Sunday, April 18, 2010

More seeds and my notes on bokashi composting

I managed to get some more things started yesterday. The Echinacea paradoxa are being stratified in the fridge. They need cold strat for one to 12 months...
I also planted the Sea-Buckthorn seeds and they are in the fridge with the Echinacea. The Sea-Buckthorn only need cold stratifying of about one month.
The Gojiberry seeds have been planted... and i was surprised when i got the seed packet. It was thick and felt strange.

Richters sends you a packet of dried berries for $2.50. I thought that was funny, and i was a little concerned. It seemed a bit shady at first since they sell whole, dried berries too and list the seeds separately and call them "seeds", not "whole, dried, seed-containing berries".

But i did some searching and i found this informative discussion at a board in Ireland, where a person planted the dried berries and got great plants. Instead of separating the seeds (which are similar in size and shape to rather small sweet pepper seeds)  i just broke the berries in two pieces and planted those in the soil.  I should see something from them in no less than 11 days.
 So, though it seems odd, it really isn't a big deal...and i bet its probably just as well for the seeds to be kept in their fruity little cocoon  until planting time.

I keep checking the greenhouses and it looks like everything is going to make far. Its just so chilly out there, but the greenhouses seem to stay about 10 degrees warmer in the daytime even with no real sun, and about 3-5 degrees warmer overnight.  I was not able to put any hot water bottles in them like i had considered doing.  I sort of wanted to see if i could go without.
But i am learning what things can be wintersown and what can't... too much interfering will skew my results.  Also, just because they sprouted, does not mean the seedlings won't be stunted when planting-out time comes.

But then it can't be too bad out there, since the basil is sprouting. Ha ha.

This year's garden is pretty much 90% experiment.
It kind of makes me wistful for my tiny little plots that got a bag of compost from the garden center and got all of our household and yard compost put into it each spring.

I know 28'x30' isn't huge, but i wonder if i am crazy for thinking i can do it. The book i just read by Steve Solomon seems to imply that if i have a good, sharp hoe, weeding should not be a problem even for me and my bad leg.  I sure hope it turns out to be true, cause otherwise this garden is going to rope my hubby into something that he shouldn't really be responsible for. He already has to do the refined tilling with the Mantis and will have to help me with the row hoops and covers.
Not to mention, if i want to do a root cellar...guess who will have to be doing most of  the construction on that?
Of course, if my garden utterly fails this year, i won't need a root cellar anyway. lol

I got my shipping confirmation from Henry Fields on Saturday. It says so far that billing info has been received at the UPS site. I hope this means that my plants are not sitting in their mailing package someplace on a UPS loading dock, to sit there over the weekend.  HF has an irritating habit of mailing their stuff in ridiculous, flimsy plastic bags. So i hope UPS only has the delivery info and not the actual goods and hopefully the goods are someplace conducive to plant life.  I think it would be completely foolish of that company to ship live vegetation on weekends. So i hope they haven't.
My fig tree has not shipped yet, which is fine.

My Hens & Chicks seedlings are doing well. Growing slow, but they are coming up all over the place in the flat.
I had brought the Rosemary in and they are also growing slowly but steady.

Um, what else do i have to write down...?

Oh, yeah..the Bokashi thing (also spelled Bocashi).  Its a type of composting that you can put proteins in.  I understand that if done right it can be done indoors, but i don't know that i want another indoor compost thing going on. One of the only reasons the worm bin is in the house is so that i have a place i can dump scraps without having to go to the back yard and because the red wiggler worms that are the best animal type composters are not able to survive our winters here.

Anyway the bokashi system is basically an effective microbe-innoculated bran material that is sprinkled in 
layers on top of the scrap waste. The effective microbes (EM) are basically lactobacillus.... and is apparently similar to, if not the same as what makes milk into yogurt.  EM cultures can be bought (EM1 containing a more diverse number of organisms) , but i am reading about people having the same results using the liquid that you get when straining yogurt to make yo-cheese.
I have also read of people using  newspaper sheets instead of rice or wheat bran to hold the EM.

