See that black bag there between the doors? That’s my latest Bokashi experiment. Snow Bokashi…
Yep, you can see I’m getting desperate. Not just me but quite a lot of us up here in the frozen north, we have to find ways of making soil even in mid-winter. At the moment I can’t even find my hot composter under the snow. My indoor soil factories are full to bursting. And trekking over to the glasshouse through a metre of snow is beyond me. Hence this idea.
Compost in a bag. It’s a big black rubbish bag, quite thick plastic, with a standard kitchen bag clip to keep it closed. I’ve tossed in a pile of kitchen paper scraps (toilet rolls, cornflake packets, egg cartons, bits of household paper, all the usual) and a bucket of fermented Bokashi. Then another bag of paper scraps as I had a lot on hand. My idea was then to toss in a bucket or two of soil, but right now I can’t get hold of any for obvious reasons. If the snow holds until midsummer (which it certainly feels like at the moment…) I’ll go and buy a bag of potting mix and toss that in. Right now we have temps varying between -10 and -20 C most days so obviously NOTHING is going to happen in that bag other than we get a rock solid bag of Bokashi and paper. But it’s a sunny wall, and my theory is that if I go on filling the sack using the lasagne principle (bit of this bit of that) when the spring sun starts to thaw things out it will get cracking really nicely in there.
And in due course I’ll have a lovely bag of soil waiting for me outside the wood shed. Perfect for some spring planting to brighten things up!
What I’d really like to know is if this theory holds. If any of you living in warmer climes, but not too hot, would like to test it out I’d love to hear what you think. Ideally temps in the bag should be between +20 and +50 degrees C. Any hotter and the microbes will give out. Any colder and they’ll just hang around waiting. In a hot climate I guess you could do it in a shady spot, or leave the top open. As long as you have soil on the top you don’t need the bag closed, basically I’m closing it to keep the snow out and any potential heat in. A white bag could be an alternative if you live in a hot spot.
Another theory would be to put the bag right into the garden bed and build it up there. You could slit holes in the bottom to let in any curious worms. Then when the soil is ready just slit up the whole thing and let the soil flow out where you need it. Fantastic fertiliser! Any biggish bits that didn’t make it in time could always go into the next bag.
This whole idea is triggered by DS at BokashiSlope in Texas, she had a great idea a few weeks ago about doing this in paper sacks direct in the garden. The ultimate on-site soil factory — no digging, no wheelbarrowing, no nothing, it all just breaks down into fantastic soil by itself when it’s good and ready. Even the bags. Have a read of her idea, it’s just excellent: The Add-A-Bag Garden.
So what do you think? Is it worth a try? Love to hear what you think.
BTW, the mouse factor. I’m not the least worried about that although I’ll let you know. We live in the country, and this bag is right outside the woodshed so there couldn’t be a better location for a gourmet feast for post-winter starved mice. But the thing is with Bokashi that it’s so “sour” as we say here, low pH, rats and mice hate it. I did a test last winter just to be sure, put some 50l of fermented kitchen Bokashi in one of these sacks with a clip in the wood shed. Not a nibble.
But if you have bears that might be another story… Our dog Tim certainly thought there might be something interesting going on!
btw again… I took these photos before the weekend’s snow storm. Now there’s another half metre snow on the ground and I can’t see the bag any more. Getting very bored digging out the path to the wood shed…
3 thoughts on “Snow Bokashi?”
Best of luck with it, and do keep us posted! (Just for reference, when I tried paper and bokashi with neither dried leaves nor soil, it failed–but failed by my necessarily stringent standards in Texas heat isn’t reason enough not to try. Just means I have a note to try again in cooler climes and a space away from windows. So I’ll be eagerly watching for your results.)
Thanks for your encouragement! I wouldn’t expect anything to happen with the paper-bokashi only mix either, for the time being I see it as storage. The minute things start to thaw I’ll get some soil in there. Probably a shop bag for starters until I can get a spade into the ground…
I tried the paper sack idea, but using plastic grocery bags instead. When the weather warmed up, I took a bucket of fermented Bokashi that had been indoors all winter, poured everything in a plastic grocery bag, mixed it up well with some potting soil, sealed the bag, slashed the bottom a few times, and set the bag down in the garden. I then ignored this bag for at least a month. When I checked on it, the inside had transformed into what looks like very dark and moist soil, with lots of bugs in it. It looks very nutrient-rich, indeed! I can’t wait to plant in it!
My next experiment will involve using reusable grocery bags and turning them into some sort of plant container. I will cut the bottom off, put fermented Bokashi at the bottom, top with several layers of potting soil, and then plant some seeds on top of it. Do you think this will work even if the bags aren’t airtight?