Waste Reduction in suburbia

Waste Reduction in suburbia

We don’t really go out of our way to save the planet, but my Mum and Dad did live through “The Great Depression”; Mum was pretty canny with the family funds while raising six children and Dad was a great producer of food from their two acre block. I was the sixth of the children, so he no longer sent produce and poultry to market, but I spent many hours avoiding the housework so happily stirring liquid manure, watering the vegies or picking peaches and plums for Mum to preserve a zillion ways. It all seems like common sense to me, so I definitely picked up a few habits and values along the way. Waste not; want not, stitch in time saves nine and all that.
Plums
I recycled when recycling wasn’t fashionable and composted when my generation were throwing everything away. We took the cardboard to the cardboard recyclers, the aluminium cans and metals to the metal recyclers, the man up that dirt road takes beer bottles and wine bottles, but they have to be sorted by colour…all seemed too easy, really.

I have also been following backyard, suburban, Permaculture principles for the past quarter of a century to create a home for my children, unproductive and productive family pets and beneficial insects as well as providing food, fun and aethetic gardens along the way. However, my pièce de résistance was a yard I have not owned for 10 years now. Much water under the bridge with a divorce, parents health needs, work, remarriage and a myriad of personal crises and ‘just life’ clouding my early clarity of purpose.

One project sometimes flows onto others and just brings your world back into focus.So, once I found Bokashi last year, there was a sudden great increase in the proportion of our rubbish that was getting recycled in our suburban home.

I already put most newspapers and cardboard aside for use in Permaculture sheet mulch gardens (lasagne, no-dig). We just put technology and chemicals aside in the garage until our local council calls a day when we can take these in. If we miss one, there will always be another soon. Batteries and printer cartridges eventually find their way to the participating shops’ recycle bins (I can’t believe we would ever just throw them in the bin; honestly us humans sometimes act like it is someone else’s responsibility to make sure the world doesn’t get contaminated).
E-Waste-Recycling-Scheme
Our council collects plastic waste, paper, cardboard, steel cans, etc in a fortnightly pick up. There is also a green waste pick up on the other fortnight, but we rarely have a lot to put out. We have been composting fairly unsuccessfully the past few years as our heart hadn’t really been in it; the dog (and the weeds) get into on-ground compost and the tumbler we bought off E-Bay just seems to take so long and gets so heavy to turn. Quite often my hubby slips a few catchers full of clippings in the ‘green bin’ just because he thinks there is way too much already. When I go to create a new garden….there is never enough.

I ressurected my wormfarm which my inexperience had let ants take over a couple of years before. It now sits happily on our back deck with a container full of water under each leg. I just fill up the containers every so often. If ants want in they’ll need to swim in. I also leave the tap on the bottom turned a little on any excess liquid can just run out into a bucket, otherwise it could flood. Some people just pull the tap out, but I think that leaves the wormfarm a little bit too open to visitors.

The week we started Bokashi, our kitchen tidy bin had nothing in it but plastic bags and cling wrap. When you do one thing, you often start to get angst about stuff that you hardly noticed before. We used to fill up a kitchen bin a couple of times a week but, all of a sudden, we had hardly a thing to put out for council collection. The plastic I was conscious of, but consciously chose to leave that project for another day.
Sign for Kitchen Bin
I got on my trusty computer and made up a sign for the lid of the bin. That was all that was needed as far as educating the family on what to do. Everyone happily plonked their scraps in the container provided and I just added them to the bucket at the end of the day, added some Bokashi bran and pressed them down to exclude air. So much easier than having a scrap bucket that can’t have bread, citrus, onions, fungus, etc and which has to get out to that compost bin or the kitchen aromas can become less than pleasant, very quickly.

So far, so good. This Bokashi idea seems to meet my initial goals and then some. Wonder if it can get any simpler or cheaper or better??

My Bokashi Beginnings – someone was a bit excited!

My Bokashi Beginnings – someone was a bit excited!

What seems like eons ago now (but was only January last year, really) … I discovered Bokashi. Here are my preliminary ramblings from back then:

I stumbled on Bokashi less than 2 weeks ago, when I googled ‘kitchen compost’ and thought I was looking for a suitable hardware item. I went from ‘what the’ to ‘wow’ over a sceptical and dizzying personal research program. The more info I found the easier, simpler and possibly cheaper it got and the limits of the benefits to gardens, communities and … the planet seem endless.

I looked at prices of ‘required’ equipment and EM-1 activated microbes (the powder you sprinkle on your scraps to commence the fermenting process – stands for Effective Microorganisms). I tried to think it through and did a bit more research. It was becoming a little daunting – with lots of online and youtube suggestions that you can add this and that, you can make your own powder in 50lb lots, etc. I just wanted something that didn’t stink in my kitchen so I could get back to not throwing out perfectly useful scraps.

