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applestar
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Let's Talk EM! NEW PROJECT!! :D

OK, I got a Bokashi kitchen composter kit for Christmas, and I want to extend the bokashi before I use it up and have to BUY (oh horrors!) more. :wink: I was pretty sure I had seen a vid or page on how to do it somewhere but now I can't find it. :?

Still, it just can't be that hard. Bokashi itself is simply a mixture of wheat/rice bran, molasses, sea salt and inoculant -- usually called EM-1. This liquid inoculant is the bugger. I only need 30 ml (less than 1/4 cup) to inoculate 10 lbs of bran.

Bokashi itself is supposed to be anaerobic, and is fermented tightly sealed in as aireless environment as possible for 2~3 wks, but EM is described as MIXTURE of aerobic *and* anaerobic organisms. I found a website describing how to make EM-A -- activated EM -- from EM-1. The general description is a lot like what you do to make compost tea. Put in a jar that is not tightly sealed (use some kind of filter/airlock as in wine/beer brewing) and shake every day.

SO. HERE'S MY PLAN --
Since I already have the organisms in the existing bokashi, I'm thinking of making a mixture of molasses and warm water, put *some* bokashi in it, culture that for a while (3 days? a week?), then make up a kelp solution (I have dry kelp meal) add some more molasses and the cultured mix, and culture that for another 3 days~week. I don't know why I'm thinking 3 days~1 wk. ACT only needs to brew for 24~36 hrs.... (Oh, yeah, the EM-A recipe said brew sugared solution for 7 days then supplemented solution for 7 days, that's why.)

What do you think?

ETA: Just found an incredibly informative website here: https://eminfo.vmicrobial.info/getstarted1.html#Extension

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Sounds very interesting.. will keep an eye on this thread :D at the moment I pay about $A8 per month for the mixture.

By the way I use the Bokashi compost in my worm farm.. really works wonders.

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EM is amazing stuff; I have seen it used to knock the stink off of manure lagoons or even a good deal of the smell off of fish emulsion (and THAT's a good trick :shock: ) Any leachate should be saved like gold, AS

And yes it's great for wormbins, UW :D

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Couple of things I learned:

You can't ferment for a set period of time and just assume things are done. This is a practice where even living soil diehards should be turning to pH paper or a pen. 3.0 - 3.5 is required, below 3 is super duper. I have yet to get below 3. For bokashi, I don't measure the pH I just leave the bin shut for 3 weeks after it's full, then feed to the worm bin.

Buy the mother culture, it's worth it. As far as I know, it's all facultative anaerobes, maybe some yeasts, actinomycetes they claim are not included for some reason or another (or may not be in there? which would be a bummer), and photosynthetic bacteria called purple non-sulfur bacteria (or PNSB's - they do photosynthesize, but don't need to. check wiki for the species rhodopseudomonas (or some such) palustris (I'm sure about the palustris - latin for swamp - so just try R. palustris).

PNSB's are really amazing. They can make their own food, or they can eat, and they can fix nitrogen. Yup, that's right. Fix nitrogen.

Actinomycetes can make some aggregates in soil real fast that will make it more spongy and water retentive. They used to be misclassified as fungi, so that explains the name.

Do you need those guys for fermenting trash? No, you just need the lactic acid bacteria (LAB). If you want to culture those, there is a DIY method for getting them out of the air involving rice water and milk, and an incubator if you want it done this year (light bulb in a rubbermaid). In fermentation, higher temps mean faster ferment. That goes for making any EM brews, including ones you drink. But those "extras" in EM can do things your wild LAB can't - and maybe vice versa. I've read some reports that it's best to have the microbial consortium in EM and also allow contamination by local yeasts and bacteria.


The thing I had to dig to learn, is that facultative anaerobes like it both ways. Once there is enough fermentable material, they do their magic and manage their habitat to exclude others. Otherwise, you would have to collect all the material in one day, fill up a container, void the air, and seal it for an anoxic environment. We don't want that, we want
very low oxygen.


