Thursday, June 25, 2009

Burrying Food Waste, etc.

Okay, you've fermented your food waste with EM1 bokashi in a food waste bucket. It's been fermenting about two weeks. There is a sweet/sour smell and lots of white mold growing on top of the food wastes. Now what do you do with it?

Dig a hole
pick a spot in your garden that needs some amending. A good place is in between some plants that have been there for a long time. Somewhere where the soil is getting hard or that you have not fertilized in a long time.

Start digging. A trench may be better than digging a hole deep enough to hold all the contents of the bucket. Expect to dig a foot or so deep and a couple feet long.

Dump out the bucket
Pour the contents of the bucket into the hole. Spread it out evenly.
If there is a foul odor at this point you can add some more bokashi or spray it down with Activated EM1 using a hose end sprayer or watering can.

Cover the food waste
Use the soil you dug up to cover the food waste. There should be 8-12 inches of soil to cover the food waste. Use as much soil as you can so the smell of the food waste doesn't attract any animals (wild or pets). Dogs love to dig up the food waste and eat it! It tastes yummy to them!

Out where I am in Tucson, javelina are known to come out and dig up the food waste if its not covered up enough. I have also heard from people in Texas that wild pigs or armadillos do the same thing. Some of them have covered the food waste with check wire to make it more difficult or the animals to dig up the wastes.

When can you plant in the spot?
If you covered the food waste with about 12 inches of soil, you can plant in the area immediately...assuming you are planting small translplants (plugs or up to 4oz pots) or seeds. If you plant potted plants in the soil, keep an eye on them. When the roots hit the broken down food waste you'll notice a growth spurt in the plants. It is cool to see plants shoot up. The food waste is loaded with nutrients for your plants.

Where else can I use the fermented food waste?
I am adding to my garden around the year, even when the veggies are growing I dig right around them and add food waste to the ground. Since soil is so important to plants, I always figure amending throughout the year is best. Note: You can't do this with raw food waste because it will start to breakdown....but rot. The rotting process will create gasses in the soil that are toxic to plants and kill the plants if their roots come in contact with the gasses. This is why it is not encouraged to bury raw food waste in the soil.

If you have a compost pile, you can add the fermented food waste right in the pile. Use the same rule of thumb for the amount of material to cover the food waste with...about 12 inches.

Experiment with what works best for you and your gardening routine.

If curiosity gets the best of you, wait about two weeks and dig in the area that you buried the fermented food waste to see if everything has broken down. If you're in a wet climate it should be almost completely broken down. If you're in an arid climate like the Southwest, be sure to water around the area to encourage a good environment for the microbes and worms to enter the area.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Troubleshooting Bokashi

From time to time a batch of food waste will get pretty stinky, even when you're using EM1 Bokashi. Luckily, there are only a few reasons why this will happen and it is pretty easy to fix.
  • Issue: The bucket is starting to smell bad.
  • Cause: Too much liquid was added to the mix and the waste has putrefied instead of fermented.
  • Solution: If you add liquid to the bucket, be sure to drain it in a few hours or by the next day. If it starts to get an "off" smell, add more bokashi to soak up some of the extra liquid. If that doesn' do the trick, you can add a handful of table sugar and stir in. In about 24 hours, it should be back to smelling good.
  • Issue: From time to time we do hear people say that the lid is difficult to get off the bucket. This is especially a problem when not using the bokashi buckets we sell which have a soft plastic lid that comes off easily.
  • Cause: The lid wasn't kept on tight.
  • Solution: There are a couple ways to fix this: 1) You can line the bucket with a plastic bag and fold down the top of the bag to make it airtight. 2) If you're using a round bucket, go to a paint store. They sell these lids for 3 and 5-gallon buckets for protecting paint. They are made of a thin plastic that fit tightly around the bucket and only cost a couple dollars. 3) While filling the bucket, you can put smooth the surface of the food waste (after adding the EM1 Bokashi) and cover it with some newspaper and then put on the lid.
  • Issue: The bucket is starting to smell bad and a green or black mold is growing in it.
  • Cause: Too much liquid was added to the mix and the waste has putrefied instead of fermented or the lid wasn't kept on tightly.
  • Solution: Be sure to keep the lid on tight. Be sure to drain the liquid daily. Add a handful of sugar and wait 24 hours and check that the odor has gone.
  • Issue: There is no liquid coming out of the bucket.
  • Cause: There is little liquid being added to the bucket.
  • Solution: If the bucket smells good, there is no need for alarm. Either you are using lots of Bokashi or dry materials. Typically people on high starch and high protein diets have food waste that has little liquids in them and produce very little liquid in the buckets. People who have a diet high in fruits and vegetables are adding food waste with lots of liquids and will get much more "juice" out of the bucket.
What issues do you have with you bokashi system? What solutions have you come up with? Please share.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Experimenting with EM FPE, Fermented Plant Extract

Traditionally, all the EM® applications seem to have focused on agricultural applications. Since I have a background as a chef I am more often than not looking for new recipes or ingredients to experiment with.

