We well and truly have winter here now. No garden in sight, even the fence has gone under.
Christmas has been a start-to-finish snow storm, and today we tried to shovel ourselves out of the house and open up channels to the wood sheds, the outdoor laundry shed, the bokashi workshop. Dig out the car, try and get the road ploughed. But now it’s fixed and it all looks like the ultimate christmas card. Worth it, therefore. (I think. Hard to be really sure when I’m hearing from my friends and family in Australia and NZ busy sunning themselves on the beach).
Been looking out the kitchen window at my planting beds, the ones we built this summer three planks high 5m long. Just now they look more like long soft clouds under all the snow. It’s really hard to imagine there ever being life in them again. Can’t help wondering what the worms are doing in there. They’re quite tough actually, hanging in to the last chomping their way through the Bokashi layer near the top of the beds. Five metre long worm farms…
But now I imagine they’ve gone down under, not the down under where I would like to be right now (beaches, barbeques, summer holidays…) but down under the soil where it’s not frozen. Where I assume they’ll just tick over on low gear till it’s time to greet the spring.
Pretty much the way I feel here too actually. Idling impatiently, fantasising about what seeds to plant as soon as it’s vaguely decent, what herbs to have in the new herb patch and how to go about harvesting and drying them come summer. What joy there will be in kicking around in gumboots again in the garden, digging and planting, fixing and fiddling. By April we’ll well and truly have had enough white.
Pelle is a Swede living in Czechoslovakia. Home for the time being is the farm where he lives with his wife and her family — ducks, geese, hens, fish, sheep and a dam or two. The sheep and hens are happily eating Bokashi these days — that’s right, kitchen scraps that have been fermented in the kitchen in the normal way then instead of being dug down into the soil are served up for supper to the animals.
OK, so maybe it sounds a bit odd. But the animals obviously love it and even though it’s unusual in Europe (so far) this is exactly what’s happennng in many countries around the world. A fantastic use of resources and good old-fashioned common sense.
Bokashi is not at all well-established in Czechoslovakia, in fact Pelle learnt what he needed to know here in Sweden from Kai Vogt Westling at Greenfoot and started up a number of experiments on the family farm once he got there. In addition to feeding the animals with Bokashi he’s also spraying EM (Effective Microorganisms) on their food and the ducks, geese and fish all get some Bokashi bran in their food (it’s a good probiotic). He’s also using EM to treat an overgrown dam and improve the water quality of the stream that runs through to the animals.
Anyhow. The pictures above show how Pelle fixed his buckets. Innovative and practical. Above all cheap. Standard restaurant bucket (try your local pizzeria), holes drilled in the base, sitting on a kitchen bowl that just happened to have the right diameter. The weight of the bucket gives it an airtight fit in the bowl, a normal tray would not be tight fitting enough.
So if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to fix a Bokashi bucket here it is! The Czechoslovakian farm maybe you’ll have to live without, but the idea would work anywhere. Good luck! And thanks Pelle.
Just the word Shangri-La conjures up some long-lost dreams of paradise, but in real life its a hotel chain in Malaysia. Which is working hard with EM and Bokashi to improve its environmental efforts.
Recently the chain’s Tanung Aru hotel resort and spa on Kotakinabalu (yes, I know this is turning into a hide-and-seek geography lesson — Kotabalu is on the top end of the Malaysian part of the island we probably think of as Borneo, I had to look it up too!) invited an environmental school group to see what the hotel is doing on the green front. Which is corporately known as its CSR programme, short for corporate social responsibility.
The students got to learn how the hotel uses EM in its daily operations as well as how they use Bokashi for composting purposes and to make Bokashi balls — a simple and cost-effective way of putting effective microorganisms into waterways to help slow algae buildup and resolve other pollution issues. The students also went home with a few Bokashi bins of their own to further the good work.
Good to see something practical and hands-on coming out of corporate hands, they say it takes a community to raise a child but you could say something similar about looking after our local environment. Wherever we are on the globe.
Councillor Stephen Parnaby, OBE, leader of the council, said: “Food waste is a problem for the East Riding. In the checks we undertook in July on the waste in the green bins, 2.5kg in each bin was food.
“Managing food waste is a challenge facing the whole of the UK, with one bag of shopping in every three being thrown away.”
Do we have any readers out there in Yorkshire? Let us know what’s happening in your local community! Is it making a difference? Are people really getting into it and doing something to get more waste out of their bins and worms into their gardens?
Dr Mah, head of health, local government, consumer, environment, transport and non-Islamic affairs
Now we’re off to Malaysia to check out a Bokashi story in Perak. First stop, admittedly, was the atlas. I’ve travelled through Malaysia a couple of times but can’t say my geography is any better for that. Turns out that it’s on the western side of Malaysia, north of Kuala Lumpur.
Anyhow, as presented in an article in The Star, Perak “has jumped on the green wagon by introducing the use of effective microorganisms (EM) to clean rivers and reduce waste.”
State executive councillor Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon said a task force comprising various government departments and agencies had been set up to further promote the use of EM among the public.
The drainage and irrigation department is apparently already using EM to clean local rivers, and the city council has started using to keep local markets clean. The veterinary services department is also looking into its use in pig farms. And coming up is a campaign to educate the public in using EM and Bokashi.
Now I know where Perak is, I’ll try to keep an eye on future Bokashi news from the area. It’s just great to see it working on a human scale in the public arena. Something we could do more of here in Europe!
Time for a complete change of subject when it comes to Dubai. You won’t read a word here about palm tree islands and financial dreams gone awry. This is Bokashiworld!
So it turns out that in Dubai there’s a couple of commited women starting up a Bokashi business. Changing the way people see their rubbish and doing something good with their foodwaste so it gets back into the soil. You only need to think about it for a couple of seconds to realise that Dubai is one place that must be screaming out for soil improvement. You don’t get that far trying to grow vegetables or have a nice flower garden when you come up with shovelload after shovelload of sand. It’s probably a very nice antidote to the island’s consumerism too.
Janine Sheard and Jo Marengo are the women behind Bokashi in Dubai. They’re enthusiastic and determined to make a difference . But one thing they didn’t mention in the article in Gulf News which Janine mentioned in a mail was their climate battle — not something you’d think about normally. Dubai temperatures of up around 45 degrees C is more than Bokashi can deal with, so the process has to be handled indoors under air conditioning. But I imagine the in-soil process goes incredibly fast and the transformation must be quite wonderful to see. Anyone out there testing this in a hot sandy place like Dubai please let us know how you get on!
I have to admit it all seems quite surreal to me as I sit here freezing in my office surrounded by a snap-frozen frosty landscape and temperatures down around -9 degrees. Dreaming of sun, sand and palm trees…