Chronicles of The Hardships of Komachi in The Sengoku Era Chapter 3
Translator(s): Kenar Editor(s): Boomer Proofreader(s): Matty TLC(s): Lox
Year 1565, during the first ten days of April
Several fields were spread out before my eyes. They weren't to the point that they could be called barren, but it seemed that the crops didn't thrive either.
(Four… or five fields, huh. However, soil maintenance is hard work, and it's impossible to sustain all of them at once. We have no choice but to truncate all but two large fields here.)
There were two areas that were close to the river, and the nutrients for the soil there didn't wash away due to rainfall. The best crops were most likely growing from those areas. That was why we (the village) barely avoided a situation where the meager harvest became a full-fledged famine. As far as I can see, it was roughly 1ha (100 meters per side, equalling about 10,000 square meters in total). It was more than large enough to cultivate sweet potatoes and pumpkins.
(The sweet corn will be placed in the field closest to the river, followed by the tomato; and for the pumpkins, they will be planted in the first field as well. For the last field, we'll plant the sweet potato there, with the sugarcane in the corner. For that reason, we need to dig up the soil.)
" Ahem… We will only use those two fields over there. We won't cultivate anything in the other fields this year." [Shizuko]
"Uh, there won't be enough crops…" [Villager]
"There is no problem. Soil maintenance is quite a demanding task. It is not realistic to do everything at once. More importantly, it's necessary to focus our manpower to secure the useable fields as soon as possible. So first of all, let's start with the soil that needs to be dug up." [Shizuko]
The villagers looked and gossiped with each other, but in the end, the villagers believed that they had no choice but to follow her order, and went to the assigned field while shouldering their farming tools.
( The results will appear, at the soonest, in two months.)
The land was barren, but it wasn't to the extent where it could be called a wasteland. However, the soil was weakened to the point where crops that are strong in many environments, excepting crops like sweet potatoes or pumpkins, wouldn't produce a good harvest. If we were in the modern era, we could buy compost and mulch, and use them for soil maintenance, but unfortunately; there was no choice like that in the Sengoku Era. So, we had to make it ourselves.
(They have rice straw, rice husks, rice bran; and cow manure isn't a problem… I want horse manure if possible… Ah, that's right!)
"Please wait a moment!" [Shizuko]
Shizuko who stumbled on a good idea, shouted to the second, third, and fourth groups, and began to run somewhere else.
Ten minutes later, Shizuko came back while grinning. Though all the group thought it was strange, it was too stupid to throw a retort to, and they let it pass.
"Well then, the third group (Hei) will be in charge of making the compost. Please do your best with this important job!" [Shizuko]
"Compost…?" [Third Group]
Upon hearing an unfamiliar word, the third group inquired with strange faces.
"In short, this is like a fertilizer that comes from completely decomposed organic matter by microorganisms. There was a time when this was treated as the same as organic fertilizers, but they are completely different" [Shizuko]
"Instead of going to such lengths, why don't we just scatter the dung directly?" [Villagers]
"No, no. When the dung is in a state of fermentation, it produces gas. That's a hindrance to the growth of the roots, and in turn, it also attracts pests. Hasn't there been a time when the roots would rot and the pests were springing up excessively?" [Shizuko]
"That is… well…" [Villagers]
"Compost is created from completely decomposed organic matter; hence, gas and pests won't spring up. The supply of humus (a part of the soil) and the condition of the soil will improve, due to the supplies in the microorganisms. The pests will also be suppressed, and the soil will be more stable because of the increase in buffer capacity. To achieve that, making compost is a must. It takes at least half a year to properly make it, but even so, it is still necessary and there is a need to do it." [Shizuko]
Explaining up to that point, Shizuko noticed that the villager's faces were like a wrinkled rag. (As expected, that explanation was too hard, huh.) Shizuko finally realized too late, that she had failed in her explanation.
