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Old 04-22-2013, 01:39 PM  
soundsgood
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Default Indoor Bokashi (Beerkashi) Composting for the Urban Gardener

INDOOR URBAN BOKASHI COMPOSTING WITH BEER BRAN/HOPS/RICE HULLS

As a former country girl and neophyte container gardener with a 4' x 3' east-facing fire escape landing along with 3 huge south-facing windows, the idea of having to purchase and then continually fertilize...
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If only I had access to un-asphalted ground...

Last edited by soundsgood; 04-24-2013 at 05:39 AM. Reason: Uploading picture
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  #10  
By soundsgood on 05-18-2014, 05:43 AM
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Thanks, Cincy!

So happy to find others as enthusiastic about this magnificent organism "tech".

Living on the outskirts of a major metropolitan area where I work and suffer the occasional stink of the passing garbage truck, it's my hope that waste agencies soon gloam onto the benefits of this methodology.

Look forward to your tales
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  #11  
By CincyGarden on 06-04-2014, 05:36 PM
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I realize my comment "I couldn't have done any better with your work" was poorly written and bound to be misinterpreted. I think I meant to say I couldn't have done better than your work here. Thank you again.

I really don't have a lot to add. My only suggestions would be to add some definition of what the process accomplishes, and how. Bokashi essentially pickles the product (via lacto) and renders it acidic, if done "right". The medium, after 2 week product, still has a lot of moisture but the moisture is mostly acidic, leaving it really unattractive for insects to lay eggs and impossible for the eggs to mature. Lots of folks at least halfway familiar with compost are convinced it draws flies, but if done in the right batches, bokashi doesn't.

Also, because it is essentially "pickled" it won't smell like a decomposing thing. It isn't decomposing, but preserved (like many of the lacto prepared foods we eat, the list is long). It does need to be put underground before it desiccates, but that should be pretty easy. Plant some flowers on it!

I know you know these things.

As far as how waste agencies deal with these things: the only way they can deal with the mountain of crap is to put it on the crap mountain. It's up to us to teach people that they can stop lugging a bunch of crap to the sidewalk weekly, which crap will just be put on crap mountain.

The tagline of my presentation has always been "Everything Composts Somewhere." I doubt that the tagline will ever attract a wide audience, but I hope it gives some the sense that their garbage is compost for someone.

Even the smallest household could make use of this method. It works. Folks can even grow food in it (as you point out), with minimal effort (and, in my case, some effort to keep the cat out).

None of this is meant as a critique, but just as some ideas I've explored while working on how to turn folks on. The major time/value is in making the bran, but if folks would get together and make a 100# batch of this, it could last a long time.

Again, I am incredibly impressed and incredibly happy that you and the others you have linked have investigated this idea. Thank you again.
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  #12  
By soundsgood on 06-05-2014, 04:15 AM
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Thanks Cincy for your excellent thoughts. You catch me editing/updating the "brochure" since a friend recently shared with others and...you know. From your perspective, see that you see it as a more complete guide than written and I should expand my vision and will endeavor to accommodate a larger view. Why not?

NYC began to roll out composting. Wrote the Queen of the Mountain suggesting she research Bokashi. We will see... Perhaps it is time for a letter to the editor.

Please speak of the genesis of your workshops...

No misinterpretation was had. Much like dog people, microorganism people just get each other. No?

Like your tag line! We will need a bunch of tag lines if this tech is to take root...

Have an experiment going: simultaneous planting of aged Bokashi bucket and plant. Was short of potting soil so... A month in and the mint thrives! Too soon to recommend this timing? Filled the container to the tippy-top to account for shrinkage...
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  #13  
By biigblueyes on 06-06-2014, 07:20 AM
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I am enjoying the comments and insights being shared here. Thanks so much!
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  #14  
By soundsgood on 06-07-2014, 06:33 AM
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Hi BBE! Thanks for your note that reminded me to update with a response from the Queen of NYC's mountain:

Your message to the Commissioner of NYC's Department of Sanitation was forwarded to the DSNY Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling, since we manage the City's composting programs.

Thank you for your kind words about our efforts to compost more!

The City's organics collection pilot utilizes large-scale industrial composting methods, and therefore we do accept meat, dairy, fish and other animal proteins which are not suitable for home composting. We've heard reports that rodent infestation is actually reduced in the pilot areas where residents use our heavy-duty latched bins for food scraps.

We are familiar with Bokashi fermenting, but so far we have not received serious proposals about how to use this method for large-scale operations such as ours. Nonetheless, I will make sure the project managers for our organics collection and composting programs see your recommendation.

For complete information on NYC's organics programs: NYCWasteLess: Organics Collections & Drop-Offs.
For how to recycle more and waste less in New York City: NYC Recycles.

Thank you for contacting us.

