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.

Supplies Needed:

-Clean Rubbermaid storage Bin

-Clean small plastic “shoe box” style container

-Clean containers such as a large yogurt or cottage cheese container

-White rice

-Non Chlorinated water

-Cheese cloth

-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.





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.

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….