Herrings make the best soil!

Last August a friend of mine gave me a bucket of Bokashi for my garden. And ran off. Fast.

Nothing strange about the bucket thing, she drops off her buckets all the time as her garden is much smaller than mine. So I didn’t get it. Until later.

When I read the post-it note on the lid. “Innehåller surströmming”. Contains rotten herring.


Surströmming is a Swedish specialty. One I’ve managed to avoid very successfully until now. It’s herring, basically. Preserved in a kind of fermentation process. And it stinks to high heaven. God knows how anyone could eat it.

But her husband comes from that part of the country so they’d been doing the herring thing and obviously had rather a lot left over. So I just sort of looked at the bucket for the next week before I dared to open it.


Didn’t smell. Just your average Bokashi bucket.

So I dragged the bucket along with me to a couple of harvest fairs we were at in September, a couple of workshops and diverse other sessions. Had a lot of fun watching people getting up the courage to open the lid.

The thing is Bokashi does the job every time. The stuff in your bin really won’t smell if you keep it as dry as possible.

The more interesting thing is what happened next, when I dug it down, finally, in the late autumn. That particular spot now has the best soil in the whole garden. Never seen such fat happy worms. It’s almost a bit perverse.

But now they have fat and happy leeks to compete with. A good outcome all round.

ps is it easier for you to follow this on facebook? If so, I’m posting the blogs here on bokashiworld on facebook, plus a lot of other bits and pieces that just turn up.

5 thoughts on “Herrings make the best soil!

  1. Hi, I’m into bokashi, fermentation and other natural processing for excellent soil for a couple of months now.

    I suggest you take a look at “Korean Natural Farming” for specific details about Fermented Plant Juice (FPJ), Fermented Amino Acids (FAA), Water Soluble Calcium (WSC) and Oriental Herbal Nutrients (OHN).

    The reason why the herring is doing sooooooo very good is because of the proteins. Fermented Amino Acids is made out of old fish-heads etc. After months of decomposing the proteins in brown sugar it becomes a complex amino acids formula. This formula is the very best for your bokashi friends to thrive on and continue living and exchanging nutrients in the soil with other micro-organisms.

    Korean Natural Farming is just like bokashi, the art of giving the soil all it needs by re-using garbage, waste and other materials like indigenious micro-organisms.

    Happy composting!

  2. With Korean Natural Farming methods, people use Fermented Amino Acids (FAA). This is made from waste fish-heads.

    After months of fermentation the proteins become amino acids. This complex formula of amino acids is excellent extra food for micro-organisms. That’s the reason why the herrings make the soil excellent.

    Read more upon Korean Natural Farming like Fermented Plant Juice, Oriental Herbal Nutrients and Water Soluble Calcium for more methods to re-use waste for good soil and healthy plants.

    1. Hi Aschwin, and thanks for the info! I’ll have a look at Korean Natural Farming, I didn’t realize it was different to the Japanese version which is EM-based. Fascinating how it all works, and how well we could work with nature if we only learnt a little bit more about how things hang together.
      The more good stuff we can add to our soil the better! /Jenny

      1. Well, Jenny, KNF is just like using bokashi/EM since KNF is based on indiginious micro-organisms (IMO). It uses a lot of fermentation techniques, yeasts, fungi and bacteria like lacto bacillus etc. It can be used cooperative.

        I dump my kitchen waste into the bokashi bucket. Feed that to a worm-bin after it sits for 2 weeks. In the mean while I grow mycorrhiza on rice and grow some lacto bacillus on rice wash. It’s all pretty easy, very effective and very supporting the soil food web.

        The most important is using local bacteria, local fungi, local worms and other creatures. They know how to survive in your own climate.

  3. Hi Jenny,

    I just left a note on your post about keeping contents of Bokashi dry for successful ferment.

    I thought I might also mention here that I have experienced a bucket full of seafood that I expected to smell at some stage. There was no smell as the bucket was being filled, none as it was fermenting and none when I opened it to use it.

    Amazing, but that is what we are doing. We just have to overcome our deep seated perceptions and accept it for what it is…amazing.

    Thanks for this and also thanks to Aschwin for the information for further reading. We are always learning and gaining a better understanding of how natural systems work so we can better become a useful part of ecosystems.

    Constantly in awe,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: