Got a great mail the other day from Vin in Florida, “a Florida backyard gardener who loves feeding her garden soil”.
She included a bunch of pictures showing the Bokashi experiment she’s been running the last few months. (Can’t help but envy all that green while we’ve just been looking out at nothing but white for months!)
The really fun thing with this experiment (apart from the healthy worms and plants of course) is the simplicity of it all. Why make it complicated when you can make it easy? Way to go, Vin!!
My Bokashi Experiment began in Oct 2012.
Pics here taken Nov 8/12:￼
This bucket is buried in a bed created by a concrete retaining wall.& I combine kitchen waste & garden leaf clippings in layers. Each time I put in kitchen waste (including paper napkins) I sprinkle bokashi bran. I call this my Garden Bucket. I use a potato masher as my push down tool.
Notice (in the pic) above the bucket is a tomato plant and on the left bottom is a small onion shoot.
On March 1, 2013:
￼This the same bucket in the earlier pic of Nov 8th. I have not emptied it since starting as the level goes down very fast & of course no need to drain, etc. The plants around seem happy – tomato has borne nice big fruits (1 on lower stem right next to the bucket) and the onion has grown tremendously (I cut onion greens often to use in salads & soups). Even the marigold, which I use as pest deterrent, seems to like the “food” here.
So, since I have found this concept working for me, I have put more ‘bokashi buckets’ in my backyard. This is on a bed I am re-doing, incorporating some wood branches like hagelkultur, which will be for a combination of tomatoes, beans and vines… maybe squash.
4” of topsoil & composted manure will be put over the branches but leaving the bin top accessible, so I can continue to add kitchen waste.
I’ve also put 1 in a ground-patch, between 2 path pavers.
Plants around have survived the Florida winter and seem healthy. There is also a 10” papaya seedling about 4ft away from this path & I’m hoping (if it survives & grow to late spring) the roots will reach close enough to get some nutrient from this bucket.
￼I’ve prepared a “spare” bin in another bed & I have put some earthworms around it. When this weekend’s chill front is over (hopefully the last 1 for 2013) I may plant some peppers and jicama around it.
Just had a query from someone in our facebook group looking for a blog I did ages ago about our “soil factory”. I couldn’t find it either (how do you just lose a blog entry??!!) so I posted up a few pictures in the facebook group with a quick description. For the sake of posterity here are the pics:
Just like any other raised bed, but reserved only for producing soil! Saves you thinking about where to dig down your next Bokashi bucket, just keep digging them down here and fill the wheelbarrow with good healthy soil when you need it. Add whatever else you have at hand, wood chips, straw, harvest leftovers. Not weeds! I generally cover mine with a big black tarp to keep seeds blowing in and preserve moisture. Breathes enough and helps warm the soil. You can do this in any shape or size, it doesn’t have to be this big!
btw we found out it’s easier to build these big boxes on a flat surface (driveway?) upside down then tip them right side up and carry them into place. It’s really hard to get them straight and nice if you build them on site.
Healthier plants, bigger yields and all by harnessing natural bacteria. That’s the claim, but will it work? Andrew Seall intends to find out in this new series.
It is a tad cold on my allotment at the moment, and probably is on yours as well, but at least I can comfort myself in the knowledge that many summer pests are being killed off. I am up here to start to plan where to feed my soil with EM without promoting too many pests and weeds along the way.
‘EM…what’s that?’ I hear you say. It stands for effective micro- organisms and is used all over the rest of the world, with claims of great beneficial effects upon plants and vegetable growth and cropping. All over the world, that is, except in the UK, and so this treatment of the soil with EM – and the results – are what I am going to be writing about for the next 12 months. Let’s just see if it can give us the excellent results seen elsewhere.
– Kitchen Garden, February 2005
I’ve now collected the entire series of articles together and made them into PDFs, just to click on the links and read on. 11 articles in total, I felt they were pretty honest and straightforward and very interesting to read. The series is from 2005 and I’m not sure what follow up has been done in the magazine, I plan to dig a bit more and see what I can find.
Regardless, it’s inspiring to read the series, especially as I sit here in minus whatever temperatures and look out at snow and ice and wonder if it will ever be green again. The good news is that it’s soon time to start planting seeds again in preparation for the spring and as soon as you start seeing those little green shoots coming up it feels like, just maybe, there is a chance of meeting spring around the corner. If they can do it so can I!!
Anyhow, enjoy the articles! If you find anything similar let us know and we can post it here.
Just posted this on our facebook page but thought it was so inspiring I should post it here as well. A church in Harlem has taken their precious inner city land and made a farm out of it. They’re feeding their parishioners with healthy, home grown food from their new veggie patch. Just watch the film here, it’s done with love and compassion. Now this is what a church can really add to the world!
Because their land is polluted and hardly farming land (surprise!) they’ve built raised beds to grow their veggie beds. Probably the way to go regardless of what you have under your feet, it’s a much easier work height, lot less weeding, drains well and warms up easily. And looks beautiful.
They haven’t made a lot of fuss about it in the article but they are using Bokashi in the garden. Makes perfect sense really. I have no idea where they’re sourcing their food waste but the possibilities are endless when the whole project is part of a community-based program.
A lot of people are working on many fronts to start up urban growing projects, often on abandoned lots or in community parks. I’ve never seen a churchyard used in this way before and it’s obviously the perfect hand-in-hand solution. Hope we get to see a lot more of it!!
