Korean Natural Farming- “IMO 1”
IMO 1: Indigenous Micro Organisms
In Korean Natural Farming it is taught to collect indigenous microorganisms from our local environment and culture them for use into our garden beds and to our plants as a foliar spray. Collecting and utilizing the IMO’s will assist and encourage the re population of organisms in your soil for optimum soil health which in turn creates balanced, healthy plant growth and production.
Collecting IMO’s from you area is greatly encouraged because the organisms are already adapted to the climate and environment for maximum strength and efficiency, so basically no jet lag from these guys once their on the clock. IMO’s can also come from two different sources: bacterial and fungal. Bamboo patches and vermicastings can provide a bacterial environment and old growth forest can offer fungal.
It is also beneficial to make collecting, culturing, and applying IMO’s to your soil regularly. The consistency maintains an abundant living soil for all your plants to thrive in. Not only will it show to be beneficial to the plants but also contribute to a rich eco-system in your land.
-Clean Rubbermaid storage Bin
-Clean small plastic “shoe box” style container
-Clean containers such as a large yogurt or cottage cheese container
-Non Chlorinated water
-String or bungee to secure cheese cloth to small container
-Castings from worms (contains bacteria)
(Note– there are many great videos and documents on how to collect IMO online however after experimenting with multiple ways here in the jungle, it shown to be too wet and damp which collected black mold along with fire ants infesting the process. The system below mimics an atmosphere that is contained and helps keep out the jungle moisture and mass amounts of fire ants.
The system is basically a dry, clean space (Rubbermaid Storage Bin) with the worm casting inside. The cooked rice will capture the bacteria contained in the casting and be able to populate in a clean, dry environment.
-Make “hard cooked” rice in rice maker. Hard Cooked rice is rice that is cooked to be as dry as possible, so you want to avoid making a moist or sticky rice. To make hard cooked rice you add no more that half the amount of water to rice.
Example: if you measure 3 parts rice you add 1.5 parts NON CHLORINATED water. Cook in rice cooker.
-Fill container (yogurt or cottage cheese container) with cooked rice loosely.
-Place the cooked rice container into the larger “shoe box” style container that contains collected vermi castings in the bottom. The castings contain the bacteria that will be captured and populated on the cooked rice. Cover this container with cheese cloth and string containing both casting container and cooked rice container.
-Both of these containers will be placed in the larger clean Rubbermaid storage bin which will act as the simulated clean, dry environment for the IMO’s to be created in.
-Place the Rubbermaid storage bin (with lid) in a very dry and shaded area. The dryer and cooler (meaning cooler for the jungle) the better.
-Check on the cooked rice container daily to monitor the growth of the IMO and to make sure it is not getting contaminated by moisture or bugs.
-When a fluffy white substance has spread over the cooked rice- the IMO is complete. Do not let it sit too long or it will develop other molds that will contaminate the pure IMO that you are aiming to capture.
NEXT STEP: GO TO “IMO 2”
Korean Natural Farming- “IMO 2”
IMO 1 is the collection of the Indigenous Micro Organisms from your environment on the cooked rice (rice and microbes). IMO 2 is the fermentation process of the organism in a sugar source (rice, microbes, and sugar).
Small Container (no lid)
Cheese cloth with string
-measure out equal parts (1:1) brown sugar to the amount of rice and microbes (IMO-1) *estimating equal parts by sight is fine.
-mix the brown sugar thoroughly into the IMO1 with your hands (gloves recommended)
-mixture is complete when you can easily form a mass with the rice and sugar with your hands.
-cover the mixture with cheese cloth and string and let ferment for two weeks in a cool, dark, and very dry location.
(The microbes are developing by eating the sugar and fermenting. It was found beneficial to pick up the container and rotate it to mix it frequently during the fermentation process.)
-here in the jungle, ants are attracted to the sugar and rice, so we put a container inside a larger container with a few inches of water at the bottom. This keeps the ants from getting to the container.
STABALIZING IMO 2
Once IMO2 is complete in fermentation (2-3 weeks) it can be stabilized and stored for use.
-put finished IMO2 in a larger bucket.
-Add 3 times (1:3) amount of non chlorinated water to the IMO2.
-mix with wooden spoon or bamboo.
-strain out liquid mixture to remove rice and other particles.
-Finished strained IMO2 can be stored in bucket (with air lock) in a cool, dark place for up to one year.