Then I found http://bokashiworld.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/it-can-be-done-bringing-home-bokashi-to-your-veggie-patch/ Suddenly this was easy as: Follow simple steps and throw just about anything in. It can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. I ended up buying the commercial bucket (lets face it, my initial plan was to buy something nice-looking to keep in my kitchen also hubby encouraged me to spend the extra as I LOVE gardening), Jenny is very successful, on quite a large scale, with just a lidded bucket. Highly recommended reading!
Bokashi Bucket commercial
I chose to also buy the powder. But have recipes for making the base and activating the EM inoculant (in smaller than 50lb lots). Plenty of youtube instruction videos – you probably need to buy the inoculant to start though this goes a long, long way and is not costly (share the cost with a friend or two?). The commercial powder contains a mixture of ‘good’ microbes in a wheat bran (or similar) base. It’s light, smells just sort of fresh and is easy to use – grab a handful and sprinkle.

So far, I have had NO smells (I’m only on my first bucket remember, don’t hold me to it). It won’t be in the kitchen once it is full and going through it’s ferment stage. I will be using a normal bucket for a second bucket and sacrificing the liquid as I went crazy and re-established my previously murdered worm-farm, too. My second bucket is going on holidays and, as I don’t have to worry about a bit of paper sucking up the liquid, I’ll be collecting all the meat, vege, cheese, bread, cofee grounds, etc, etc, etc scraps from 4 families, sprinkling with Bokashi powder and bringing home. Can’t wait actually! This seems so much more user friendly than worm farms and even traditional compost where my own family would have trouble working out what to put in.

Once the scraps are fermented – in about 2 weeks, I could just dig a hole and bury it (in the yard, in the garden, in a box of soil). I will use it to get my compost pile going faster and also introduce some to the worms. I feel Bokashi just makes all the processes come together and the garden should just come alive. The fact that ferment doesn’t stink like rot is just a bonus so I can do this on the run, right where the scraps are created – in my kitchen.

There’s people doing this that don’t care for gardening, just for waste reduction – giving it to the gardener down the road or the local community garden.

Week 2 – I don’t know how I survived without Bokashi – guess I’m hooked!

In a minute, In a minute, in the meantime …

In a minute, In a minute, in the meantime …

Procrastination wake up call via Grammarly

Thank you to my facebook friend who put this pic on their profile. For some reason, I suddenly felt that it might be time for me to curtail my procrastinating activities and sally forth to infiltrate those To-Do items left unsallied to for what seems time immemorial (borrowing badly from Monty Python, and the English language in general, with irreverent apologies).

There is quite a list of procrastinations that I am guilty of – from cleaning the windows to a years worth of book-keeping, but I won’t bore you with the list.

The main item for discussion here is…well, my blog and, more specifically, blogging of my Bokashi experiences. I have been trialling and keeping records of my waste reduction, garden construction, composting and vermiculture adventures since January 2012. I signed up for my blog, but didn’t even write my first post until WordPress sent me an anniversary congratulations email.

Now, my blog is up and running and I am slowly getting a few posts together when I get a chance. However, I have not committed a word to screen about Bokashi, which is crazy when it has had such a big influence on my life.

I am one of those people that needs to always have a project and I had been a bit down (and noteably projectless) with some fairly serious personal issues, not the least of which was (is) chronic back pain. I had given way too much, to way too many (as is my way) and finally burned myself out physically, financially and spiritually. Mentally, I was finding it difficult to compose myself and just get on with. And then…..

Watch this space to see if I can actually get off my derriere, or more correctly – get onto it, and share my Bokashi story. Knowing me as I do, I’m hoping I don’t just decide to do the book-keeping and get back to this commitment after that. Problem is both involve sitting down, which isn’t great on the back, but writing will create enthusiasm in me while book-keeping will bring me a nice chunky tax refund cheque. Hmmm.

Do you procrastinate a certain something in your life???

I have a friend in Sweden, which might mean I am more aware of advances and interest in soil improvement there. I am often impressed with the news I hear.

the irresistible fleet of bicycles

Summer of Soilis a 5-week, multi-disciplinary accelerator program designed to awaken and inspire a collaborative movement to rebuild and maintain living soils. lsf-wheel

The program will include a series of hands-on soil-related Courses, an exhibition of regenerative growing practices and the 5-day Living Soil Forum for bringing conversation to action.

The Summer of Soil presents the 5-day Living Soil Forum to activate and empower people to secure a better future for our soils. Through engaging key players in the agricultural system, from producers to consumers, we seek to connect people and ideas, to create common understanding, to integrate existing initiatives, and to promote genuine, cross-sector collaboration around solutions that work to secure and restore healthy, living soils for the sake of our health, food-security and climate.

Objectives

  • Build an inclusive, global soil movement
  • Inspire concerned consumers and especially youth to become active soil stewards
  • Promote soil awareness throughout the entire agricultural system

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