Thursday, June 25, 2009

Burrying Food Waste, etc.

Okay, you've fermented your food waste with EM1 bokashi in a food waste bucket. It's been fermenting about two weeks. There is a sweet/sour smell and lots of white mold growing on top of the food wastes. Now what do you do with it?

Dig a hole
pick a spot in your garden that needs some amending. A good place is in between some plants that have been there for a long time. Somewhere where the soil is getting hard or that you have not fertilized in a long time.

Start digging. A trench may be better than digging a hole deep enough to hold all the contents of the bucket. Expect to dig a foot or so deep and a couple feet long.

Dump out the bucket
Pour the contents of the bucket into the hole. Spread it out evenly.
If there is a foul odor at this point you can add some more bokashi or spray it down with Activated EM1 using a hose end sprayer or watering can.

Cover the food waste
Use the soil you dug up to cover the food waste. There should be 8-12 inches of soil to cover the food waste. Use as much soil as you can so the smell of the food waste doesn't attract any animals (wild or pets). Dogs love to dig up the food waste and eat it! It tastes yummy to them!

Out where I am in Tucson, javelina are known to come out and dig up the food waste if its not covered up enough. I have also heard from people in Texas that wild pigs or armadillos do the same thing. Some of them have covered the food waste with check wire to make it more difficult or the animals to dig up the wastes.

When can you plant in the spot?
If you covered the food waste with about 12 inches of soil, you can plant in the area immediately...assuming you are planting small translplants (plugs or up to 4oz pots) or seeds. If you plant potted plants in the soil, keep an eye on them. When the roots hit the broken down food waste you'll notice a growth spurt in the plants. It is cool to see plants shoot up. The food waste is loaded with nutrients for your plants.

Where else can I use the fermented food waste?
I am adding to my garden around the year, even when the veggies are growing I dig right around them and add food waste to the ground. Since soil is so important to plants, I always figure amending throughout the year is best. Note: You can't do this with raw food waste because it will start to breakdown....but rot. The rotting process will create gasses in the soil that are toxic to plants and kill the plants if their roots come in contact with the gasses. This is why it is not encouraged to bury raw food waste in the soil.

If you have a compost pile, you can add the fermented food waste right in the pile. Use the same rule of thumb for the amount of material to cover the food waste with...about 12 inches.

Experiment with what works best for you and your gardening routine.

If curiosity gets the best of you, wait about two weeks and dig in the area that you buried the fermented food waste to see if everything has broken down. If you're in a wet climate it should be almost completely broken down. If you're in an arid climate like the Southwest, be sure to water around the area to encourage a good environment for the microbes and worms to enter the area.

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