Fermented Plant Juice

fermented-plant-juice

This is similar to the Korean Natural Farming method of fermenting plant material anaerobically:

Multiple comments beneath the video claim that it IS the same method, but it isn’t.

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This Hawaiian technique for creating fermented plant juice uses a lot of sugar and lacks leaf mould and sea salt. I am curious if it works well.

Some commenters claim it has done miracles for their gardens.

Youtuber Tom Fisher writes:

“I used your FPJ made out of Henbit and raw sugar and mixed it with EM1 and Bokashi Juice. The first spraying was FPJ and BJ. The plants took off right away. AMAZING!!! I sprayed our, and my neighbors flowers and shrubs with it and they are gorgeous! My garlic is over 30″ tall and my strawberries are a foot tall have have more flowers on them than I have ever seed in my life on strawberry plants. Thanks for an excellent video. You are a blessing to me and my family. Blessings to you!! My next batch will be Comfrey or Purslane.”

I may have to do a side-by-side test of methods to see how this works compared to the JADAM method.

Many compost tea enthusiasts will tell you that anaerobic fermentation is a bad practice, yet my own experiments have shown it to be a good source of soil fertility, particularly when compost supplies are low or you are gardening in sandy soil and need to optimize plant nutrition.

Pulling a bunch of materials from a wide range of plants is good for minerals.

Not having to bother with stirring or a bubbler or rapid application after creation is labor-saving.

So… I’m on the anaerobic train. Darn the microbes – full speed ahead!

I am gratified to see my own experience and experiments are backed up by both traditional Korean and Hawaiian practices.

Compost Everything!

The Potential for a Compost Water Heater

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Yesterday I walked up to the big galvanized compost pile I created and was amazed by how much heat was radiating from it.

That’s the pile I built in this video:

It got me thinking again for the umpteenth time about the potential for heating water with a compost pile.

At our house there is a sweet solar water heater on the roof which provides abundant hot water… except on rainy days. The compost pile made me wonder: what if the water from that heater were backed up by a compost pile water heater like this article describes:

“…the basic idea behind a compost water heater is that tubing is coiled throughout the compost pile and then filled with water, which in turn is heated by the compost pile.

As the below image illustrates, cold water goes into the coiled tube and hot water comes out. Not only that but it’s also possible to extract methane gas from the compost pile, which can then be used for cooking or heating.

Thermal compost pile

Looking back at the work of Jean Pain, his compost piles built with wood chips were massive. In some cases, he was employing 60 tons of compost in a single pile to provide his energy needs. More recently, however, experiments have used piles that are as small as 6’ x 6’ to create a similar effect. Some of these modern piles are producing temperatures of 150°F or more.

The trick to improving the original design is the use of more polyethylene tubing. In the typical 6’ x 6’ compost pile mentioned above, you might expect to use at least 300 feet of 1 inch diameter polyethylene tubing. This tubing is carefully coiled and layered in between the layers of compost to repeatedly heat the water as it moves through the various layers of the coil system.

As a general rule, the pile will start with a compressed layer of compost followed by a layer of coiled tubing followed by a layer of compressed compost until you reach the desired height.

Since a compost water heater does not have a hot water tank, the tubing becomes the “tank” in this example. This means that the more tubing you use, the more hot water you will have available at a given time. Think long, relaxing shower versus being the last one in the house to get a shower before work.”

 

Just thoughts for now.

Using Seaweed in the Garden

Sea-coconuts

A nice afternoon led to a good video on using seaweed in the garden:

Enjoy. I’m going to write a much longer post on this topic for The Grow Network soon.

The Galvanized Compost Digester

Galvanized-tub-compost-bin

The kids found a big galvanized tub of some sort:

Galvanized-tub-compost-bin-empty

 

It was probably the casing for something, but I have no idea what.

That doesn’t matter, though, as whatever its original purpose was, it has now been repurposed as a compost bin.

Galvanized-tub-compost-bin

You can see the video here:

As I remark in the video, my Dad built a compost bin in his back yard that continually digests all the kitchen scraps from the house without being turned. Nature does it for you. This bin is a great size for making lots of compost.

I have lots and lots of leaves available thanks to the cocoa orchard.

Cocoa-leaves

 

Local farmers often rake up all the leaves beneath their cocoa trees and burn them. I was told this makes it easier to find all the cocoa pods when they harvest, but I find that management method to be a terrible waste.

Trees are designed to cycle nutrients. Old leaves drop, are digested by soil organisms, then the trees reabsorb the nutrients. Since I have started managing the cocoa here, I have let nature take its course in rotting the leaves – except for the occasional tarp-load of leaves I “borrow” for composting.

The soil beneath the cocoa is no longer cracked clay. Instead, it’s darkening and softening as it’s filled with humus and crisscrossed with fungal hyphae.

Cocoa leaf management aside, I am excited about this new no-turn compost bin. We’ll just keep chucking in lots of good stuff and in a year or so I’ll dump it out and start sifting.

What Can Go In Compost? (The Rules are WRONG!)

what can go in compost

It’s an age-old question: what can go in compost?

If you pay attention to the experts, you get a great big silly list of “don’ts!”

Let’s throw that list out!

The Truth About What Can Go in Compost

If it’s organic and not contaminated with something nasty, like herbicides or heavy metals, throw it in. I add fish guts, hair, ashes, bones, seaweed, meat, paper, bread, charcoal, cake, raw manure and more.

I’ve even safely composted human waste in a compost pile, as I describe in Compost Everything: The Good Guide to Extreme Composting.

The many rules in composting end up making for lots of compost quitters. You don’t need all those rules. Nature was designed as a big recycling and composting machine. Trust that design and quit worrying.

