What’s the secret to keeping over 50,000 stem and tree peonies healthy without herbicides and pesticides? Learn about sosei, organic farming from Master Seki.

Sosei Farming – Growing Organic Peonies Without Herbicides Or Pesticides

What is sosei farming? It is our way of raising botan and shakuyaku (stem and tree peonies) using NO pesticides. We can farm organically because our garden flowers grow with weeds and other natural plants. Rather than reducing weeds, we use them to help the flowers thrive.

What does a peony’s coexistence with weeds have to do with organic farming? To understand the connection of these you need to understand the purpose of herbicides and pesticides.


Pesticides are the broader category that includes herbicides, insecticides and much more. Their job is to kill any unwanted pests including damaging bugs and fungi, and plants.  While humans used pesticides as early as 2000 BC, most were from natural sources common elements. The first use of synthetic pesticides wasn’t until quite recently the 1940s.


Herbicides kill weeds or unwanted plants. Despite extensive usage in modern agriculture, herbicides— just as other pesticides—were not made public until the 1940s.

Here’s How Peony Garden Tokyo Is Different

Peony Garden Tokyo is a little Eden because we never use herbicides or pesticides.  While most farmers think this is impossible or not worth the effort, Master Seki dedicated his life to understanding the delicate balance organic farming.

#1: No Herbicides

First, instead of using herbicides, we use the power of weeds to grow botan and shakuyaku. We soon realized when we quit using herbicides in 1997 that we do not need to use them. Herbicides are harmful to botan and shakuyaku, so not using them strengthens the health of botan and shakuyaku.

#2: No Pesticides

Second, you may be wondering, how can we control harmful insects from destroying our flowers? Weeds. Some of the most dangerous enemies of pests are weeds. Surprising, but true!

The conventional farming method which depends on herbicide focussed on killing the pests’ worst enemies.  So people often believe that the only way to get rid of pests is to use pesticide, but that isn’t always true.

Amazing soil - Organic Farming With No Pesticides

Peony Garden Tokyo’s coexistence method allows weeds to protect our flowers from pests. Coexistence is the essence of organic farming.

Sosei farming means safe and healthy farming of botan and shakuyaku.

Sometimes there is competition between the peonies and weeds for the limited natural resources like water or minerals. We can manage this fight for water and nutrients by changing the frequency and timing of cutting grass.

Ultimately though, it’s hard to farm organically, and sometimes we fail. The peonies lose in the war for water or nutrients, and the pests attack the flowers. Getting the timing and frequency right for cutting grass requires close observation, in-depth knowledge and years of experience.

Sosei farming is a technique that requires the commitment of the most expert and dedicated of farmers.

Visit us at the garden this season and talk to Master Seki about what it takes to grow your own peony garden without herbicides or pesticides.