Finished IMO2 can now be used in soil and garden beds and sprayed onto plants as a foliar spray.
-use a ratio of 1:500 of the IMO2 to non chlorinated water in a sprayer to treat garden bed soil, compost piles, and foliar spray to growing plants.
(mixture can be made with all inputs at once to be sprayed)
-treating plants and soil should be done before the sun comes up. The plants pours are wide open in the dark and will consume the foliar spray versus in the sun when the pours are closed. Also spraying in the dark allows the microbes to softly enter the soil without getting fried and killed from the hot sun during application. These microbes are alive and direct, hot sunlight will kill them.
EM 1 is a product on the market that is a special blend of efficient/effective micronutrients. It was created by Professor Dr. Teruo Higa who also coined the words “effective micro organism” and trademarked “EM”.
EM 1 contains many co-existing micro organisms versus the “LAB” we create in Korean Natural Farming which only contain the lactobacillus culture. The major groups of micro organisms in EM 1 is lactobacillus, yeast, and phototrophic bacteria.
EM-1 can be used for a multitude of applications including compost piles, odor reduction, water treatments and ponds, foliar sprays, garden bed treatments, and livestock operations.
EM-1 can be pricy from the stores or distributers. There is a procedure to “extend” the amount of EM-1 to increase the volume. This procedure is called “Activated EM”. That does not mean the EM is not activated from it’s original bottle, I believe the term “Activated” was eventually preferred over “Extended”.
By Activating/Extending the EM-1 you can increase the volume by 20 times which brings the cost down to a fraction of the original price. When creating Activated EM-1 you need to allow time for the fermentation and gather supplies for the procedure.
-Bucket/Buckets with lids
-Air locks (optional)
-non chlorinated water
-Cheese cloth and string
-Measure out the quantity of EM-1 that you desire to extend:
-Add equal part molasses. 1:1 ( EM-1: Molasses)
-Gently stir (wood/bamboo stick- not metal) in 20 parts non-chlorinated water. 1:20 (EM-1+Molasses: water)
-Let sit with cheese cloth fastened on top of bucket (without lid) for the first 24 hours to encourage some aerobic absorption.
-After 24 hours, secure on lids and airlocks to buckets for an aerobic fermentation process:
-store buckets in a dry, shaded space. Warmer temperatures is preferred for the fermentation process.
-Activated EM-1 is ready to use after 4 weeks of fermentation.
I have discovered that the information originally presented by EM 1 distributors about “Activating” EM has changed. The current information is listing that after adding the Molasses, the activated EM can be used in 4-7 days.
Further research has gathered that after adding the molasses and water for the “Activation”, the EM can be used immediately or within 4-7 days for the most active microbes. Additionally, the “Activated EM” should be completely used within one month.
-Foliar spray: 1:500 – 1:1000
-Compost piles: 1:50- 1:100
-A few ounces can be used in grey water systems, down drains, and in septic tanks for odor control.
Air Locks and Pour Spouts:
Some of the inputs that you make from Korean Natural farming will require air locks for your buckets. Below is the procedure to easily make your own. It is also beneficial to attach pour spouts to your buckets to easily dispense the inputs for use.
-Buckets with lid
-Plastic beverage bottle with lid
-Drill with “step drill” attachment
(or any tool that will make a hole the size of your tubing)
Step Drill Attachment:
-Drill one hole in your bucket lid and one hole on the top of your beverage container. The hole should be a very tight fit for the plastic tubing to fit through.
-Puncture a small hole at the top of the beverage bottle:
-Fill beverage bottle with water to just under the punctured hole level. Make sure the tubing goes into the water. The tubing coming through the bucket lid into the bucket however should not be immersed in any liquid.
-Secure lid on bucket tightly. Air will now travel from the bucket through the plastic tubing into the water of the beverage container.
Pour spouts can be purchased online for $5.49 each at Midwest Home brewing and Winemaking Supplies:
I recommend the drum tap spigot as it did well without leaking.
You will also need a hole saw or a spade bit of the size of the pour spout to attach it to your bucket:
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.
-Brick or large stone for weight
-Cheese cloth and string
-Small bucket with air lock
-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.
– Add estimated equal amount in weight of brown sugar to comfrey leaves in 5 gallon bucket
– 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.
-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.
-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.
-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.
-Strain FPJ into new container with cheese cloth to remove any remaining particles.
-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.
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.