Back to the EM - EM (extended) is a very good thing to add to your regular compost, and after the season, to all your beds. Don't forget the lawn, all your ornamentals, houseplants, the drains in your house (works!), the dog water (bye bye dog breath), and a million other things. Are you rehabilitating soil? PNSB's are used in bio-remediation as they gobble up aromatic somethignorothers - really nasty stuff. You can undo the damage from excessive salts with this stuff as well. I am told that the best is SCD trading, but I am happy with my EM America. I'll be with this bottle for quite some time.

For 10 lbs bokashi, here is my recipe:

17.5 qts wheat/rice bran (I can't find agricultural grade rice bran)
1 TBS sea salt
3L of water (sorry for mixing labels)
30 mL EM (activated EM, not EM-1)
30 mL blackstrap molasses
a small fist of azomite or other rock powder.

If you ask my opinion, bokashi you make yourself is far superior. But that's based on getting a 2nd bucket (vital!) that came with a bag of bokashi bran. My homemade always smells the same - even when lobster prices drop and my bucket has a half dozen carcasses. The juice doesn't change. With the commercial stuff, my bucket took on a poo smell that took forever to go away, and I didn't trust the fermentation. It should smell like very sour old beer with a little tangy note.


EM-1 is for making into activated EM, not for using straight. SO that 20 dollar bottle goes a long long way. The ratio for making activated em I use is 1.5 parts EM-1 to 1 part molasses to 20 parts water. The reason I use 1.5 times the normal ratio of EM is that it ensures a good brew every time, and you can then use that brew to make even more activated EM without going back to the mother. You could pull this off a few time before it starts to become less diverse, even to the point of virtual monoculture (most likely of your local organisms).

Google Vinny Pinto, he's very informative and does not stray too far into the voodoo the EM people market like infra-red ceramic and special sea salt that costs more than beluga caviar.
Last edited by Toil on Thu Jan 14, 2010 4:39 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Toil, this is great stuff, really cool. You are hitting me where I live, Daddy-o! 8)

Actinomycetes or actinobacter? I thought the latter to be more correct, now that we know they ain't fungii. Guess there is [url=https://twistedbacteria.blogspot.com/2007/06/actinomycetes-and-actinobacteria.html]still a question there[/url]... Scientists still need things to do I guess:roll:

R. palustris is likely to turn up Swamp rose lomng before they get to microbiology (great rose by the way)... :wink:

Why can't I get the LAB out of my yogurt? Food grade culture; works great for my sourdough bread... :?

Oh yeah on the the facultatives (shut my jar of sourdough culture about an hour ago to let the LAB get back up to speed after the yeast rise. I love how all this dovetails... :D

These PNSB are intriguing; I am always looking for nitrogen fixers, and anything that eats [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polycyclic_aromatic_hydrocarbon]polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons[/url] is aces in my book (nasty stuff in oil and gas). Paul Stamets' famous Washington DOT test showed that you can make them dissappear with shitakes as well, so don't rule the fungal side out just yet... :wink:

I will do some more homework on this Vinny fellow, but thanks for the bokashi primer. Really nice stuff! :D

HG
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hah! I got some Rosa palustris off of freecyclye. My first ornamentals, and basically my first outdoor perennials (I move around a lot). Lady said they were taking over and just to come dig them out. I had a tarp, but no help. I came back pretty bloody lol. like I got a thousand TB vaccines. when i first looked at those rose hips, and I knew I was in for a painful courting but a good time later. Yay native plants that don't need your help, feed the good butterflies, and give you hips! I'm going to divide them before we move and put it all over my community garden.

yogurt - the microbes you see on the label in yogurt from the store are mostly ones added after fermentation, if I'm to believe my source. they would not normally make it. but i don't have much more of an answer.

there is a user here by the name of soil. i believe he uses a homemade culture, and he might know better than me. I just know nobody seems to get it from yogurt.

For me it's not an issue. EM is so handy, it's always there. Just hang on to your soda bottles and it's easy as pie to brew.