So, what you do is get the newspaper, drench it in a mixture of water (6 parts), some molasses (1 part) and the yogurt liquid (1 part).

Put the wet, but not dripping, newspaper into plastic bags (i think a medium trash bag would work) squeeze out as much air as you can, then let it ferment for 10-14 days. Open the bags and spread the sheets to let it dry out.
I imagine the newspaper can be inoculated with the EM by spritzing the sheets with a regular spray bottle, then after they are fermented and dried, store in a used paper feed bag or a burlap sack, then put that someplace cool and dry.

To use,  layer a few pieces on the bottom of a 5 gallon pail with a tight fitting lid.   Place your scraps on that layer, then add another layer of the innoculated paper. Close the lid and repeat the next time you have more scraps, as often as once a day. They say the more you press down on the layers, the better it works.  The solid paper probably helps keep this less messy than sprinkling bran.

If you want to get a compost tea from this, you can get another bucket, attach a spigot to it, drill holes in the other (it will be the inner bucket) , put screening in the bottom, then stack the buckets.

For it to work at maximim, the pH should be around 3. This high acidity tends to taper off as the compost becomes finished.

Alternative materials besides newspaper can be shredded junk mail, wood chips, saw dust and pet bedding shavings.

Other sources of EM organisms include: kimchee, sauerkraut, natto, kefir and possibly kombucha.

The waste that it can utilize is veggies, meat, cheese, fruit, dairy (they say to exclude milk as its too much liquid) eggs, bread and the usual spent coffee grinds and  tea bags.
What makes this different from vermicomposting is the proteins and bread. What differs from standard backyard composting is the  proteins.

There is some mention of putting bones in the compost.  With a few discussions it isn't successful. One mentioned the outdoor setup was raided by wild animals.  But i think small bones like chicken wings and rib sections would deteriorate quite quickly when the acidity gets at the calcium (remember the chicken egg in vinegar science project?  we made 'rubber' eggs ), i think it wouldn't work so well with large bones such as the picnic shoulder of a pork roast. I think larger bins would have enough microbial activity  to process chicken thigh bones and maybe beef bones that come with some steaks.  Pork chop bones would probably work as well since they are thinner and the marrow is exposed.

Anyhow, i think this method might prove to be a  more complete fertilizer since it would contain composted animal products... acting much like blood, feather and bonemeal fertilizers-  but instead of buying it, it would be made of things you'd throw out otherwise.
Things you are already paying for.
When you pay $1.49/# for chicken thighs, you are also paying $1.49 /# for the bones too. Would you pay $1.49 for a pound of bones just to throw them away?

Wildlife gardeners
And myriad anecdotal internet search results.


Faith said...

LOL Two peas in a pod, I say. My goal was to plant all the unusual fruits as well, so I'm very familiar with those you mention. Turns out I've not enough time or room for everything I want to do.

Can you afford to have a load of 75 straw bales delivered to you? That works amazingly well, to simply lay the flakes down all around, and put some between plants. I wish I could afford them, myself. But I've got a friend who has done her garden that way for the last two years. No week problems and her soil improved by 3 inches of top soil in one year.

Interesting method! I've never heard of it before.


icebear said...

i have a thing with plants that make food. lol
i don't know if its a food obsession or just that i expect plants to be more than a bump on a pickle. I like them to at least *do* something. i also like to look forward to things, like flowers and fruit, whether or not they are edible. i'm not a big fan of foliage plants unless they are spectacular on their own.
but i am patient enough with plants that i am willing to wait expectantly for years just to see a few flowers or fruits.

i have heard of using straw before, i might try a little mulching with it some time.

Leigh said...

Icebear, thank you so much for taking the time to find this post and giving me the link. I've never heard of bokashi composting and am pretty excited that there is a way to compost like this. For one thing, I have plenty of leftover juices from lactofermenting, which I've never known what to do with but hate to throw away, LOL.

Also interested in the goji seeds. I've seen the plants for sale, but always ran out of garden budget before they got to the top of the list. Seeds might be a better way to go. Another thanks for this!