After nearly 20 years in big Tokyo I was feeling burned out in my not-so-successful "career" in the service industry, knocking on several after a chance discovery of cheap old farmhouses we set out towards the countryside - but still close enough for my wife to further pursue her working live, commuting by Shinkansen while I would take care of the house and kids and build my own little cafe at home...
Our first bump came when we realized that the bank wasn't willing to give a loan for an old rundown house on some worthless property in the "Hinterland". So, we changed plans and will be building a new house. We already bought the plot last year, with about 400 square meters size, and I have started the vegetable garden beforehand, next project will be the garden house.

14 April, 2011

It has finally getting warm up here, took me really by surprise, because last year the last snowfall was on April 17th, about 25 cm.
So I have started my garden shed, measuring the position with the help of a small border marker that conveniently sits close by, and than getting rid of the weeds that have inhabited this ground for more than a decade like a blanket. They even had a turf agreement: below the trees is the grassy territory, the rest belonged to the fast behind-your-back growing weeds. Only the bamboo didn't keep to this agreement and has built a hard to penetrate network of roots below the surface, but luckily only in the area below the to-be-built house and the front garden

I than started to pull some strings into a nice and square rectangle the size of the shed to determine where to place the 6 concrete blocks that would function as foundation. Remembering the 3-4-5 rule from my days at construction I did manage to get the angles mostly right - but on my next visit, the string had actually fallen victim to rain (or the neighbors cat?)...leaving me only with a few sticks at the corners
The blocks on their way from the car to their destined place
Pouring concrete right into holes would have made everything easier - and cheaper, for sure. But because our house isn't built even on paper there is a slight chance I have to move the shed to get enough parking space between it and the house, and for that case I prefer this approach.
View of the back side with veggie & berry garden. At the far end is the only tree left, an old mulberry tree. It was in very bad shape, all twisted, I cut off about half of the bigger branches last autumn, during which time the weed decided to grow by about 2 meters in 2 weeks. But this year I have a head start which leaves me a slight hope to keep it down. On the left side I have started to loosen the soil, unearthing bucket loads of small sized stones, which isn't surprising at all, because we live on the south side of one, mostly, quiet volcano. The smaller ones all go below the shed, and the bigger ones will make good garden borders. Beside that there are lots of root pieces from trees long gone, making it a very commanding job, but for now I can tell myself that once all these stones are out they will not grow again like weeds, or come back again like slugs. But I am afraid that after maybe two years of doing this there won't be much difference, in size they might shrink, but in numbers, I think the volcano rock beneath will just push up again into the loosened earth above with more ease and I will pick out stones for years after years until I can hand over this job to my children.

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