Fermented Plant Juice

Korean Natural Farming- “FPJ”

“FPJ”: Fermented Plant Juice

Fermented Plant Juice is a fermentation process in which harvested fast growing plants are mixed with brown sugar to extract the plant materials. This creates an “input” that will be used on plants as a foliar spray that can be sprayed onto garden beds for plant and soil health.

Plants selected for the FPJ should be rapid, hardy growers. Best to avoid woody plants as they do not contain the nutrients to extract. Think leafy green. Before sunrise the plant is in respiration mode. After sunrise it is in photosynthetic mode therefor it is required that the harvesting of your plant should be done before sunrise to capture the desired nutrients. Also do not rinse the plants once collected. This will keep all healthy microbe activity to pass on to your fermentation process and increase the FPJ’s value. Select vibrant, healthy plants when harvesting. The plant we are using for FPJ is Comfrey. Comfrey is a fast growing plant producing huge amounts of leaves.

Supplies Needed:

-Selected Plant

-Brown Sugar

-2 Buckets

-Brick or large stone for weight

-Cheese cloth and string

-Gloves

-Jar

-Small bucket with air lock

Recipe:

-Harvest Comfrey leaves before sunrise, preferably in the dark. Cut off the tops of the plant leaving about 2 inches left above the soil. Select only healthy, vibrant leaves. Compost any leaves that you do not select.

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– Add estimated equal amount in weight of brown sugar to comfrey leaves in 5 gallon bucket

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– Mix brown sugar into comfrey leaves with hands (gloves). Massage the brown sugar into the comfrey until all the leaves are well saturated. Comfrey leaves will shrink down to a fraction of it’s original size.

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-Place second bucket on top of comfrey and place brick or large stone inside bucket to serve as a weight for 24 hours. Second bucket compresses the comfrey down to create a compact environment for the brown sugar to extract the moisture from the comfrey leaves. In addition the buckets should be placed in the middle of a shallow container of water to keep fire ants (if you live in the jungle) from infesting the brown sugar mixture.

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-After 24 hours of the compression, removed weighted bucket and put cheese cloth with string over fermenting comfrey. Placed a container lid lightly on top to keep rain out or keep in a very dry, shaded area. Also keep fermenting bucket in shallow container of water to keep the fire ants out.

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-It is also beneficial to rotate and swish the bucket regularly (without taking the cheese cloth off) to mix and move the contents inside. This helps assist keeping undesired mold from forming on top of the comfrey.

-Let the contents ferment for a few weeks. I am desiring most of the brown sugar to be fermented off so that the final liquid is not too sweet containing too much sugar. If there is a lot of sugar remaining from the fermentation process, the fire ants will swarm the plants immediately after spraying the “input” onto the leaves (welcome to the jungle!).

-After fermentation process is complete, gently pour the fermented plant juice out of bucket into new jar. (comfrey matter should be composted)

*NOTE: There most likely will be mold on top of comfrey plants that are not submerged in the fermented liquid.  This is normal and no need to worry.  Everything is correct.  Just hold back the comfrey leaves and mold that are found on top while slowly pouring out (into a new container) the liquid that has been fermented (“FPJ”) from the bottom. 

-This would be the same for any typical fermenting process of any matter: when the matter is not protected in the juices (an anaerobic environment), the top matter that is exposed to the air (aerobic environment) will form this type of harmless mold.  The matter below in the fermented juices and the juices at the bottom are alive and healthy, full of all the micro-organisms and probiotics ready to go to work.

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-Strain FPJ into new container with cheese cloth to remove any remaining particles.

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-For long term storage you can mix the FPJ 1:1 ratio with brown sugar or molasses. The FPJ should now be stored in a plastic food grade container with lid and air lock. The contents produces gas so without an airlock the container will expand/explode.

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Usage:

FPJ is diluted with non-chlorinated water in a 1:500 to 1:1000 (FPJ:Water) ratio. This input is used as a foliar spray and on garden beds. Spraying should be done before sunrise. FPJ can be mixed with other inputs at the time of spraying however needs to be stored separately.