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Whooosh! Right over my head! :lol: I'm trying hard to keep up. :wink:
Thanks, I'll be noodling over just these posts (and the ones over on the Compost Gone Wild thread) for a little while. Will come back with questions if I can think of any. Thanks for the recipe, toil, I'll compare with the one I have to understand better. I guess I WILL be getting that Teeming with Microbes book in hopes of understanding trickling in some more (Oops, I'm reading Jeeves right now and Bertie-ism is creeping in :roll: )

Oh, I do have one question. Are you saying you HAVE to have the mother culture -- EM-1 to begin at all? I'm mostly seeing 1L or 1qt at $20+. Also how long does a bottle of EM-1 stay viable if all you need is less 30mL of EMA to make bokashi, and you only need 1.5 EM-1 to 20 parts water to make the EMA?

I'm beginning to see that there are many other uses for the EMA (I didn't even know it was considered a health drink as well) and in one video I saw, they had 4 or 5 50 gal. drums of bokashi going -- though that might have been for commercial purposes....

This is great -- I feel like I'm auditing a first-class lecture -- or more precisely, a panel discussion 8) I'll be sitting by with my (figurative) pencil poised over the notebook. :wink:

Oh! One other thing -- I'm tending to think put the used paper towels in the vermicompost rather than the bokashi bucket -- is that right? And did you say you put lobster carcass -- shells? -- in your bokashi? We just had some Alaskan King Crabs last night....

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Shells add chitin and chitin-eating bacteria are a great natural check on insect issues, as well as just a good bacteria for growing Lobster and king crab are pretty substantial shells, so take FOREVER to break down; mash 'em up good with a mallet or something. I like shrimp shells better as they break down and in faster...

Not sure about the EM/bokashi, but worms LOVE paper. Just make sure it's not the towels with the nylon threads in it...

AS, toil is teaching me stuff on EM and bokashi, so you are definitely auditing a mid-level class anyway; I'm pretty solid on the 101 stuff... :lol:

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hey, if any of this stuff is too technical, I can find links that explain better. Wikipedia is pretty good on non-contentious stuff. It's a good idea to verify everything I say. Something is bound to be wrong or misleading.

EM-1 lasts quite a long time. I don't think a shelf life is listed, but every time you extend it, you smell. Your nose will tell you if it's still good, and you can confirm with pH paper if in doubt. As far as I know, the right pH is an absolute indication that it is good. If it goes off, the pH will rise. I know mine is alive, as I can see little white things floating around that were not there before (it's normal). Living things last - until they die.

You are correct, it is ridiculously cheap when you work out how much you can use. I have no qualms about spraying our 75 x 75 community veggie patch with my own supply, other than laziness.

Can you just use the juice from the bucket? I don't know. Could you grow out a culture from the bran? seems logical to me. If you feel like experimenting, go for it! I would gently suggest though, that 20$ for a bottle of EM-1 is the least you will ever spend on a commercial product with so many uses and benefits.

If you are going to DIY, ask soil. I'm just an end-user and a layperson.

HG, which towels have the nylon? I'll remember to avoid those.

the good thing about my bokashi bran recipe is that it's in volume, not weight. it took me forever to find out how much approx. volume 10 pounds of bran has. I was really stressed out! Who has a scale at home that will do this?

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All the ones that tout how non-destructible they are; I'd rather not name names, just know if it isn't supposed to fall apart, it probably ain't great for composting. Know what I mean? :wink:

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You can't ferment for a set period of time and just assume things are done. This is a practice where even living soil diehards should be turning to pH paper or a pen. 3.0 - 3.5 is required, below 3 is super duper. I have yet to get below 3.
Propitiously, a few days ago, I let DD wear my other winter jacket that I hadn't worn yet this year, and she found in its pocket the package of litmus papers that I KNEW I'd purchased but had misplaced. :D

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FWIW -- my EMA ... well, I realized it should be AEM (Activated EM), but I still like EMA better.... is doing the slow bubble. After a week, I added some black hooch from the top of the sourdough starter I dug out of the fridge, some molasses water, and whey off the top of Trader Joe's Organic Plain European Style Yogurt, as well as a pinch of sea salt. Bit of Oyster Mushroom substrate reviving soak water. Then added some more good/active sourdough starter hooch yesterday. Hopefully that wasn't too much hooch and alcohol.