Mary Most
- Public Information & Outreach Specialist
- NYC Department of Sanitation
- Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling
--------------------------------------------
recycle more, waste less!
w: NYC Recycles
w: NYC Stuff Exchange - Home
w: DSNY - The City of New York Department of Sanitation

Follow us:
- www.facebook.com/NYCrecycles
- www.twitter.com/NYCrecycles (@NYCrecycles)
- E-mail Update Registration - NYCRecycles - NYC Recycles e-news signup

**************************
-----Original Message-----
Correspondence # 1-1-975050708
Sent: 5/31/2014 01:21:27 PM

Delighted to see NYC rolling out composting. Congrats! To eliminate smells, vermin, and be able to include meat, dairy and fish for collection, please have someone research Bokashi fermenting. Its extraordinary. Truly.

**************************

Not a rote reply. There is room for someone with vision to pitch this on an industrial scale...good news? Yes
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  #15  
By biigblueyes on 06-07-2014, 12:54 PM
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It sounds like your next project is to work on a proposal on how it can work in their operation. . . .
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  #16  
By soundsgood on 06-07-2014, 03:48 PM
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Hahahaha!

That kind of grand thinking is beyond my pay grade, tho I'm willing to put some thought into it, just for kicks.

Have updated the now-new brochure and uploaded for sharing here:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/h7apmw0k36...ecipe%2001.pdf
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  #17  
By CincyGarden on 06-08-2014, 12:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundsgood View Post
Please speak of the genesis of your workshops...
Well, it didn't happen quite the way I thought it would, but there were three groups that were really interested at first: the county Solid Waste district, the local food group, and the Civic Garden Center. Later, the local Seirra club got interested, as they have an interest in water conservation and had funding to that end. Several smaller groups & businesses were interested, and there were a few one-off presentations at green fairs, libraries, garden clubs, etc. You've probably already realized that it can get quite busy.

I suspect the major pull of the workshops was that I gave away buckets and bran to everyone attending. I sourced my buckets from local restaurants, mainly a local deli chain that used a lot of pickles. They go through hundreds of 5 gallon pickle buckets a month, and were happy to let me have them.

The bran, as you know, is ridiculously inexpensive to make, and a little goes a long way. A local co-op got together and held a workshop where we made 100 gallons of it in an afternoon and they were set for a long time, and can do it themselves.

Quote:
Originally Posted by soundsgood View Post
Have an experiment going: simultaneous planting of aged Bokashi bucket and plant. Was short of potting soil so... A month in and the mint thrives! Too soon to recommend this timing? Filled the container to the tippy-top to account for shrinkage...
I used to say "4 weeks from kitchen to compost" and, given the right conditions, this is correct: after cooling off for two weeks in the bucket and then two more weeks underground, you shouldn't be able to identify anything. To see how this worked, I planted into an aquarium that was filled with bokashi and topped with a couple inches of soil. This didn't work as well as it should have because the moisture from the bokashi couldn't drain off. But, I did see how the roots gradually tested the "waters" of the bokashi and eventually just ignored it.

I think the standard recommendation (which you point out) is that after it's been covered with soil for 2 weeks, it's fine to transplant into. Before that, it's seeds only.

I'm not terribly surprised that mint would be the exception, though. The minute you thought about planting anything in that stuff, the mint was moving in anyway

The rest is a bit long-winded, but I hope it's pertinent.

As far as NYC's response: you'll see that there can be a lot of politics associated with this stuff. As for it not being compatible with "industrial composting" (oh, you mean landfill methods then?) that's simply not true. "It's the lacto, stupid," which will speed decomposition, in many cases dramatically. I'm sure if NYC were interested in conducting such an experiment, many of the EM makers would be very interested in sponsoring with the know-how and materials to make it happen. Of course, that would require they got off the tractor (high horse) and actually looked at the stuff, but it wouldn't take long to realize the value in using lacto/EM to facilitate the process: in fact, it's happening already in industrial composting through exposure.

In some ways, I sympathize with the traditional composters. I did it for years and it took a long time to get it together so that it worked the way I needed it to. It's a lonely craft, dirty and all-to-often gross and smelly. At the same time, though, I was dismayed by the lengths people went to discredit the method and me personally. It even seeped into my professional life, though I bear some responsibility for that. I'm not saying this to turn you off, just to say that to prepare you for the fact that some folks, even (or especially) some that you would think would be right behind it, have their compost bins just the way they want them and will fight to keep them that way. But you nail it on the head with your story of doing this from an apartment, and definitely continue to come at it from that perspective: it doesn't take up the space a traditional compost bin requires.

Honestly, I think a method like this catches on with individuals quicker than with the "establishment," as sad as that is. Also, in many places with programs like NYC's, there are community gardens around, so if a person wanted to do this without maintaining a container garden, those community gardeners would probably be very happy for some clean compost. There could even be some produce or flowers in it for them. It can be a relatively easy way to contribute a great deal to the community, as you see yourself how great a fertilizer this stuff can be. [End of rant]

I like your term "dirt machine" better than indoor composting or bokashi. There's a lot less room for personal bias and confusion.

Love your brochure, btw.
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  #18  
By soundsgood on 06-09-2014, 06:08 AM
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A lot to digest here...so I hope you will bear with me as I take my time to ingest and respond as I'm moved and able.

