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Converting typhoon damaged hillside forest to blueberry plantation

7 years ago
last modified: 7 years ago

Hello all

We've recently obtained a small strip of land in a hilly mountainous area here in Japan.

We are in Okayama ken, which I believe corresponds to a zone eight. The winters in this area rarely drop below maybe -10 C, more normally hovering around freezing. Summer start out very wet in June and stay almost tropical hot all summer till September.

This area grows a lot of fruits and vegetables, peaches and grapes from here are well known, although I believe they require a lot of special care to bring to maturity. Last year we visited a blueberry plantation about an hour or so drive away from here in similar conditions. The quality of the fruit was very impressive, and according to the staff member we talked to it's very easy care, they do almost nothing to the bushes.

So about the land. A large typhoon moved through here 10 years ago and knocked down all of the large trees in the area. This strip of land had all the wood left on it which now appears to be mostly rotted into the ground. About eight years ago a bunch of softwood trees were planted there as part of a recovery program. The ground was let go after that it's kind of a mix of brush and small trees now. It would be a lot of work, but it's possible to cut it all down with a steel weedeater.

Would it be possible to cut and remove the trees and brush, and plant blueberry bushes in and around the stumps? I'm just learning a bit about growing blueberries now, and the ground appears to be very nice for it. It's rich and lomey full of decomposing wood, and very well drained as it's on a slope. At least part of the area is on a south facing slope that gets full sun all day. I'm wondering if all the 10 year old decomposing wood would be making the soil acidic enough that mild or no ph adjustment would be required. My main concern was if the cut trees would give us any problems later. We Talked to a neighboring farmer who grows a variety of vegetables and fruits, including some very large kiwi vines. He felt the area was very good for growing just about anything, although he mentioned bringing in heavy equipment to have all the stumps and plants removed and terrace the soil at about $3000 or so. We are not interested in investing that much money, especially given how small the property is and that this is just for our personal use.

So, I guess the most pressing question is if it's total folly to try and plant fruit trees or bushes on land that doesn't have all of the stumps pulled up of all the vegetation that was there. Or if it's possible with some work just to level the ground as best you can and plant/grow over and around them, keeping up on weeding as best as you can.

For example, I can't imagine anything being able to grow under the neighbors kiwis. they're huge, block out all of the sun, being held up with a construction grade trellis.

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