Activated EM-1

Activated EM-1

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.

Supplies Needed:



-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.


Water Soluble Calcium and Water Soluble Calcium Phosphorus

Korean Natural Farming- “WCA” & “WCP”

“WCA”: Water Soluble Calcium

“WCP”: Water Soluble Calcium Phosphorus

Korean Natural farming teaches us to make our own water soluble calcium and water soluble calcium phosphorus from simple ingredients that are easily found from your kitchen.

Calcium and phosphorus are important for our plant growth, health, pest and disease control.

In Korean Natural Farming it is beneficial to add these inputs during certain times of the plants development.  Calcium is important during the beginning stages of the plant to assist its strong growth.  Phosphorus is important during the “change over” period between vegetative cycle and flowering cycle.

Fungal disease and blossom end rot are also signs of calcium deficiencies.

Lack of Calcium also causes PH imbalances towards the acidic side.

The water soluble application also allows an easily absorbed source of nutrients to the plants immediately.  This system can show to be superior to a powder form of calcium which requires a long process of breaking down into the soil until it is available for the plant to utilize.

Supplies Needed:

-Egg shells

-Vinegar (alive: homemade, apple cider vinegar, brown rice vinegar, etc.- No White or distilled)

-Large glass containers

-Cheese cloth and string

-Toasting mechanism: BBQ, Oven, Torch, Camp fire, Etc.


-Collect Egg Shells and rinse clean


-Prepare the way you are planning to “toast” your eggshells.  This can be done on a BBQ, over a camp fire, or in the oven. We have access to a flame propane torch:


-Toast the eggshells:


-For Calcium only you want the eggshells to be toasted brown without the charred black.  For Phosphorus you will want eggshells that are charred black:


-These toasted eggshells will now be added to your vinegar.  You need “alive” vinegar not white vinegar or distilled.  You can make your own alive vinegar or buy apple cider vinegar with the mother culture.  This is our homemade vinegar, one jar for calcium only eggshells and one jar for calcium/phosphorus eggshells:


-Add eggshells to vinegar: ratio is 1:10 (eggshells : vinegar) Add the eggshells slowly as the reaction is a fizzing and can get very active if added to fast all at once:


-Below is both WSC: Water Soluble Calcium (lighter) and WCP: Water Soluble Calcium Phosphorus (darker):


-Cover jars with cheese cloth and string and let sit in a dry dark space for at least 20 days.  After 20 days you can add a small amount more of toasted eggshells to see if additional fizzing occurs.  If so, the vinegar is able to still extract more calcium.  If not, the vinegar is at its capacity for absorption.

-When finished, strain and store in glass jar with lid.  Dispose of eggshells in compost pile.


WSC and WCP can be used at a diluted ratio of 1:500 – 1:1000 to non-chlorinated water.  This input can be put into a sprayer and used before sunrise as a foliar and garden bed spray.  This input can be added with other inputs during spraying however should be stored separately.

Permaculture Design Course


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


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 ( 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….