Permaculture Design Course

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I compleated my Permaculture Design Certification this last weekend at a near by permaculture community/farm here on the big island. When I finished my Recycling, Resourse Management, & Zero Waste certification back at Santa Monica Collage, the one word I can say to wrap up that course was “Signs”. Yes, there was much more involved in the whole course and process however if you can say one word about Resourse Management it would be- “Signs”. Make lots of them and put them on lots of containers to source separate your (waste) resources.
So now I have completed the Permaculture Design Course and if I could also walk away describing it in one word it would be “Observe”… and of course there is also more to it. At it’s core however, you will be left with one word- “Observe”.   The magic in observing comes when it is not accompanied with your opinion. There is no why.  There is no how. Their is no “the tree has yellow leaves because it’s lacking nutrients”, there is only “the tree has yellow leaves.”
In the spirit of observation I leave you with a passage from a book I am reading: “Jitterbug Perfume”, by Tom Robbins.
“Bones are patient. Bones never tire nor do they run away. When you come upon a man who has been dead many years, his bones will still be lying there, in place, content, patiently waiting, but his flesh will have gotten up and left him. Water is like flesh. Water will not stand still. It is always off to somewhere else; restless, talkative, and curious. Even water in a covered jar will disappear in time. Flesh is water. Stones are like bones. Satisfied. Patient. Dependable.”

LACTOBACILLUS: Microorganisms lead the way…

Korean Natural Farming teaches us practices in organic farming. Effective Microorganisms clean up foul odors, support sustainable farming practices, and works with compost and waste management. The bacteria we will be mainly working with is called Lactobacillus.
Lactobacillus- also know as Lactic Acid Bacteria and is abbreviated “LAB”.
LAB contains bacteria that converts lactos and other sugars into lactic acid from the end product of a carbohydrate anaerobic fermentation.
In KNF it is taught to make a simple Lactobacillus serum using rice, water, milk, and molasses. The procedure is quite simple and a lot of fun. There are many uses of the LAB once you have made it.  I am going to use it first for cleaning up the current waste management area and see if I can get rid of some of those flys!  I will also be spraying it on our gardens as a folier spray and adding it to our compost piles to assist in composting. Here’s how to make it:

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The Birth of Confessions From The Soil

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Arriving on The Big Island of Hawaii, I landed at an oceanside retreat center/ intentional community. There are currently 130 volunteers that run the center. Most of us live in tents in the jungle. That is where I live.
We live on some of the newest land on this earth.  Volcanic rock made from the near by active volcano, and the spirit of the volcano- “Pele”.  Pele runs the show here. She is the creator and the destroyer.  Respect towards Pele in her domain is of top priority in this land. She can bring you the most beautiful gifts in her jungle- or test you with the worst. Both are the same, both are sacred.
A week after arriving here in the land of Pele, a permaculture department was formed for the retreat center. I received the position in the department to develop and implement the Korean Natural Farming systems for the “Living Soil Production”.
Pele had indeed called me forth to work in the land made of volcanic rock. The community is desiring to grow more of  it’s own food.  To grow food you need soil. The land is hundreds of years away from being soil. This land is just now in it’s first growth of jungle, beneath is pure volcantic rock.
My background solidified this position for me  having studied Recycling, Resource Management, and Zero Waste at Santa Monica collage in California. I focused on organic resource management: vermicomposting and composting. Having my own urban farm community in Los Angeles (www.AwesomeTownFarms.Wordpress.com) gave me a great platform to dive deep into resource management. I developed and maintained my own resource management system for the small community within two houses, holding 3 kitchens and 9 members. I maintained a system of hauling food waste from a local restaurant every other day back to my community, composting it into soil for our own horticultural needs. Also feeding the food waste to my hundreds of pets- my worms- in their nine foot by five foot luxury underground vermicomposting systems I created for them.
So my foundation was solid to take the position, however Pele did not call me all this way to her land for systems I was used to.  She called me to discover  more.

Confessions From The Soil Blog is documenting the sustainable systems I have learned and are  implementing along with documenting clear processes to share the journey around the world (That’s You!).   Journey with me into the discoveries that cross our path and other confessions the soil wants to reveal along the way….

Aloha Hawaii

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Arriving in Hawaii, new lands, new culture, new way of living, I had no idea what to expect. Hawaii did though, the aina spoke. Aina is the Hawaiian word for the earth, the land, that which supports and nourishes us. Within stepping into the aina of Hawaii the soil came as ambassador to greet me. This blog is about all the stories it told and where it lead me.
Aloha!