Once I learned that EM® is all about fermentation, the world got a bit bigger to me. I should note here that I am also the type of person who is never really exact about measuring things and should let anyone reading this know that it is generally pretty difficult to mess up with EM and always tell people to relax and not worry about doing something wrong. For instance, it's not like the bokashi you make is not going to work if you put in 3/4 C of EM-1® and 1/2 molasses or thereabouts. Likewise, if you use 1/2 cup EM-1® and 1/2 cup molasses to make a gallon of Activated EM-1®, it is going to ferment. So, don't worry so much about getting all the measurements exact.

Now, back to the fermented plant extracts....

If we look back at foods, think of all the extracts (mostly herbal) on the market. Most, if not all, are made from steeping the herbs in a strong solution of alchohol. The alcohol pulls the properties out of the herb into the liquid. The liquid is them sold for a high dollar. Likewise, there are other methods using vinegar. Well, you can do something very similar using the regular Activated EM1 formula of 1:1:20 and adding in fresh herbs to the container before fermentation begins.

To ensure the extraction process work well, let the material ferment for around 4 weeks. If you check the brew periodically (give it a good whiff), you'll notice the smell of the herb will intensify over time and eventually almost overtake the smell of the EM-1®. A good first batch to try is with garlic. Try this:

To make one gallon Garlic Extract:
1/2 Cup EM-1®
1/2 Cup Molasses
2 cloves garlic (diced or thinly sliced)
Fill container with very warm water (bath temperature)
Close container to keep it airtight. Release pressure in container during fermentation.

This is great to spray on plants at a rate of 1 to 2 ounces per gallon of water. Look at some garlic products on the market and look at what they are used for. You just made one gallon of something for less than $5 that would normally cost you several times that.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Making EM Beer

I've been a homebrewer since I got into EM back in the mid 90's. After I met with the people who made EM1 in Tucson and they told me that activating EM1 is a lot like brewing beer, I thought I should buy a kit and figure it out for myself. Not long after I got my first kit, I was pouring EM1 and molasses in the wort...not something I recommend for everyone if you are looking for a good tasting beer.

I went out and got my hands on Charlie Papazian's The Complete Joy of Home Brewing. I highly recommend this for anyone who wants to not only brew beer, but also understand the art of fermentation. The book has great, easy-to-understand information on how microbes break down starches, how enzymes work, how to prevent contamination, etc. This is a must-have for people wanting to get into activating EM1..or wanting to start fermenting other things with EM1.

Brewing beer with EM1 is quite an art and very difficult at times because you need to have lots of patience. For some reason it takes a long time to get a really good brew. I have tried a couple different methods and have a batch going right now that I plan on trying something different....again (it is the chef in me that I like to experiment).

The first, and best beer I ever made, I did the following:
I made a 5-gallon batch of bock, but added in about 3 times the amount of hops to the mix (I wasn't crazy about hops back then, but threw them in anyway.) After about 2 weeks of fermentation in the glass carboy (outside on the Tucson) I tasted the brew and thought it was too bitter. I took another kit and boiled it according to instructions...minus the hops this time. I mixed in the 5 gallons from the fermented batch. (yes, I had 10 gallons of wort now).

I took these 10 gallons and added two vials of liquid yeast (one each) after it cooled down. I decided I would add an equal amount of EM1 per carboy as well and pitched it in too.

The 10 gallons then fermented on the porch for three months, bubbling away for over 1 month.

The black beer ended up being about the same color as a rich IPA (similar to Moylan's Hopsickle or Decadant Imperial IPA). When it was ready, I bottled it and let it age in the bottle for another 3 months. I did try a bottle here and there during the three months and have to say that it needs that amount of time to mature.