(Ah, knowledge of microorganisms, pets, and other such things are rather dubious. It's unknown if that knowledge is in this era or not. However, if there is no compost, it will influence next year's harvest yield… Somehow or other; I need to push the fact that compost needs to be made!)
"Somehow, I don't understand it, but; it seems that using our usual methods won't work… I'll follow your opinion." [Villager]
When I tried to explain to them by words, the villagers were unexpectedly persuaded by it. No, I don't think that they fully understood it, but because they decided to try it; I decided not to think about it too deeply. The proof for this was, they seemed that they didn't understand the necessity of compost. Their reaction had more of the feeling of "Since I was told that I needed it."
(Well, that is fine.)
The explanation for the second and fourth groups (Otsu and Chou) was easy. At any rate, their task was just to collect wood. Of course, it wouldn't end with only collecting wood. Rather, their real job would come after that.
(Shovel and garden forks, without these things, then making compost will be extremely hard. After that, we have to make oblique fences to counteract wild boars, right~)
Wild boars were not really good at three- dimensional obstacles, and they can't pass through oblique fences. Since we were only worried about wild boards, it's possible to protect the fields by creating a wire mesh topped with spikes as a fence. We need to make it from wood since there's no metal here, but it's better than nothing.
(Everyday this month will be hard work… uh… I want to take a bath).
In this Sengoku period, it was impossible for commoners to enjoy a luxury like a bath, and they had to wipe the body down with water.
(It seems that this is a typical location for natural hot springs to appear… next time I'll try exploring that idea.)
Even though we can't afford to burn firewood and prepare hot water everyday, if there is a hot spring; we can get away with just pulling hot water out. If we can find one, then that's good. But if we can't find one, it's alright since we can understand the surrounding environment. After convincing herself like this, Shizuko also started working on her own tasks.
It has now been four days since Shizuko came to the village, the only things that were being done was making compost, mulch, and soil maintenance. At first, she thought that she didn't need mulch, but because they gathered so many fallen leaves unexpectedly, she decided to hurriedly make it. Making mulch was an easy task, you just put the leaves in a bucket and covered it with a suitably large stone. After that, you had to stir it once a day.
Although the shovel and the garden fork didn't have a beautiful shape like they did in the modern era, their function as a tool was satisfactory. The efficiency of making compost and the soil maintenance increased, and because of that, we finished it just a little earlier than we planned.
(The seedlings have grown quite well. I think that before long, we should plant in the edge of the field.)
The small seedlings were growing to the extent that it looked like they could jump out of the bucket these days. For the sake of mass production, we should not skip the preparation of the seedlings.
(There are still various things that could be done if we were in the modern period, but… Unfortunately, this is the Sengoku Period. You have no choice but to cut several processes, right~)
"Well then, it's time to transfer the seedlings which we planted in the wooden bucket to the field." [Shizuko]
"Eeeh! Hey, we just dug up the soil!" [Villagers]
"That's no problem. Because these crops have strong vitality, they can grown even in cracked land.
Sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and tomatoes could even grow in barren lands. Because they didn't need delicate treatment, they played an active role in the past when famines hit. The Sweet Potatoes in particular had high nutrition, it was a kind of wonder food that could improve the situation.
"Well, if the village chief (Shizuko) says so…" [Villagers]
"Then, please bring a wooden bucket full of water to me." [Shizuko]
While she asked them to bring a wooden bucket with water, Shizuko went to the field with a wooden shovel in hand. As was expected, the maintenance situation wasn't stellar in these four days, nearly half of the land was still untouched. However, the main goal at the moment is to increase the number of seedlings we have, so it's not a problem.
Is it good here…" [Shizuko]
While putting a mark on a corner of the field, Shizuko dug up the soil. By the way it appeared, the soil was barren due to the topsoil being washed away by the rain. If however, we dig it up until we reach the place where the soil wasn't washed away, and mixed that with topsoil, it was enough for growing crops.