-- Oh wait! I never posted that I started it did I? Well, that was a couple of weeks ago. Equal amounts of Bokashi and molasses by weight + boiled rainwater, and a pinch of sea salt and DE. Been keeping the bottle in one of those 5 gal orange thermal beverage dispensers filled 2/3 to the top of the bottle with med-hot water. Initially changed the water, cooled to cold, twice a day, then every 24 hrs. Then 48 hrs. (No reason for the schedule, just whenever I remembered it :>)

Am planning to check pH a little later on. If it's good, then I guess I'll mix it up with wheat bran and a bit more molasses -- I've been holding off on this step for a week since I bought that giant bag of bran (it's still in the back of the car!) Only size I could get. But it wasn't doing the slow bubble thing a week ago, so I'm thinking it's in a better condition now. By slow bubble, I mean that, as I watch, a tiny bubble comes up from the bottom every second or so. If I stir it all up by swirling the bottle and bring up the sediment layer, it goes into a full bubble and makes a bit of foam at the top. sure looks like it's **ALIVE** :bouncey: Changed the water again for now.

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VERY cool, AS...

8)

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are you giving it light?
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Ah, I was wondering about that. Initially, I read that some said light! lots of light! and others say like 3rd day, and yet others say no light necessary. Then I forgot all about it. :oops: So no, it's mostly been in the dark except when I take it out to examine it and swirl it, and croon over it :wink: and change the water and all that. I was going to leave it out in the sun the NEXT morning a couple of times, but well, first time I thought to do that, it snowed the next day, ... and so on, so I forgot. :roll: Yesterday, I was thinking I *could* put it in my new Mushroom Room but then was concerned about contams to either culture, and decided to think on it some more, so it's still in the dark. Bad?

I was thinking I could add another TBS or so of bokashi and put it out in the light if necessary.... (this is getting way past precise measurements though :roll: )

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It's interesting that you started this thread because I have been reseaching EM for about two weeks now. I read a post on another site where a person was making KWAS/KVAS and comparing it to EM as a means of producing your own mother culture instead of buying it.

KVAS is the base for sourdough bread. Anyway, I started reasearching the benefits of EM and bokashi and compared it to Kvas and compost tea.

Needless to say this is very exciting to me. I found two recipes online to make your own mother culture of EM( time consuming) and I have made two bottles of KVAS and I have been testing it around the house.

I haven't used it on plants yet but it has worked on elimination bad smells from our dog and the sink drain.( see benifits of EM in household and environment)

I want to do a test run of my own mother culture and compare it to the one you purchase and I also will be adding those microorganisms to my garden and my compost tea this year.
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It's a bit confusing because all EM contains lots of lactobacillus.

But EM is supposed to be more than that.

That said, most of the practical benefits and uses of EM can be had from a lactobacillus serum made with not too much effort in the home.

I drink the stuff, so I try hard to get it right.
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Sorry to nudge, toil, but I know sometimes last post on the 1st page gets overlooked, so in case you didn't see it ... do you think I *should* add some bokashi and expose the bottle to light? How much?

Kimbledawn, welcome to the club! :() Keep us updated on your progress. We'll compare notes! :wink:

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Kvas, soudough, EM, AEM...

A rose buy N E other name...

Pickles is pickles... :wink:

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applestar wrote:Ah, I was wondering about that. Initially, I read that some said light! lots of light! and others say like 3rd day, and yet others say no light necessary. Then I forgot all about it. :oops: So no, it's mostly been in the dark except when I take it out to examine it and swirl it, and croon over it :wink: and change the water and all that. I was going to leave it out in the sun the NEXT morning a couple of times, but well, first time I thought to do that, it snowed the next day, ... and so on, so I forgot. :roll: Yesterday, I was thinking I *could* put it in my new Mushroom Room but then was concerned about contams to either culture, and decided to think on it some more, so it's still in the dark. Bad?

