How to Make Organic Fertilizers that Work

December 17th, 2014
Mixing ingredients for Bocashi

Mixing ingredients for Bocashi

People often ask us, “But if I’m not using chemicals, how do I maintain my yields?”  Years of experience has taught many farmers that using local and natural materials can help you maintain healthy plants without contaminating the earth.  There are many different types of natural composts, and this past Saturday in Guararé, Azuero Earth Project presented a hands-on workshop to demonstrate two fast-producing organic fertilizers – Bocashi, and Biol.  Owners of a lovely property in Albina Grande, Robert and Pat Irwin offered to host our workshop at their farm. Among those in attendance were citrus farmers, corn farmers, landowners, and members of an environmental NGO from Guararé.

Bocashi, a fermented soil amendment, is ready in no time compared to other types of composts! In a matter of 15 days, your Bocashi is ready to use, using inputs commonly found in agrarian areas, such as cow manure, ash, and peels of rice. The quickness of Bocashi comes from the fermenting process- the Bocashi heats up to over 50 degrees Celsius on the first day. Subsequently, it must be turned each day to keep the temperature low.   One of the excellent benefits of Bocashi is that there are many substitutes for the ingredients. Don’t have Carbon chunks? Use ash.  Don’t have Molasses? Use miel de caña.

After 15 days of fermenting, your Bocashi is ready for use. Because this is a strong fertilizer rich in many nutrients, it can actually burn the plants if directly applied.  We recommend digging the hole deeper than necessary, adding a handful of Bocashi, cover that with another layer of soil, and then planting your seedling.  Alternatively, you can apply your Bocashi to existing plants by digging a smaller trench encircling the plant, and burying the Bocashi under a layer of soil.  For more details, check out the Powerpoint presentation here.Presentacion-del-Bocachi-131214

Jaime describing the different inputs used to make Biol

Jaime describing the different inputs used to make Biol

Biol is a fermented foliar feed.  In comparison to soil amendments, foliar feeds are faster acting, because the plants absorb the nutrients directly through their leaves.  Biol should be diluted for application to plants.  If used directly from the tank, without dilution, it can be an herbicide.  Our staff also recommends using diluted Biol to pretreat seeds- soak seeds for twenty minutes in a ratio of 8:1 water-biol before planting.  Biol has the added benefits of little labor to produce as well as low input costs.  For all the technical details, check out the Powerpoint here. Biol 131214

Attached here, you can also find the brief handout with all the quantities and ratios for each soil amendment. Bocachi Biol Handout

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