I thought the response from NYC was very good. Open. Aware. Human. At least there was a paragraph that was hand-crafted specific to my note.

Of course there are politics, and unfortunately that's not a game I play well or love. The message I've been sharing from that correspondence is that there's an opening for someone to make a Bokashi-based empire in NY

Don't see where NYC thought Bokashi incompatible with classic composting, just that a plan for classic is in place and nobody's offered a viable plan for this alternative.

Even if the city doesn't get behind it, I see folks one-by-one getting behind using the bran so their city-provided compost bins don't stink or draw cockroaches and rats. That's a lotta bran-infused microorganisms.

A classic composting friend responded as you suggest. Another couple have realized this will augment their extant compost practice and have lately begun making their own bran and moreover, spreading the word.

Classic composting requires a fairly large investment in knowledge building and systematizing. Tough to give that investment up. The message to those folks is not to give it up, but to incorporate Bokashi into the system and eliminate the foul scents and animal attraction. Toward that, wonder who's created a hybrid system? That's a Google for another day.

To see how this worked, I planted into an aquarium that was filled with bokashi and topped with a couple inches of soil. This didn't work as well as it should have because the moisture from the bokashi couldn't drain off. But, I did see how the roots gradually tested the "waters" of the bokashi and eventually just ignored it.

Smart test! My guess was that layering dirt / fresh Bokashi / dirt with some chopping of dirt into the fresh Bokashi would in two weeks prove just fine for tender, hungry roots, and how fast would the roots grow anyway? How did the plants fare? Did they grow well?

You're right about the mint.

All right, it was nice having my first cuppa with you and your good thoughts. More another day.
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  #19  
By CincyGarden on 06-24-2014, 05:53 PM
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Hey, Sound. I haven't been very active, but did read your post before and wanted to respond. Let me start out by repeating: AWESOME! I really love where you're going with this and in no way want to detract/dissuade or otherwise discourage you to/from this endeavor.

I'm one of those guys that have had compost conversations with just about everyone I know. I deal with it everyday, as you (and most composters) do, and just think about it a lot. As a former NYC resident, I'm 100% behind your efforts. Anything I say that seems like "hey, folks are whacked" is because folks are whacked.

It takes a brave soul to do what you are doing. Compost in an apartment? WTF?!?!? Imagine what your parents must think... (LOL)

Lengthy assurances of intent aside:

Quote:
Originally Posted by soundsgood View Post
Even if the city doesn't get behind it, I see folks one-by-one getting behind using the bran so their city-provided compost bins don't stink or draw cockroaches and rats. That's a lotta bran-infused microorganisms.
Amen. But, truthfully, any good "hot" composting pile doesn't draw or stink. It's just a lot harder (i.e. nearly impossible over the long term) to make a "good hot" pile. This is composting without a brain, just bran (I made a funny).

Quote:
Originally Posted by soundsgood View Post
A classic composting friend responded as you suggest. Another couple have realized this will augment their extant compost practice and have lately begun making their own bran and moreover, spreading the word.
Amen! Want to make your "classic" friend jealous? Share how a new composter is doing with theirs. Nothing makes a composter more jealous than someone doing it better, in my experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by soundsgood View Post

Classic composting requires a fairly large investment in knowledge building and systematizing. Tough to give that investment up. The message to those folks is not to give it up, but to incorporate Bokashi into the system and eliminate the foul scents and animal attraction. Toward that, wonder who's created a hybrid system? That's a Google for another day.
I think this is the rub. There is no "best" way to compost, as everything composts somewhere. It goes through the same process, eventually, everywhere and everyday.

Conventional/classic/contemporary composting literature emphasizes reducing vermin and smell, and elaborates on it with huge bins and lots of material.

To be able to compost in small amounts requires making the material available to the microbes and (eventually) the insects that would inhabit a larger pile, sooner.

That's what the bokashi process does. It just makes things easier for the same processes to happen. It is a hybrid system. Worms, bugs, all that stuff gets in there, but it's pre-fermented and has all the available moisture to feed the microbes.

If folks could dry & shred their own compost to use as bran, the same things would happen. Lacto is everywhere, and is opportunistic as heck. On roadkill and on every piece of garbage left floating around. It's just here, and a part of the process.


Quote:
Originally Posted by soundsgood View Post
Smart test! My guess was that layering dirt / fresh Bokashi / dirt with some chopping of dirt into the fresh Bokashi would in two weeks prove just fine for tender, hungry roots, and how fast would the roots grow anyway? How did the plants fare? Did they grow well?
Everything did fine, except the stuff the cat laid on. Root stuff (carrots, radishes, etc.) developed fine, and flowers put roots down, too. The acidity related to the ferment neutralizes quite quickly. The plants knew when to dip their toes in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by soundsgood View Post

All right, it was nice having my first cuppa with you and your good thoughts. More another day.
Another cuppa sometime, maybe a stein sometime too. Best to you, and I hope you're doing well.
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