A huge thank you to Rainier Valley Food Bank (@rainiervalleyfb) and Bike Works (@bikeworks206) for ending their Urban Ag Bike Tour at the Beacon Food Forest. These bike tours are a great way to highlight the incredible food production sites going on here in Southeast Seattle and how these partnerships have fostered a local food system for the RVFB. We couldn't go without thanking Liz Davis (@deflorawalks ) for preparing a delicious meal for all us cyclists, using the greens from our Helix Giving Garden for the delicious salad. There is one more bike tour next month – check in with the RVFB to see if any openings are available.
As my entire excuse for procrastination (here, at least) is that I only want to give information that is tried and tested, I thought I better give an update on my Tamarillo Chutney.
I left the chutney for three months to allow the flavours to mellow (as is, apparently, the golden rule of Chutney making).
The results: we are very happy with the easy to eat, quite sweet, fruity chutney. Today we had a little platter of crackers, homemade rocket pesto, creamed cheese with chives and sundried tomatoes, sliced cornbeef, cucumber and tomato with a small dish of this chutney. Lovely family moment. Oops, forgot to take a pic for you, sorry.
Can’t wait until the Tamarillo Tree fruits again so I can make a bigger batch of chutney (and of that amazing jam)
This is a brilliant record of a community garden from woe to go. I am hoping to do something similar for Equilibrium Future Solutions amazing Natural Gardens which we have enjoyed watching emerge from nothingness.
A sunny warm San Francisco Saturday unfolded like a picnic blanket on the grass at Dolores Park.
Today’s main event was a Alice in Wonderland themed tea party fundraiser for the Please Touch Community Garden, a creative space that was founded by one of my dearest friends, GK Callahan, artist and MFA student at the California College of the Arts.
I can still remember in January 2010, when GK and I, were vacationing in Mexico, and he received the news that he had the green light to plant this seed of a project. His vision was expansive- to turn a run down, needle-strewn vacant lot across the street from City Hall, into a community garden, when everyone, including the blind community from the LightHouse for the Blind across the street could come and enjoy the sun.
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I was once the young Mum just trying everything that I could in the cooking field. I got on the jam project (due to my first Tamarillo Tree fruiting) around the same time as the school fete so I went berserk bottling jams and marmalades of all types. I had people donating Seville oranges or lemons or other fruits and I just cooked up whatever I could find recipes interesting for. I even incorporated my other interests at the time and made homemade paper for tags and spray stencilled the school emblem on them (I had been using spray stencilling for decorating children’s cakes). Lots of fun.
I don’t know if I had a computer or the internet, but I know I wants very savvy at the time. I went to the library, got out a good old book and copied out the recipes (guess funds must have been low, too).
However, years and two house moves later, I have no idea where those recipes went. I always like the tried and true recipes, either getting a recipe from someone after tasting their efforts or, at least, knowing they have an idea what they are doing in the kitchen.
So, when my new Tamarillo tree fruited (just as excited as I was the first time), I headed into the many internet sites that I have found I can trust to deliver good recipes. However, not many of them had the recipes I was looking for and my yearning for knowledge on the subject had me wandering here and there across the ether in search of tips and clues about all things bottling (canning, preserving…whatever you want to call it)
One site I thought you might like is 365 Days of Creative Canning. I haven’t made a lot of the recipes, but they challenged themselves to ‘canning’ something every single day for a year and have recently SUCCESSFULLY finished that challenge. That’s big in the knowing a bit about it stakes. I got a lot of know how and answers to silly questions which helped sort out some recipes that I liked the look of but that didn’t supply the vital basic information.
The blog tab has articles such as Canning 101 – Mastering Marmalades; How to use a Water Bath Canner (I don’t use one of these as I like doing small batches and manage fine without, but just thought you might like to know the sort of info available).
I just think you gotta learn a lot if you do that much preserving and they share oodles of info and lots of recipes to inspire and motivate.
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.
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).
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.
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??
I am only starting Bokashi composting, but may eventually want to know and decide for myself what mix of micro-organisms is most beneficial or needed. Also, for small scale use, financial constraints often mean avoiding the commercial and developing ways to make or create products.
My vague and naive ideas around the concepts of Bokashi are that some understanding of what should go in to the initial ferment (so the end product is most productive for the intended purpose) would be best.
I will research more before I think I know it all.
My interests (those which I feel may be enhanced by application of Bokashi method, should my experience bear out it’s usefulness) are, in no particular order:
Building soils (to feed my plants and my family);
Broadening uses – neighbours, offices, community gardens, town policies, cities, etc;
I feel the greatest practical understanding is with the few (in this case scientists, farmers and people on the land) but the greatest resource is in heavily populated areas where waste is created and literally going ‘to waste’ (not to mention pollution and disease). I see two basic benefits of suburban Bokashi: less waste; and the end product of that waste reduction. A very large bonus benefit is that cities might have less impact and more respect for rural communities, farmers and natural systems.
Other than the uses by farmers for broadscale food production, there are people/organisations concentrating on specific medium and small uses. For example, town councils and authorities are bringing in a range of diverse methods to clean up and break down all types of problems and stockpiled wastes. This is a great benefit to our lifestyles and maybe to slow up damage to natural systems. On the other hand, some individuals want to do a little to help the environment, but might not be interested in soil, gardening, farming or the science behind these; just the solution to their own problem.
Some people are doing kitchen Bokashi, just to get rid of rubbish or because it doesn’t stink, and maybe even just passing the ferment to others for use.
Would be strange to see resources spreading out of cities instead of being sucked into them. That is but a dream, but I am impressed that such world replenishing techniques are easy, available and acceptable to so many across the world.
Well, these are the sorts of thoughts I had back in February 2012. I am pleased to say that most of my initial views on Bokashi have not been changed by my experiences with it. My endless hours of research gave me much depth of information (along with some supreme shallowness and misinformation which needed to be weeded out of the formation of my basic ideas about the concept).
I found complicated methodology and big noting yardy-yar which near did my head in. I don’t know how my poor husband survived the heady days when I would spend hours researching and then had to spill it all out into the open air, which he sadly inhabited – poor man. Once spoken, it doesn’t take long to realise what things are unnecessary or just don’t make sense. My conceptual brain has a tendency to get completely bogged down in the details until I reach the point where I can just cut through the BS and explain the topic in layman’s terms.
The notes above are a prime example of me in the learning curve stage. I do get more down to earth; let’s face it, Bokashi is just that – DOWN TO EARTH!
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!
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!