Friday, February 12, 2010

The Bokashi Experiment Revisited

This morning, I went out and took a good hard look at my compost. It was deemed usable after having sat for two weeks outside in a bin with some garden soil. (Ok, I actually used a garbage can we didn't need for lack of a better receptacle.) Apparently, it is too acidic when you first take it out of the bucket after fermentation, so you have to let it sit.  Plus, it's basically a pile of food scraps; not much dirt there. You're actually supposed to bury it, but I am going to use it in a container garden, so I used the garbage can with a couple layers of dirt to introduce the microbes and bugs that it needs to break it down the rest of the way.

When I poked around in it, it was a little on the stinky side, and there were still big chunks in there, but I could tell it was breaking down into some nice dirt. I also found several worms in there, which was encouraging. I had dug up a few and dropped them in to help with the rotting process, but wasn't sure they would survive.  Next time, I think I will make the drainage holes in the bottom of the can bigger and bury the bottom of it in the dirt. Then, the worms can come up and give me a hand without me having to dig for them. If you saw the condition of our yard, you would understand why this is a pain. Also, the worms here are microscopic, not big fat ones like I am used to. I did have some help in the form of Wyatt, who thought digging for worms was great fun, so that was nice.

Because I was using the container instead of the ground, I should have let my compost stew a few more weeks, but I have plants that desperately need to be planted in something other than potting soil. I mixed some of it into one of the containers I have, along with a little sphagnum moss for conditioning, and replanted one of the jalapeno plants that seems to have stalled out in growth. I added a couple tiny thyme plants that are a little on the sad side, and watered them all. Now, I am waiting to see if this stuff works magic or not.

2010 02 12_3650
I went to edit this pic and realized how overexposed it was. Too much sunlight today. So, yeah, not the greatest, but if you look on the left side, that is the side I mixed the bokashi into the soil. That weird red disk in the bottom of the picture is actually what remains of an onion top. The two tiny green specs are the thyme plants. I need to dig around the other one and fix its soil, too, but I'm curious if there will be an obvious growth difference in the two plants.

This pic below is of my two basil plants. I added some bokashi on top of their soil to see if maybe it would  help even if it wasn't mixed in.
2010 02 12_3651 

I'm hoping that improving the soil this way will not only make the plants grow faster and heartier, but improve the taste of what they produce. One thing I have discovered over the past few weeks is that potting soil makes for some very weak vegetables. We're growing lettuce inside, as the bugs just kill it outside, and I'm unimpressed with it. It's pretty tasteless, despite having used good heirloom seed to start it. We've also harvested chives and basil, but the taste of  both is not what I expected.

I'm working on a series about what the Bokashi process is like. Until then, you might take a look at this in order to understand what the science behind this composting method is.

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