Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rounding off the series on fertilizers

My small series on natural fertilizers have given me some aha-experiences and have generated good comments. I'd like to add them into a post so I've decided to put them in the 'grand finale'. (If you don't recognise them they turned up on the motherblog Parkettodlaren.)

Liquid gold
As soon as I'd written the post on this subject and sent it off through cyberspace I found a recipe for indoor gold water in Hemträdgården, the member's magazine for one of the biggest garden societies in Sweden. The recipe are as follows

1 part urin
20 parts water

Easy as that - indoor liquid gold is more diluted.

Night soil
My readers agreed with me on the fact that manure always contains infections. Ms.noob (link in swedish) writes
"a small parenthesis, if anyone would try to pick manure right out of the pile, just do it if you are completely sure on the horses' owner and are one hundred percent sure on what they eat. If you're not careful the manure will contain remnants of medicine, hormones produced from gestation, nutritional supports for horses like magnesium and iron, different kinds of parasites transmittable to humans, redworm for exemple, rust from water bowls etc (a lot more common than people think). So please, don't just go to any stable taking for granted that all horse manure is good horse manure, be careful."

Annika T, an old analogue friend of my btw, adds
"As a pharmacist I can only agree in caution with horse manure in regard to the fact that medicines don't break down completely, common worm medicines won't break down at all!! This applies to some of the parasite medecines used on bovines, they stay vigorous for years!!"

Hm, you don't want worm medicine in the soil when you garden outside - the common worm is your best friend (especially on clay soil) and is affected by the medication too. Before you pick up manure, do ask some polite questions to your provider before you accept the pile. Organic farmers in Sweden are not allowed to use worm or parasite medication, and if that holds true outside our borders you may be more lucky if you turn to one of yours. Keep in mind that they use as much self produced fertilizer and manure as possible, so don't be sad if they can't offer you anything.

Why using worm and parasite medication at all. Well, becuase parasites and worms causes some really nasty diseases. This area is one of the few where swedish organic farmers are worse of than conventional ones, eventhough they have many well tested methods to avoid infections.

Bokashi Jenny(link in swedish) (the retailer who sold me my bokashi buckets) have been kind enough to send me some facts on making bokashi litter and the microbes that makes the bokashi go around

"I read that you are pondering making your own bokashi litter. It's pretty easy actually and what you need is EM-1 (Effective Microorganisms) manufactured in Holland after Higa's japanese recipe. You can't make the concentrate entirely on your own, you can try but on the other hand it's [the concentrate] not expensive. We haven't put EM-1 on our homepage yet, not because we oppose people doing their own litter, but because most persons I've talked don't feel like it, and we don't want to mess things up for our customers.
If you want to try it I can send you a bottle of EM-1 concentrate and a bottle of molasses, they're on 250ml (~one cup - a big one) each and costs about 100 sek (ie 12 USD) together. Buy pollard locally, preferable organic pollard. It's probably no use buying bigger bottles in the beginning; this is enough for making a year's worth of bokashi litter and the concentrate lasts twelwe months.
Did you have a allotment garden too? Something that works really well is to use EM to improve soil quality. One small bottle of EM-1 lasts really long since you ferment it to produce 20 times as much activated EM (by then it's called EM-A); this is something like bokashi fluid you drain out of your bucket but without food residue. You can make litres (gallons) of it at home (it stays fresh for a month) and it's a wonderful way to add to the microbiological life in the soil. Dilute it in the same way you dilute bokashi fluid. It's fun to compare between two plots, you notice the difference."

In a later email she sent me a link to a good webpage on how you ferment EM-1 into EM-A.
How to make EM-A

Unfortunately I wont be gardening outdoors this year, but as soon as I get the chance I'll try this out - and by then I'll probably made my first homemade bokashi litter. I'm an DIYer to a tee. Google on bokashi or EM-1 if you want to find your lokal provider of boakshis.

As you may know I've already tried the fluid from my own bokashi bucket, much to the joy of my old tomato plants. Kai Vogt Westling on Greenfoot HB(link in swedish) writes

"Just a tip, the fluid is perishable as you write, but it is possible to keep it and store in a bottle in the fridge. You can freeze it too and water it out for the spring farming operations. Dilute it one part bokashi to at least a hundred parts water."

Good to hear. I can't help feeling torn when I pour away surplus fluid. Now I can dilute it alternate worm fluid for bokashi fluid. I'll have the fattest plants in the country...


Red Icculus said...

We use several fertilizers around the house. For aggressive fertilizing, I use hydroponic runoff. It usually has to be diluted by half and then can be used with great results.

We backfill with compost. It won't burn plants, not matter how much we use. We have even started seedlings in it.

We often pick up a back of worm castings for bare spots in the lawn. It has to be mixed to at least 1/4 strength with topsoil, but it does wonders for any soil or container plants after mixing.

Rosengeranium said...

Good stuff! I'm currently using worm castings when I'm mixing 'new' soil for my plants, and they are growing like crazy!