Remember the tests we were starting up a few weeks back with bricklayers buckets? Sturdy black plastic tubs — seemed like they’d be perfect for container gardening. Well — they are just brilliant!
Under all the flowers above is a 65 liter tub, filled with a good strong bokashi mix. I planted some rather half-hearted dahlias in it a couple of months back and pushed in a few seeds of this and that for good effect. That’s it. Admittedly it has rained rather a lot this summer but I give the Bokashi and the warm black container full credit for the show. Next year I’m planning to do more of these!
My idea come autumn is to empty the tubs into my garden beds (around the perennials where it’s hopeless to dig down any Bokashi) and stack them in the woodshed. During the winter I thought I could prepare them gradually by tipping in a bucket of Bokashi from the kitchen now and then and covering with half a sack of potting mix. Come spring they should be ready to plant and I will have got rid of a lot of winter bokashi.
Next pic was a bit of an experiment. I was a bit short on potting mix the day I came to plant out these flowers, early June I think it was. So I just dug up a wheelbarrow or two of soil from my “soil factory” (in reality a big timber raised bed with a tarp over). I have no idea of what the mix was but it would have been extremely strong as we’ve dug in countless buckets of Bokashi in the soil factory and it’s always just packed with worms. The base soil in is some poor clayish top soil we had left over from some building project.
Anyhow the result surprised me. I thought that these plants might either die from a total overkill on the nutrition front or they would just produce a lot of green leaves and skip the flowers.
On the contrary! I haven’t touched them since and apart from a lot of rain all summer they’ve just quietly done their thing. Admittedly they are a bit over the top but still — I kind of like them this way.
So now I know what to do next year!
Just came across this picture when I was looking for something else and thought I’d share it. A typical Swedish cottage in a typical Swedish allotment garden! In a typical Swedish summer. And even though it’s hard to believe things will ever be green again for at least half of the year here, when it does come it suddenly seems all worthwhile.
Midsummer is coming up in three weeks or so and that’s about when spring starts to feel more like summer. Just now the ditches are full of wildflowers and lupins are starting to sprout pink and blue everywhere. The grass grows as you watch it (good or bad depending on how much grass you have to cut.) And the fresh new deer are in seventh heaven jumping around all over the fresh new fields.
Kind of nice. Makes you feel privileged.
Did a big clean out in the greenhouse in the weekend and cleared out everything. Felt so wonderful to get rid of all the bits and pieces and do a restart. I’ve been growing tomatoes and cucumbers in big black buckets for years (the greenhouse itself has no soil) and that’s always been ok but it felt like time for a new approach.
So. Now it’s like this. I brought home 10 big bricklayers tubs from the local hardware store and lined them up in the greenhouse. Four on one side, six on the other (side-by-side rather than end-to-end). Then the fun started…
The tubs are 90 liters each (there are small ones available here too, 65 liters). Cost was some 13 euro each for the big, 8-9 for the small. And they’re really sturdy and nice! 900 liters in total to fill…
First up I put in a layer of drainage, the small clay balls that are called lecakulor in Swedish. Some 5 to 10 cm worth. So far I haven’t drilled any drainage holes, I’m thinking of not having any and using the drainage layer as a water reservoir if I’m careful and don’t overwater. But if I do go for holes I’ll drill them on the sides, at the same height as the drainage material. In a perfect world that means none of the valuable nutrients would be lost.
Next step was a layer of soil, just the cheap potting mix you buy at the supermarket this time of year. I thought a bit about putting a felt layer between the drainage and the soil but decided not to, if the roots want to make their way down into the reservoir it’s all theirs!
Then came the Bokashi! Some 20-30 liters ready fermented food waste from the kitchen. I happened to have a lot of biobags on hand so I used those, but obviously you take whatever you’ve got. But I did hack them open and spread out the goo reasonably evenly.
Then I added a couple of buckets of “real soil” from my soil factory in the garden, normal topsoil drenched in nutrients from last summer’s Bokashi. And the most ridiculous amount of worms! If they like it in their new home it’ll be just great to have them in on the operation.
Then topped up the tubs with more “sack soil”, the cheapest of potting mixes. I cut up the bags and tucked one over each tub to prevent evaporation until it’s time to plant. But now I’m even thinking I might plant my tomatoes and cucumbers in a hole in the plastic to reduce watering. What do you think?
Needless to say I deserved a beer at the end of all this! Just now the whole project looks like a workplace but I’m really excited about it. In my mind it’s already green and luscious with endless perfect tomatoes and cucumbers, maybe even kiwifruit, passionfruit or even a whole vineyard… Anyhow, I think it will be great and I’m dead curious to see how it works out.
One of the big benefits (I think) will be that come autumn I can dig down a new batch of Bokashi in all the tubs and renovate the soil ready for the spring. Maybe replace some of it if needed. It would be such a luxury to come out to the greenhouse in the spring and just wash it down and plant — having let the microbes and worms do all the hard stuff in the meanwhile.
Dreams are free! But I’ll let you know how the tomatoes work out!
…and in the old tomato buckets I’ve planted potatoes, all going well we’ll get a nice early batch in time for midsummer (and anyone who’s been to Sweden will know how important that is!). Fingers crossed.