I was thinking I could add another TBS or so of bokashi and put it out in the light if necessary.... (this is getting way past precise measurements though :roll: )
overthinking! by bokashi, do you mean EM-1? Your brew will be fine. Just get it down to a pH of at least 3.5 The reason for the light is to encourage photosynthetic bacteria to reproduce. It's not a big deal really, just get some successful brews, then tinker with it when it will actually give you pleasure to do so. At first, KISS. In my brew for ingesting, I add some more EM-1 after it settles, and some food too. It gets super duper strong. I used grape juice, rice bran, and azomite this last batch, and it is grapey but bright and dry with a clean finish.


HG, I sort of agree. EM is supposed to be a consortium consisting of certain functional groups that clean up each other's messes. I am still not educated enough to explain that well or understand it.

You won't find phototrophic bacteria like R. Palustris in any sourdough, or wild cultures, and probably not Bacillus subtilus either.
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Well, I may get to the point of drinking the stuff, but for now, I'm still in the rough extended EM (or) activated EM (or) EM activated brew concocting phase, the primary purpose of which is to generate my own "bokashi" as in the dried stuff that comes with bokashi composter WITHOUT first getting the mother EM-1.

While the internet abounds with instructions for doing it in the straightforward manner, EM-1 --> EMA --> bokashi, I was hoping to revive and cumulatively grow what is in the dried bokashi until I had sufficient activity going to ferment kitchen scraps, period. So even if EM-1 originally comes with phototropic BM, in the end use inside the bokashi bucket, they rarely see the light. In fact, the instructions for culturing your own bokashi from EMA, molasses, salt+mineral/clay/whatnot, water, and bran always exclude air and most of the light. One guy was making them in metal drums, the other one in a translucent storage tub, but top of the bran mixture was covered with black plastic and I don't think he said to keep it in a bright location, in fact he might've said to keep it someplace dark (I'll have to go back and check.)

But EM-1 -> EMA instructions generally say exposure to light, and I believe the Japanese method is always lots of light. Hence my confusion. :? Maybe the phototropics keep down, destroy, or eliminate the baddies? (In which case, it may be too late for my current batch... :| )

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Exposure to light would favor phototrophs and wack most everybody else, so it would reason you could expose it to light now and rectify things.Toil, what do you think?

(And I was just being ornery about the pickles; I know the store bought brand has got extra goodies, I've used it). :wink:

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Oh, another thought:

With bokashi, they say that for long-term storage it's best to dry it. Faster dry time the better they said. And there was a video of how they dry the metal drum-ful of bokashi, raked and spread out on a tarp, in the sun. That seemed a little odd to me since I thought the UV as well as the extreme heat would be detrimental to the BM?

It might also indicate that the BM in dried bokashi would be far gone and a pale shadow of EM-1. On the other hand, if I can revive them to a decent level of activity, then using freshly cultured bokashi, undried, would more than suffice to pickle kitchen scraps?

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Here's where I get confused guys. Apparently R. Palustris (in my EM, yours may be different) is able to make it's own food from light and CO2, and also able to eat stuff with or without needing light or even CO2. It has four distinct metabolic possibilities, as opposed to your one. :shock: How can I even begin to predict how these bad boys work? The more I learn, the more confused I am.

So should I go with the accepted practice?

Apple, if the liquid smells ok, and goes down to 3.5, I bet you it will make bokashi. I really wood buy a bottle though, and if it's just for bokashi, get the agricultural grade mother.

HG, you might be ornery but you are really damn close to the truth. There is much exaggeration from the EM camp. Hard to sort it out.


you can definitely use fresh bokashi. Drying is for storage, and if you have liquid or wet scraps it's nice to be able to sop it up.

I dry my bokashi in the attic.
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R. palustris is swamp rose in my book, toil (adding to the confusion).

Can you get me a genus?

And yeah, I think it's mostly about the lactobacillus, gut reaction... but this other swamp bug you are talking about is fascinating. DO tell more...

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Rhodopseudomonas palustris.

It's one of the purple nonsulfur bacteria. The genus has been nicely described in a wiki created by some students.

[url]https://microbewiki.kenyon.edu/index.php/Rhodopseudomonas[/url]
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Excellent link, toil! Nice!

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;)


I'm no chemist, but the diagram on the microbe wiki shows that both light powered metabolic approaches use N2. In other words, nitrogen fixing!

