Bokashi kids: LeFevre Kindergarten in Australia

Here at Le Fevre Kindergarten in South Australia the kids have been putting their leftover sandwiches and bananas into the Bokashi bin for 10 years. And growing their own fruit and veggies in these great raised beds.

I bet there’s many more lovely stories like this around, we’ll try and dig out a few more and share them here.

Any Bokashi preschools out there?

We’re working here in Sweden with a lovely local preschool — it’s owned and run by the employees and they’re really committed to what they’re doing.

One project they’ve started up lately is Bokashi composting. So now there’s no more kitchen waste (and they make all their own food in their own kitchen) and instead there’s potatoes and strawberries growing in the play area. Tomorrow it’s open day at “Eldflugan” as they’re called, “Firefly”, and we’re going to talk to other preschools in the area, parents and families about Bokashi and how it all works.

Bokashi is relatively new in Sweden and Eldflugan is the first preschool in the country to take the concept on board and make it work. Which is really well done given our long cold winters and the fact they needed to store up sacks and sacks of Bokashi in a shed until the snow melted and they could start up the garden.

Now — what they’d love to do is get in touch with another preschool in another part of the world who’s using Bokashi and compare notes. Not just Bokashi composting but the whole eco-aspect of showing kids how sustainability works from the bottom up. Obviously the kids here speak Swedish but the teachers can handle English and German. So if there’s anyone out there with some good ideas please leave us a comment.

It would be great to get the kids in touch with each other and help them feel part of a bigger, more environmentally-friendly world.

Bokashi kids in Gisborne

OK, so I have a soft spot for stories from New Zealand, but the thing is they’re doing a really good job downunder in getting kids involved in Bokashi composting and growing.

Here’s a nice little story from the Scoop news site in NZ talking about how kids at the Te Kainga Whaiora Childrens Health Camp are getting involved in transforming the food waste from the kitchen into soil where they can grow new veggies.

Spot on.

And really encouraging to see everyone getting involved: kids, council staff, and the local community. And by the way, whanau means family in maori. A wide and warm concept.

Bokashi in sunken beds

Here we’re busy building raised beds to get things to grow in this arctic climate (and they are definitely the way to go. Warm, well-drained soil and no digging or weeding required — perfect!)

But in a decidedly warmer and drier part of the world, somewhere in the US, these guys have made a massive sunken bed powered by Bokashi. You can watch the short youtube film they’ve made here. They started with a bobcat and a looonnnggg trench. Then…

We added in a bokashi/sheep manure/ compost mix with the soil from the beds to fill them. Once full, they were tilled to make them smooth and then the drip tape was laid. Then the seeds were planted.

Looks promising.

The EM-A they’re talking about is a cousin of the EM Bokashi bran we use in our kitchen composters and more suitable for large-scale applications like this. The microbes are the same as in the EM bran we use but in an incredibly concentrated fluid form. The guys here in the film have activated the concentrate by adding sugar, water and heat to start a fermentation process and get the microbes multiplying. In some countries you can buy this liquid ready-fermented in which case you dilute it and spray on. Otherwise you can buy the concentrate yourself and ferment for a week in a warm place before diluting and spraying. Not particularly difficult either way, and well worth the effort if you are growing on any sort of scale.

You can spray the activated EM (microbe mix) onto any normal garden bed or field, but the effectiveness depends on the amount of organic material available. Microbes need to be fed! In this application they’ve made a mix with sheep dung and other goodies that in the end is not so different to what we make in our kitchens. In other countries they use whatever is available — cow dung in India, banana leaves in Indonesia, rice husks in Japan, leftovers from wine production in New Zealand.

What natural resources do you have close by that everyone else thinks are waste? Could be the start of your field-scale Bokashi production!!

Bokashi thread with kiwi flavour

Here’s a thread on Bokashi composting that’s worth having a look at if you’re curious on what people out there in the “real world” think. Actually I think many of the postings are from New Zealand –my old homeland 🙂 but also a country that’s become a Bokashi hotspot in recent years.

As you can see it’s not only me who is a bit of a Bokashi fan/nerd/passionista! Go on, add your comments, share your successes and air your doubts. The more of us who talk Bokashi and spread the word the better! Bucket by bucket it’s gradually making the world a better place.

