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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lactobacillus Cultures on the newspaper

This is the result of the recipy that called for 1 part lactobacillus serum to 1 part molasses to 6 parts water.
Here is the result of the recipe that called for 6 parts lactobacillus serum to 1 part molasses. You can see visible cultures of the bacteria.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Housing the Bokashi

Choosing the right size for a bokashi compost is completely dependent on the environment that it will be placed in. It's important to take into account how much food waste on average is produced, and how much space is available for the compost bin itself. The only limitation is that the container must be anaerobic (no oxygen) to house the bokashi process. I'm going to be living with 6 other people next year, so I figured a standard 18 gallon rubbermaid would do the trick. 2-5 gallon paint buckets are most often used.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Transferring Lactobacillus to Newspaper

The next step is to transfer the lactobacillus serum to newspaper. I used two different recipes and methods to do this.

The first recipe was given to me by my teacher and it calls for 6 parts lactobacillus serum to 1 part molasses. This recipe requires a lot of lactobacillus, so I only made 2 batches from this mixture. I also used much thicker newspaper in this recipe. The thicker newspaper has to be soaked longer, and I'm hoping that I will be able to rip them into smaller pieces when they are dry.

The second recipe I got from bokashicomposting, and it called for 1 part lactobacillus serum to 1 part molasses to 6 parts water. Since this recipe required much less lactobacillus I decided to make the remainder of my batches with this recipe. I also did the soaking process a bit different. For these batches I soaked smaller individual newspaper pieces. This took much longer, but in the end I think it will be worth it.

After the newspaper has soaked for a while I took it out and drained all the excess liquid out of it . I then placed the newspaper in a large plastic bag and squeezed out all of the air out before sealing it. The next step is to let it sit for 10-20 days in a cool area. I'm currently on day six, so I have a while to go.

Preparing the Lactobacillus

The tub above is what the mixture looks like after the 2 weeks. There should be a good amount of solid material floating on the top.

The next step was to strain out all of the solids in the mixture. I started with a spoon, but eventually found that a pasta strainer works better. At this point, the mixture should be a diluted yellow color, and free from any large particles. (It will be stinky)

Making Lactobacillus

I started my lactobacillus cultures with the instructions found on Bokashicomposting. This was the process.

I started by mixing 1 part rice to 2 parts water in a mason jar. I shook up the contents for a few minutes to get all the sugar off of the rice. I then drained out all the solids and was left with a half filled mason jar with a cloudy watery mixture. I then let the jar sit for 8 days in a shady location. After the 8 days I moved the serum to a larger container and added 10 parts milk to the mixture. I then allowed it to sit for approximately 2 weeks. (This first batch of rice water mixture on the left developed mold and had to be thrown out. The mold developed as a result of forgetting to cover the top of the mixture. My second batch was made with a rice water mixture that was covered with a light fabric top)

Friday, May 28, 2010

What is Bokashi?

Translated from the Japanese language, the term bokashi means "fermented organic matter". The process of Bokashi composting reflects its definition in the sense that it uses anaerobic fermentation to break down organic matter. The fermentation process occurs through the use of effective microorganism (EM) which were discovered by Dr. Teruo Higa of Okinawa, Japan in the 1970s. Now a days EM can be bought at local gardening stores. The EM sold in stores consist of a blend of over 80 microorganisms that aid in the decomposition process of organic matter. Of these microorganisms, lactobacillus, yeast, and phototrophic bacteria play the largest roles in the fermentation process.

Lactobacillus is present in many consumer food products, a few examples are yogurt, cheese, beer, wine, along with other fermented products. Lactobacillus is the primary fermenting microorganism in the bokashi process. Lactobacillus is a strong sterilizing compound that suppresses harmful microorganisms while also enhancing the decomposition of organic matter.

Yeast is the alcoholic fermenter, and its job is to synthesize useful substances.

Phototrophic bacteria such as Purple non-sulfur bacteria (Rhodospirillaceae) grows onto the yeast and accelerates decomposition.

Why Compost?

On average, Americans produce 4 pounds of waste per day. If you multiply that amount by our population of 307,006,550 you end up with 1,228,026,200 pounds of waste per day. The vast majority of this waste will end up in a landfills. According to the EPA 26% of this waste could be composted. Along with recycling, waste could be brought down to a fraction of its current amount. Less waste into landfills results in less environmental damage. Also all the free space that could be freed up by composting practices could postpone the predicted full capacity dates that are approaching for many facilities. Honestly would you prefer a foul polluted landfill in your backyard, or a beautiful aromatic flower garden? The choice is an easy one.

Besides the obvious advantage of reducing waste, compost is important for its abundance of nutrients. Compost helps neutralize alkaline and acidic soils to the correct PH amount, this results in a larger amount nutrients that can be synthesized by the plant. Compost also helps by replacing the chemical fertilizers that cause a great deal of environmental damage through their production process, and their application.