"Okay, like this is fine. And the next step is…" [Shizuko]
After she finished digging, Shizuko started to dig furrows. The truth was, you were supposed to furrow the ground about a week before planting crops, but there was no leeway timewise.
"Village mayor, we brought it… eh, what are you doing?" [Villagers]
"This? I'm making ridges you know." [Shizuko]
Shizuko replied while pointed at the ridge that was 30cm to 40cm in height. The villagers didn't really understand what was going on as usual, and they pulled a strange face at the sight of the piled up soil. But since we slept and ate together for four days, they would figure out what they needed to do immediately. In other words, "Since I don't really get it, let's stop thinking about it."
"Eh, are we just making that today?" [Villagers]
"Two rows are fine for today. For now, best regards~. Ah, you can put the bucket down around there." [Shizuko]
The soil maintenance team put the bucket on the ground, and they began to plow with the farm tools they brought with their other hand. They made the ridges by looking at my example, but since they weren't used to it, the shape was distorted.
"Well then, the seedling are… growing well. Four… no, there are five seedlings." [Shizuko]
Because of the good weather, the potato seedlings were growing nicely. Originally, it has enough vitality to grow after a week in the shade.
"First of all, take it out of the bucket first… then plant it in the hole we opened up beforehand… there." [Shizuko]
After taking out the seedling from the bucket of soil, we buried it in the hole prepared earlier. After filling in the hole with the remaining soil from the bucket, we watered the seedling with water from the second bucket. It wasn't good if the water was too much, therefore, the stream of water was somewhat weak.
"Now, planting the next seedling"
After planting the first seedling, cut off the extended part of the seedling to make a new one. After immersing the freshly cut area in water, we plant this second seedling in a similar hole to the first. Because the seedlings aren't very tall, we planted them on a slope and made small indents to store any excess water.
"With this, it's over. After this, we will make ridges in preparation for next week, however… I think we finished almost everything we needed to for the moment." [Shizuko]
While watching the villagers make ridges a bit further from her, Shizuko washed her hands with the water in the wooden bucket.
It was decided that sweet potatoes would be the main crop, and Shizuko planned to mass-produce the seedlings until she reached the limit of what the soil could produce as crop. In return, the tomatoes, pumpkins, sweet corn, and sugarcane would have to be postponed. Ridge making would start late April, planting would start at the beginning of May, and the resulting harvest would be plenty enough.
(In this era, they relied heavily on imports for sugar. If it can be mass produced here, I believe it will become a considerable strength.)
However, there are not many sugarcane seedlings. Even if we were to plant them this year, they are likely to turn into new seedlings (rather than mature into the adult crop). Meaning that, the earliest we can start harvesting them will be in two years.
(Because I don't know how to go home, I need to think about how I can live here…)
Since I came to the Sengoku Period by walking down the road, perhaps I can return by walking down the road again. I ended up taking a walk after thinking about it, but there is no sign that I will come back to the modern era. In the end, I gave up. I have no choice but to live through this for the time being, and I need to prepare for the worst. It's also called a "practical" attitude.
(Sweet potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins, sweet corn, and sugar canes. All of them (that I have) are the result of selective breeding in the modern ear. Therefore, they have strong vitality and there are many edible parts that can be eaten; it's to the point that they can't be fairly compared with their predecessor crop from this time period. With this, Nobunaga has no choice but to become interested in these… well, the result will show around October.)
I thought about digging up a small portion of the crops, and bringing them to him; but he wouldn't meet with me if I only did that. Instead, it would be more impactful to show him a mountain of sweet potatoes.
"Well then, how many sweet potatoes can we produce~?" [Shizuko]
Increasing the amount of seedlings every week until the end of June. It really is only that much, but because of this period, there are no machines; and all of the work is done manually.
(Since there is a river, it may be necessary to one day make a small waterwheel. Well, above all else….) "I miss bathing already…" [Shizuko]
While thinking of a steaming bath, Shizuko walked toward the village carrying a wooden bucket.