If you want perfect, crumbly compost in a short period of time, you will need to follow some rules – but if you want a lot more compost over a little longer period of time, then don’t worry so much about getting ratios correct and chopping things up before adding them.

Nature will make great compost for you. Throw it on the ground.

Criticisms

Like… rats! So…

What about Rats?

Ah, rats. Everyone hates rats.

In the comments on my video, BonnieBlue2A wrote:

“The only way I would place anything that might attract rodents would be in a rural area and using the Berkeley Method of hot composting. Being considerate of neighbors and the host of problems rodent bring (disease/fleas) is important. Meat/bones really should be done under hot composting conditions.”

To which CrosStitching replied:

“Rodents are attracted to compost piles regardless of the presence of meat and bones. Soldier flies larva and others will pick the bones clean before rats get there. Compost piles make a good home for rats. Period. I’ve had them move into a mostly carbon rich compost pile. If you don’t want them in a compost pile, build a rodent proof enclosed compost pile with 2×4”s and hardware cloth with a locking lid.”

And I further wrote:

“Rats go after fruit peels, corn, rice, spaghetti noodles and all kinds of other things. Hot compost is nice, but it’s too much work to get started all the time. I’m certainly not going to throw out all that potential fertility because of rodent worries. Sure, if you’re in a city area, though, I get it. I would just hardware cloth the area and then throw everything in. Rats will find compost no matter what, as CrosStitching notes.”

Of course, if you trap rats you can compost them too. I’m growing some nice pumpkins on top of a composted rat right now.

what can go in compost

More compost!

Don’t fear the rodents, as Blue Compost Cult once sang.

But What About Bones Not Breaking Down?

No, bones don’t break down all that quickly, but they do break down eventually – and they’re good for your plants! Why throw them out? Keep tossing them back into the pile or go ahead and rake them right into your garden.

Someone commented on the bones scattered across some of my beds once and I had to explain it to them. No, it’s not typical – but they feed your vegetables.

As I state in the video, people won’t throw meat and bones in their compost but they do go to the store and buy blood meal and bone meal.

There’s a disconnect here! Just compost it.

Compost everything, folks. You won’t believe what can go in compost piles and come out beautiful.

RED Gardens shared success with no-rules composting recently (as I posted here and share in my recent video). If you think I’m nuts, maybe his less nutty approach might appeal to you more:

 

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Finally, I now have over 14,300 subscribers on my YouTube channel. John Kohler has 372,000. That means I’m 1/26 of the way to reaching him.

Almost there. Soon, soon.

How to Make Your 2017 Garden More Productive

more-productive-garden

Some good ideas in this video:

I stack kitchen scraps into my beds instead of manure and let it rot down right where it will do the most good.

Manure is not welcome in my gardens any more unless I know it’s not contaminated with evil herbicides. And trust me: much of it is!

Fertility is Everywhere

seaweed

You can find food for your garden in the strangest places.

Fallen leaves, manure, rotten wood, ashes, fish guts, urine, grass clippings… even seaweed and sea urchin shells will work:

I don’t have a standard mix of materials I add to my garden. Instead, I add whatever is currently available, from Epsom salts to rabbit manure, coffee grounds to moringa leaves.

I like a broad mix as I’m not only interested in making the plants look green, I’m also interested in maximizing their nutritional content, as Steve Solomon writes in his excellent book The Intelligent Gardener.

Start thinking about the many garden inputs available to you. Chances are you’re missing some great fertilizer opportunities.

Have a wonderful Lord’s Day – see you Monday.

 

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Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
the Lord hears when I call to him.

Be angry,[b] and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”

You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

 

-Psalm 4, ESV

Weed & Feed

weed-and-feed

My Dad was really a lawn guy when I was growing up. He loved this stuff:

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I don’t, obviously, as I don’t keep a nice lawn and I don’t like herbicides – however, you can combine weeding and feeding if you’re clever.

Rachel demonstrates:

No chemicals required!

The Chop & Drop Idea is Truly Revolutionary

chop-and-drop

I really just can’t get over how great chop and drop is – and I’ve been doing it for years.

In my latest video you can see me use the method to feed and mulch a lovely breadnut a friend gave me when we first moved here.

I got the idea from Geoff Lawton originally and love how easy it is.

Got an invasive tree? Chop and drop it.

Plant fast-growing and nitrogen fixing species, then chop and drop them as mulch around your fruit trees.

There’s a section in my Compost Everything movie where I demonstrate this around a pear tree.

chop-and-drop_2

Though I often deliberately plant species to feed my trees, I also use the naturally occurring weeds and grass to build the soil, like this guy:

Weeds are soil bandaids, remember?

We are too quick to knock them down, rake them up and throw them away.

Use them to build soil instead.

One you start thinking about the many trees and weeds you can chop and drop to feed the plants you want to feed, you’ll see all of nature differently.

Chop and drop and build soil in fast forward.

No Rules Compost

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This guy could have been reading Compost Everything!

I love seeing a pile of “waste” turned into great big piles of beautiful compost.

No-rules-composting

Meat, paper, bones, oils… whatever. And it makes wonderful compost.

See? See?

This is still more complicated than much of my own composting, but when you’re running a community gardening project you do need to get that fine compost going for regular vegetable production. He’s getting it hot and turning it, which makes the process faster, but for you and I in a backyard situation… it’s not necessary.

I like his sifter, incidentally.

no-rules-compost-sifter

It would be really nice to have a sifter like that over a concrete slap so you couldjust scrape up the compost as it falls.

Winter is a great time to compost. If you’re not composting right now or if the rules have been holding you back, break free – throw it on the ground – it will rot!

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