Tag Archives: Sustainable Agriculture

IMO aka Indigenous Micro Organisms

Last week I chronicled my first baby steps into “Natural” farming or maybe more properly “Korean Natural Farming“. I actually like the term my new favorite non-fiction book, “The Holistic Orchard” uses right in its title. Holistic . For me that word summarizes the approach I’m going to use in my orchard/garden/chicken ranch, not only looking at the whole system but investigating the whole world of agriculture practices. The goal is to keep an open mind and be inclusive not exclusive, if after thorough research I come to the conclusion that an application of petro-chemical based pesticide, herbicide or fertilizer is the right choice that option, while not being the preferred option, will be included.

Back to my funky stuff! The fungus/bacteria/yeast culturing project went off successfully. Karen did find my fungus bin but didn’t throw it out (Lorri did you snitch me out?) Your going to be spared pictures of furry, fluffy, multi colored spotted rice only because I forgot to take a picture before I processed the goo.

Rice Wash water after a week of culturing.

Rice Wash water after a week of culturing.

IMO3

Pulling out 8 ounces of serum with a turkey baster

Pulling out 8 ounces of serum with a turkey baster

The Lacto-Baccillus serum mixed with milk to grow out the preferred Lacto cultures

The Lacto-Baccillus serum mixed with milk to grow out the preferred  Lactobacillus cultures

In 2 weeks time this 80 ounces of milk inoculated with 8 ounces of Lacto-Bacillus serum should curdle and separate leaving me with a crude curd to feed to the chickens and Lacto-Baccilus rich whey to be stabilized and used in the orchard.

The funky rice mixed with brown sugar to make IMO-2

The funky rice mixed with brown sugar to make IMO-2

 

IMO-2 ready to ferment

IMO-2 ready to ferment

The IMO-2 along with the milk concoction will now go in a dark closet to ferment for a couple of weeks in preparation for stabilizing and then use.

 

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There is fungus among us

Organic Gardener, Holistic Orchardist, Sustainable Agriculture, What exactly do these terms mean? Are there rules and regulations that must be adhered to? I don’t really know nor do I really care. The “system” or “method” I practice is the one that my head puts together from resources that make sense to me. My chickens are currently being fed fodder, fermented scratch, weeds, cooked rice gleaned from a local restaurant and leftovers from the weekly cleaning of the fridge. The orchard/garden is watered with grey water from my laundry and mulched with shredded waste from local tree service companies. Why do I employ these “practices”? #1 cause I’m cheap #2 because certain aspects spark interest in my brain and finally #3 because they are effective/efficient. Happy productive chickens, healthy trees, and productive gardens is the goal and at least currently the outcome.

As has been mentioned several times lately on this blog The Holistic Orchard (fruits and berries the biologic way) by Michael Phillips has really captured my attention. Basically Mr. Phillips is advocating and trying to educate about the benefits of treating the whole orchard holistically. Focusing on the overall health of everything from the soil to the foliage in an effort to minimize the susceptibility to both pests and disease. Backyard Orchard Culture as refined and practiced for my area by the UNCE experimental orchard lends itself to embracing these holistic idea(l)s, at least in my little world. One thing that really clicked with me was the idea of “random” mulching, this is using whatever you come up with as you come up with it as mulch. Shredded paper? OK, Shredded/Chipped tree waste? OK, Straw? OK, the idea is to promote a diverse environment for beneficial bacterial and fungal soil cultures to thrive.

That brings the agenda to spring and pulsing sprays. I wish I could do more than regurgitate stuff from The Holistic Orchard but right now that’s where my knowledge is from, maybe this fall I’ll be able to make an informed and insightful blog post about all of this….we’ll see. Pulsing sprays are used to spark a “pulse” of action in the microbial world inhabiting the soil of the orchard and the bark of the trees, encouraging the beneficial ones to thrive and therefore outcompete any bad ones that come along. Ingredients recommended for this witches brew is liquid fish (are you thinking of SNL and the bass-o-matic?), cold pressed Neem oil, and EM-1. Liquid Fish was easily found and reasonably purchased from SF Organics, cold pressed Neem oil is all over E-Bay, but EM-1 proved a little tougher especially for a frugal individual. The stuff is not available locally and both of the proprietary makers apparently think this stuff is very special. I was willing to cough up the $23 SCD Probiotics wanted for a liter of this stuff but when I went to check out at their exclusive online distributor and found that shipping was going to double the price my gag reflex kicked in, likewise at Teraganix.

All of his has been leading up to my initial topic for this post……clandestine culturing of microbes. While I couldn’t find any reliable instructions for knocking off these companies products I did discover that this concept stems from Korean Natural farming techniques in general and specifically to Lacto-Bacillus/IMO culturing. Ironically it was a question asked on one of my favorite blogs, Scratch Cradle, that lead me to the answer I was looking for. Two youtube videos, Korean Natural Farming- Lacto Bacillus, and Korean Natural Farming-IMO part 1 provided me with a wealth of information about creating inoculant cultures for use in the orchard. A less detailed (there actually four parts of the IMO series) but very practical explanation can be found on IMO Farming part 1 . Following the procedures outlined in these highly informative videos has lead me to attempt to start my own cultures.

Rice Wash Water hopefully collecting and culturing Lacto Bacillus

Rice Wash Water hopefully collecting and culturing Lacto Bacillus

 

Funky rice water hopefully stored where Karen won't find it

Funky rice water hopefully stored where Karen won’t find it

1st ingredient of IMO: Forest Litter (actually dirt and mulch from the oldest section of the UNCE orchard)

1st ingredient of IMO: Forest Litter (actually dirt and mulch from the oldest section of the UNCE orchard)

2nd ingredient of IMO: hard cooked rice

2nd ingredient of IMO: hard cooked rice

IMO ingredients together: Top tray has lots of holes drilled in the bottom so that microbes can migrate to rice beneath

IMO ingredients together: Top tray has lots of holes drilled in the bottom so that microbes can migrate to rice beneath

IMO incubator hopefully located where Karen will overlook it

IMO incubator hopefully located where Karen will overlook it

Now all I have to do is let my stuff funk up and culture for a week or so then move onto the second phase of refining and fortifying the captured cultures. That process may take a little more ingenuity to keep beneath my Sweety Karen’s radar but I think I’m up to the challenge.

Oh by the way IMO stands for Indigenous Micro Organisms

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