And when I looked into legumes, I found out those bacteria are facultative anaerobes as well! The whole point of growing those bacterial nodes is to create little anaerobic pockets for them to live. Cool!
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The side of the nitrogen fixing bacteria that we all seem to forget is that bacteria are really stingy with nitrogen (that 5:1 C:N ratio is really low, so very nitrogen intense).

So until the bacteria die, they give up very little excess nitrogen (just enough for the plant they live in really). So the secret to releasing all that stored nitrogen?

They must die. :evil:

So if you don't start to outcompete the nitrogen fixing plant, or mow it down or do something that rots that root system down, the nitrogen there is POTENTIAL energy, but not helping us out just yet.

toil, the palustris at the end tells me this is a swamp dweller; how much you want to bet we could find this genus in any good rich swamp muck? In any stretch, it is a fascinating organism and one I would be happy to have in my pile or soil under any circumstances

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yeah, seems to me "palustris", other than meaning swamp, seems to imply that an organism is tough as nails and can live anywhere. Sun, no sun. Wet feet, drought. whatever.
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:clap: It looks good :clap:
!! More than 3 but also definitely less than 4 !!
(I have to get narrower range pH papers -- currently working with the LEAST expensive [url=https://scientificsonline.com/product.asp_Q_pn_E_3021313]Edmund Scientific litmus testers[/url] that I got even cheaper on sale. :wink: )

Not bubbling today, so I think it's time. (Smells good too, toil) I'll also mix a significant amount of dry bokashi in with the new mix just to be sure of sufficient inoculation. :D

Verified with a commercial Organic Apple Cider Vinegar -- approx. same color, maybe a bit pinker (more acid) than the EMA.

Did a backup verification with soil tester, filling the test chamber 1/2 full with EMA to compensate for the liquid nature of substance and got a darker color than the red-orange 4.5 which is lowest that the indicator shows.

Am going ahead. :()

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so how is it coming?
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applestar
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Ack! Somehow it slipped my mind that this is the 21st day! :roll:
I'll open it tomorrow and take a whiff... er... peek. :wink:

It's been worrying me, though, because I haven't felt any discernible heat coming from the bucket. The Bokashi compost is always warm when I open it to add stuff, and I was hoping to be able to feel my home made bokashi cooking :?: (Well, I just tried touching the Bokashi composter bucket from outside and it doesn't feel warm either, so maybe it was just something that I *thought* I should be able to feel....) I didn't want to open it before it was was time and mess it up somehow (temp, air, etc.)

In a perfect world, I would've mixed up another bucketful -- I intended to, but I think I'm scattering myself (and my brains 8) ) too thin -- it completely slipped my mind. :?

Toil
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hmmm your bokashi should not be giving off heat. lactic acid fermentation doesn't do that as far as I know, or at least not enough to notice. Actually, the problem is keeping the temps up if anything. Everything about EM is way faster at 90F.

21 days is no big deal.

my brother just spoiled a batch of bran. he tried to dry it improperly and it took on a foot odor. So i'll remind you too: you have to lay it out thin on a tarp to dry it. otherwise it's like leaving a wet beach towel in your trunk in a bag.
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applestar
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Aaaand it SMELLS delicious! :D

... although... the top surface is a bit drier on the surface than expected, and it doesn't smell as STRONG as I expected. Still has the pickled bokashi smell, however.

At this point, should I try spraying the top with warm boiled water, or should I just concentrate on drying it? I think I'll be doing this in small batches over the next week or two -- I don't think I can dump out the entire bucket.

Toil
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i do it in the attic...

Yeah, go ahead and do it in batches, but seal it up good. I would not spray anything on anything.

I love the smell too. It's just so nice. My "flavor notes" would be dough, distant cheese, and maybe an empty beer.
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applestar
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Thanks, toil. I'll get drying! :()

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applestar
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Lunacy posted a link to an interesting site here:
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=122859#122859

Dixana
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I actually did read this thread before applestar......but it all pretty much goes way over my head :( :oops:
Can someone better explain where I get/how I would make the EM/EM1? I'm also gonna have a bugger of a time converting metric......

Toil
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doh!

I answered on your thread. can we merge the two somehow?
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