The cool thing about this beer, besides a great flavor, was that you didn't get drunk drinking it.
FYI: Drinking EM1 can sober you up pretty quickly. Depending on how much alcohol you've had, you can drink EM1 and it eats the alcohol in your system. It helps prevent hangovers...and can be used to get rid of hangovers the next day.
Last year's "Arrogant Bastard" clone:
Our local home brew store...Brew Your Own Brew, sells a kit that helps make a beer like Stone's Arrogant Bastard. This time I added the EM1 at the beginning. This brew was one of those that sneaks up on you. It was a little flat, but had a great flavor. I swear it was stronger than most beers and went right to your head. I recommend only drinking one of these bad boys.
This month's batch: IPA. Whole Grain, Whole Hops, American Ale Yeast.
The batch is still brewing...been about a week. I'll let you know how it comes out.

What's new at San Xavier Co-OP Farm?

Dr. Higa and Hiro Nago of EM Hawaii met with Billy Worthey, Farm Manager of the San Xavier Co-op Farm, a Native American farm on the Southwest side of Tucson.

They have about 800 acres under cultivation now. Billy is quick to tell you that he is practicing Nature Farming techniques, that they are not certified organic, but have never used any synthetic chemicals on their farm. They use EM•1®, fish products, and some garlic products, lots of cover crops, and no deep tilling. He is growing alfalfa year-round and several Native American crops. They also contract grow for a few other Native American farms in the US to provide them with heirloom seeds for traditional Native America crops.

San Xavier is building a conference center right on the farm property. Billy says he plans to hold seminars on the commercial applications of EM Technology® there someday. We'll keep you posted as we get more information. Sleeping Frog Farm

I made another visit to Sleeping Frog Farm today. The boys have been busy! They've got the other two fields dug in and ready to prep. The lettuce is mostly gone and they're growing lots of heirloom tomatoes that are ripening up.

These guys have it going. Besides selling at three farmer's markets per week, they are also selling to two premiere restaurants in the Tucson area: Janos and Primo at the Starr Pass Marriott. Both restaurants pride themselves on their local and high quality produce. Adam and CJ insist on growing only heirloom vegetables and growing what their customers want. The beds are in constant production and rotation as they experiment with what grows best in their area. Afterall, they only started the farm less than a year ago.

As we roamed around, we grazed on patty-pan squash, red okra, and some leafy herbs. They've got some neat lemon cucumbers.

They got a few new goats too!

Here are some cool pictures from the farm.

CJ, Adam and I are working on setting up some classes over the next few months on making and using bokashi, large-scale bokashi production, activated EM1, EM5, EM Fermented Plant Extract, and other items that are in the APNAN manual. In the fall, they plan on setting up a tilapia tank and experimenting with raising fish. We'll get some EM1 in there for sure!


We received an email today asking about the ability to get rid of the odor from mothballs with EM. I can't remember the last time I smelled a mothball... They do stink for sure. I live in the desert and don't really have anything that moths eat...nor have seen anything in a long time that was eaten by moths. When I lived back East, I used to see things eaten by them.

I digress.

The idea was to take a piece of clothing and soak it in some EM1 and water. I suggested about 5 ounces in a 5-gallon bucket of water. After the cloth was taken out, I also suggested to spray some on the cloth with a 1:64 dilution, which is 2 ounces per gallon.

I'll have to get some mothballs and try this out. I'll post about it when I try it.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

back online--lecture follow up

I had some major computer break down while in Louisiana and am now back online. I had to get a new computer. I got a new MacBook and am loving it!

Our meetings in Louisiana and Florida went well. We had a small group of very interested people in Baton Rouge who came out during a large storm to learn about EM®. We thank them for coming out in the torrential downpours, some came from over a hundred miles.

In Florida, we were able to visit several large farms who are using EM1 in their crop production. Some of them are growing as many as 50 varieties of vegetables. Our activator in Florida, Tom Wilkes, is working with the farmers to see their success through with EM•1® applications.

We changed the format a bit for the lecture in Florida to focus more on their local issues. The evening started with a 10-minute section of Life In The Soil, followed by a presentation about what types of research projects are available in the area. Next, an Ag-extension researcher presented on the use of beneficial microbes in building disease-suppressive soils. His presentation showed several bench studies using single strains of microbes on local plants. Lastly, Dr. Okumoto presented on Effective Microorganisms™. His presentation built on the concept of using EM® as a consistent approach, with a long history of use on several continents in crop production.

We are working on editing videos of the presentations and hope to have them available soon. Thank you to everyone that was involved in helping us put these together and for everyone who attended. We hope to see you a future events.