Greenhouse Bokashi — also a hit!

This is the result of another of winter’s Bokashi experiments. Super success and well-worth trying for anyone with a greenhouse. And with a winter season to deal with…

We grow tomatoes in buckets in our greenhouse and at the end of the season there’s a lot of tired soil to get rid of. Plus all the other end-of-season plants and pots to be emptied. Quite boring to be honest, and come spring you have to turn around and bring in a lot of sacks of “new” soil.

But since when should soil be “old” and “new”? It doesn’t get old out there on the field or in the woods, it just gets topped up with new organic matter and the soil microbes keep it alive and thriving.

A greenhouse isn’t a field and the potting mix we buy at the garden centre is hardly thriving with microbial activity (more often than not it’s actually sterilised!).

But by using Bokashi in a new way to “renovate” the soil we can give it another chance. And another. And another. Nature at its best.

Here we’ve used the blue plastic bags they provide at Ikea for bringing home your stuff. Good and sturdy with strong handles. Toss in a tomato bucket, toss in a bucket of kitchen-fermented Bokashi, toss in another bucket of soil or whatever. Probably a good idea to lay a newspaper on top to keep it moist.

That’s it. Line up a few bags like this and when spring comes you’ll have fresh new soil to work with — either for replanting or as top-up soil for the garden. I’m not sure I want to replant tomatoes in the same soil even if its “renovated” but it will be great for filling new planters and top-dressing old one. Snail-free into the bargain (which unfortunately soil from my compost bin isn’t).

The heat from the glasshouse will help start the Bokashi process nice and early in the spring, even if your bags have been frozen clumps all winter. There’s nothing much else you can do with a glasshouse in the winter anyhow, so you might has well have it working for you. It’s a true luxury to open it up now in the spring and have so much brilliant soil ready to use.

Just to dig in and enjoy!

Summer dreams — in a store nearby!

W’ve had a bit of a winter pause on our blog here, sorry about that — we’ve been snowed under on all fronts it seems. But life has returned to this stubborn part of the world and any day now the last scraps of snow will melt and we’re in the green. Relief!

On the Bokashi front things are happenning too. The message is spreading (gradually!) throughout Sweden as it has throughout so many other countries in the world. This is a real grass-roots movement, a message passed from neighbour to colleague to sister-in-law and one of those few real things you can do in a small way in a small life to make a difference.

Like in so many other countries there’s also a huge resurgence in interest in growing your own food. The novelty of home renovation, marble bathrooms and designer kitchens is (maybe? hopefully!) starting to wear off in favour of real things like growing your own food in the backyard.

Only the thing is, we don’t want to do it like our grandfather did. God help us, we don’t have the time. And most of us don’t even know how to do it anymore. And we don’t have a spare field.

I think Bokashi has a role to play in this: it makes life easier. And better. It makes it easy to fix really REALLY good soil so you can grow your own stuff and watch it thrive. There are lots of other new ways of doing things too, like growing veggies in raised plank boxes. No digging, no weeding. Quite a bit of work up front building them but then once it’s done it’s done. Fill them with Bokashi (from your own kitchen and that of your neighbour!) and anything else you can get your hands on and you suddenly have a fantastic little organic garden outside your kitchen window.

This time of year people buy a lot of seeds, we probably all know the feeling of hope when we stand there in the shop with the dream of the summer’s first carrots pulled straight from the soil. But no matter how many seed packets we buy the sad thing is that most of us just end up there in mid-summer with a lot of weeds and some skinny carrots that didn’t turn out anything like the ones on the packet….

Why? Could it be we’re trying to do it the way we remember our grandfather did, but without the patience and love he put into it? Probably without the knowledge either. Definitely without the time.

So it has to get easier, we have to find new ways of achieving that seed-package carrot dream! And good soil is the key to it. Bokashi is a fantastically easy and rational way of getting good soil. And if you combine that with smart raised beds, mulch growing and other new approaches. you can say goodbye to the worst of the back-breaking work your grandfather did. And spend time enjoying your juicy fat carrots instead!