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.