Bokashi garden

Watch my tomatoes grow!

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Gabriel the gardening angel (great name!) is growing tomatoes, and you can see here how she’s comparing the healthiness of a couple of her plants — Tomato with Bokashi and Tomato without Bokashi. (Sounds almost like something on the menu of a flash café. Or the title of a still life painting…)

Tomato-with-Bokashi has got greener, healthier leaves than Tomato-without-Bokashi. Stands to reason, feed anything well — your kids, their pets, your neighbour’s cat — and they’ll grow better. Most of what “we gardeners” do is not terribly scientific: you do something, it works, so you do more of it. You do something, it fails, you change it a bit till it works. Far more fun than looking stuff up in books and probably, in the bottom, quite scientific in its own experimental way.

So Gabrielle is feeding the other tomatoes so they can catch up. (So much for a control experiment!). As she says, Bokashi is strong stuff and is best added from the side so you don’t knock the plants over with an acidic overdose. (They won’t thank you for the acid as I can confirm, having decked a number of seedlings this spring in the name of Bokashi, eh-hm, science.) But feed them from the side and they’ll love it — the soil can take up the nutrition, neutralise the pH, and by the time the tomato roots find their way in the tables will be laid and the plants will be in for a banquet.

Well, must say I envy you who can can grow tomatoes outdoors. Here it’s a greenhouse business unless you’ve got a really warm and sheltered courtyard. Luckily I have a greenhouse (moved piece by painstaking piece from a neighbour who didn’t want it) and have a bunch of very happy tomatoes and cucumbers growing in there at the moment. Each and every one planted in Bokashi soil, roughly a 20-30% mix with normal potting mix in a black plastic bucket. I keep them topped with fresh grass clippings to cut moisture loss and keep the nitrogen flowing. So honestly, I can’t say I know exactly why they’re doing so well — is it the Bokashi, the grass clippings, or the fantastically hot summer we’ve had so far? But in my not-so-scientific way I’m pretty sure it’s the Bokashi. They’ve never grown this well before.

And for me, the very curious very unscientifc gardener, that’s more than good enough!

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