Monday, May 18, 2009

Why Bokashi is Important or Gabrielle's Garden Experiment

Todd is very interested in micro-organisms. He's brewed many beers and wines and just this spring grew some delicious oyster mushrooms. We joined the Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club this spring and though some lectures seem long to me (sorry) it is overall a very interesting subject. This all ties in with what I think should be much more important to gardeners.

Today Todd told me that the white house lawn has been mycorrhizalized, if that's a word. Let me quickly say I greaty admire the Obamas for this and their organic vegetable garden as well as their beehives! Yes, the Obamas have bees!

Anyway, mycorrhizal fungi have a symbiotic association with plant roots. As a layperson, I want to explain this in a way that a layman can understand. I can't quite do that.

The company Mycorrhizal Applications, Inc. provides links to videos and articles that might, in a manner of thinking, mycorrhizalize your brain. Another company Gardens Alive sells many specific products of this sort of thing. I recently purchased a fungus gnat insect control, Knock-Out Gnats™ Granules, from them as well as a few other items. It's been about 2 weeks since I started using it so I can't fully endorse it yet.

Anyway, if you compost various things in using various methods you will probably generate a lot of good stuff for your soil. In the past I practiced vermiculture but for reason stated in a previous post, I got annoyed with it. The worst thing was the fungus gnats infestation which hopefully I will eradicate this year.
My little blue counter bucket
I think bokashi can inoculate your soil with mycorrhizal fungi if you introduce it to your bucket. I have ended up inoculation my bokashi with wormcastings leftover from my wormbins and I think that that might be very effective. I'm not a scientist but I do know that wormcastings are rich in micro-organisms. I have however mixed a lot of things into my bokashi bucket including just for fun, a little oyster mushroom spawn. Todd threw a handful into the little collection bucket that we store next to the sink to collect for the big bucket. We let the spawn go til it was pretty clear that it was colonizing the little bucket. indeed, I started to line the little bucket with wet newspaper the better to keep it going and to inoculate the waste before I transferred it to the main bucket. Typically it takes a few day to a week until the little bucket is full, or needs to be emptied because of smell or attracting things we don't like.

Anyway, I can't quite say that my method is the best. I just planted some tomatoes on top of buried bokashi, using the above method of inoculation with good stuff. I will let you know what results I have. I just think that ultimately the best stuff to make your garden grow well is probably already in your garden. Exceptions to that rule are new houses which probably have soil out of balance.

I feel that I need to add to this. I do not want to say anything that is untrue. I found a bokashi peddler that claimed that bokashi does not create ANY CO2 which is untrue. I don't think that bokashi would be the most effective mycorrhizal fungi inoculant. I actually think that a good yard of compost would be the best start. If I had a new house where the ground had been radically disturbed. I think I would spread a genuine granular mycorrhizal inoculant on my property. I'd probably start by covering all my soil with 3 inches of compost, then I'd rototil it into the top 6-12 inches, and then I'd inocculate it. I would probably also hold off on doing any major plantings for a while, perhaps I'd plant a cover crop to let the soil settle. A year later I'd do a more permanent planting.

I hope I am not overstating myself, I just do not want to advocate any snake oil, if you know what I mean. I would like to see people look locally for answers to things, I guess that's my main thing here.

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