Fresh, abundant fruit and vegetables in year round supply are what most residents of the modern mega-cities of Japan have come to expect. People rarely stop to consider exactly how any of the fresh produce got there, let alone giving extra thought to how it is grown during peak Winter seasons.
In reality however, the cold temperatures and conditions in rural Japan in Winter dictate a major difference in how vegetables need to be grown in the off season. While Summer sees various farming techniques that protect crops from persistent heat, insects and high humidity, Winter farming calls for warmth and protection from bitterly cold winds, frost and snow. As such, when the growing days become shorter, farmers all across Japan turn to plastic … And mountains of it!
Frost protection tunnels for lettuce are a common sight in the agricultural areas of Japan in Winter. Preparing and planting the tunnels with seedlings is a labor intensive activity. Specialized machines are used to both mound the soil into raised rows as well as to stretch black plastic over the leveled mounds. This aids heat capture and prevents weed growth as the seedlings develop. The plastic liner is pre-cut with staggered holes positioned abreast for placement of the individual plants. The liner has the edges automatically tucked neatly under the soil to secure it in place.