Chuck
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Jan 31, 2021 6:20 am
Has thanked: 30 times
Been thanked: 43 times

Hi everyone!

Post by Chuck »

Zasso Nouka, sorry about the late reply.

Our raspberries are called Indian Summer, they produce a crop twice a season, seem to be strong against molds and diseases so far. The kokane mushi also don't seem to like the leaves but I do gotta go and pull off the odd Ke mushi everyone once and awhile. I refused to spray any of my bush or vegetables plants so hopefully they will keep surviving.

Soil improvement sounds like a good new post topic! We have mostly clay soil that I have been adding compost, Baku Tai hi, and Masa tsuchi. I do use a it of rice husks in the garden. Will probably start using rice husks in the orchard this year. Grapes like a slow release of nitrogen, so up until now I use mostly Baku Tai for them and fertilizer.

User avatar
Zasso Nouka
Tech Support
Tech Support
Posts: 4196
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:37 am
Location: Chiba Prefecture
Has thanked: 3661 times
Been thanked: 3009 times

Hi everyone!

Post by Zasso Nouka »

Please don't feel under any pressure to reply immediately, I don't have a stopwatch ticking away waiting for your reply. We're pretty laid back here, just like the countryside, and I myself often read posts and then takes some time to think about an answer.
Chuck wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 10:23 am
Soil improvement sounds like a good new post topic! We have mostly clay soil that I have been adding compost, Baku Tai hi, and Masa tsuchi. I do use a it of rice husks in the garden. Will probably start using rice husks in the orchard this year. Grapes like a slow release of nitrogen, so up until now I use mostly Baku Tai for them and fertilizer.
Could be useful to anyone else looking to improve their soil, feel free to start a topic off and then we can all chip in with what has worked for us.

Chuck
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Jan 31, 2021 6:20 am
Has thanked: 30 times
Been thanked: 43 times

Hi everyone!

Post by Chuck »

Thanks Zasso Nouka, will start a soil/ compost post sometime. Are you a JA member? I am and have been using their free soil tests recently? How you had any of your soils tested before?

Here are some pictures of my peach orchard and vineyard, plus some grape pics. I grow around 15 varieties of grapes. Some new varieties that are really popular. And I think I have about 10 varieties of peaches. My wife keeps ordering new varieties of both grapes and peaches each year, so I'm starting to loose track.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image