- Changes to Microbial Earth Farms
- Biochar - a great new soil ammendment product
- Bokashi best practices updated
- Tumbler composting best practices updated
- Glomalin - a soil hero.
- Non Microbial Earth Xmas gifts
- Costco Blendtech Professional Blender Sale!
- When it comes to composting, where you live in the US makes a difference.
Changes to Microbial Earth Farms Mission/Purpose
About 14 months ago when I came back from vacation, my partner Allan informed me that he and his wife would need to exit the partnership of Microbial Earth Farms, as they were moving far out of town. That meant no small change for me, as Allan was responsible for much of the physical operation of the business. It has taken a while for that change to result in a new direction. The first step was to deal with the difficult tasks of downsizing and figuring out all of the things I previously didn’t have to do, as well as discovering what was not going to work. After a while, the opportunity to start moving forward again presents itself.
Luckily for me, Microbial Earth has a sister company called Sunergie which received a contract to complete a study of a new soil amendment technology called Biochar. That work began last May and has been proceeding through the slower garden months. You will see more about that below. Read more ...
I want to introduce you to a new product that is changing the way many people understand soil amendments. This material is being rapidly adopted by compost producers focused on the microbial aspects of compost. It is usually an ingredient in premium compost, and it is called Biochar.
What you are seeing is the carbon structure of wood. Think of bees depositing honey inside a hive. The 'honeycomb' would contain nutrients, water and microbes which can feed the plant. This carbon structure has proven to last over 1,000 years in the soil.
By itself, Biochar is not nearly as productive as when it is “charged” with microbes. The best way to do this is by including it as an ingredient in the composting process. The concept is similar with bokashi. When we manufacture the bokashi bran
, we are including the biochar in the initial fermentation of the bran. We then dry the bran down in sunlight to produce the dry bran
you purchase in the stores or farmer’s markets. Alternatively, you can purchase moist bokashi bran from us for a lower price at this page link
. Read more ...
Bokashi Best Practices updated
It is time that we started a massive re-training on bokashi composting. We have learned a lot over the last months and I want to thank all of you who have contributed.
Despite what we may all have started out with, I want you to take the following ideas now to the core of how you think of the bokashi bin:
· Think of a bokashi bin as your stomach: The better you chew things, the better the stomach digests. Reducing the size of your food scraps dramatically improves their fermentation in the bokashi bin.
· The better we reduce the size of the food scraps, the more tea we capture through the bottom.
· When air pockets trapped in your stomach or intestines come out, nobody wants to be around. The same holds true for air pockets in your bokashi bin. If you eliminate the air pockets, you dramatically reduce foul odors.
· Let the bokashi bin drain into a larger pail for 30 minutes, even 120 minutes (with a much larger pail). You will be amazed at how much liquid will come out, but at an incredibly slow rate. Don’t be surprised if you get close to 1 gallon of tea the first time you try this with a bin more than 50% full.
· Re-engineer the way food scraps are handled in your kitchen. Re-engineering means changing the way the total processing of your food scraps is handled. At my house, we use a second jar for our blender to collect all food scraps. When the jar is close to full we add 1-2 cups of water and reduce everything to mush, using about 10 seconds of electricity. Combined with the fermentation of bokashi, this material dissolves super fast in the compost bin or soil (i.e. 1 to 2 weeks).
Tumbler Composting best practices updated
“My compost is sludgy.” “My compost is not working.” “There are too many flies.”
I have had many opportunities to visit places with these problems. What I notice are the following:
· Sludgy bins and/or big globs of food scraps: This is because we are not adding 4 units of brown stuff for each unit of green stuff. Rarely do I see anybody with leaf bags or a leaf storage pile beside their compost bin, If you don’t want to collect and store leaves beside your tumbler, tumblers are not the right choice for you.
· There are too many flies: This indicates anaerobic conditions. The compost is not being turned frequently enough. There is also a high correlation with odors from these piles, including ammonia.
· It’s not composting: The pile is too dry. Please look at the chart below. This chart describes the ratio of precipitation to evaporation as developed by Transeau. Keep in mind that in dry/drought years, the lines shift eastward. If you are living in the shaded area to the left (the plains or drylands), then your environment evaporates moisture faster than it receives via rains etc. That means you must continuously add water to your compost tumbler or it will dry out. Compost needs to be at 50% moisture, such that you can squeeze a drop of water or even two from the compost materials. If you are using composting for waste diversion goals, I strongly suggest you convert to a bokashi system and bury your food scraps directly into soil. If you live in the shaded area to the right (forestry dominated areas), you are in a classic composting area which evaporates less moisture than it receives in rainfall, dew etc. It is relatively easy to keep a compost pile at 50% moisture here. This is the area in which Rodale documented and developed composting (Pennsylvania). It is not the same as the two areas to the left. If you live in the center regions (breadbasket of the USA) then you are somewhere between the two other categories and you benefit from a variety of systems.