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DIY Nutrient Ferments

Here at Nature Cycle, we brew fortnightly nutrient ferments to maintain onsite nutrients and micro-organisms. These ferments come from the plants we have growing onsite and ensure the local micro-ecology is being maintained while the soil is regularly being disrupted As market gardeners, much like compost is backyard black gold, we find this concoction of garden goodness to be liquid gold. We have great results in our soil in the creation of tilth, overall health of the soil and the dispersion of nutrients. Nutrient ferments have been pioneered by the Natural Farming Method, utilized widely through Korea for 100's-1000's of years and are very similar to many of the natural, organic and biodynamic preparations that are created to help create optimal soil health. We highly recommend reading Dr. Cho's guidelines and uses for the various ferments as they have a wide range of uses from soil activation and pest control to treating odors in septic systems.

To learn more about micro-organisms in the Market Garden and how to set up your own Market Garden be sure to check out;

  1. Green Manures in the Market Garden
  2. Understanding Soils in the Market Garden
  3. Building Biodiversity in the Market Garden
  4. Composting in the Market Garden
  5. Building Bio-intensive Market Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

Materials

  • Glass or Food Safe Container (I use a 20L pail)
  • Freshly picked leaves
  • Sugar
  • Tea towel
  • String
  • Tile/Brick/Medium sized rock
  • Strainer

Considerations

  • You are creating a ferment which holds micro-organisms, the same care and consideration should be taken as would be taken when using any other medium with micro-organisms.
  • Brews can culture micro-organisms that are not beneficial for plant or human health, due care needs to be taken in the selection and brewing of organic material. If you find black, red, orange, yellow or grey molds growing on top of the brew, it has been contaminated so throw it out. White molds are what you are trying to cultivate so don't be worried by seeing that on top of the brew.
  • The ferment is attractive to all sorts of animals and insects, ensure there are no holes in the cover and it is secured well.
  • Different plants will imbue cultures with various enzymes and nutrients, select plants based on the properties you want to put back into the soil. For instance, I grow nitrogen loving crops so I use lots of clovers and fast growing weeds in my ferments to create higher nitrogen based solutions.
  • Use the solution at a ratio of no more than 1:50, so for every 9L container 20mL is more than enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Process

  1. Pick fresh leaves from selected plants early in the morning. If it is a period of rain wait at least 3 days after the rain has ceased before picking. Picking leaves before the sun has reached the leaves is preferable as the leaves have the highest concentration of active micro-organisms.
  2. Shake any excess dirt and insects from the leaves before adding them into the container.
  3. Weigh plant matter.
  4. For every 1kg of plant matter, add 1kg of sugar. Add the plant matter and sugar at 500g quantities together and thoroughly squeeze and mix together, much like mixing the cabbage and salt together for sauerkraut.
  5. Fill the bucket too two-thirds full.
  6. Place the brick/tile on top of the mixture.
  7. Secure the tea towel over the opening with string, tying off securely against the bucket.
  8. Leave for 3 days before removing the brick/tile. Secure the cover back over the opening.
  9. Leave for a further 2-4 days until the ferment is ready to use. There should be small bubbles forming around the outside and white molds on top of protruding organic matter.
  10. Remove the cover, stir in any white molds and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  11. Strain the liquid into another container and compress as much liquid from the organic material.
  12. Pour the resulting liquid into dark glass jars or light blocking containers. I use old Seasol bottles. The liquid is usable for 4 weeks kept out of sun or up to 3 months if kept in the fridge. For the best results let it sit for 1 week and use it within 1 week after.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To learn more about micro-organisms in the Market Garden and how to set up your own Market Garden be sure to check out;

  1. Green Manures in the Market Garden
  2. Understanding Soils in the Market Garden
  3. Building Biodiversity in the Market Garden
  4. Composting in the Market Garden
  5. Building Bio-intensive Market Gardens

References

  1. Rohini Reddy, k. (2018). Cho Global Natural Farming, SARRA India. [online] Cgnfindia.com. Available at: http://www.cgnfindia.com/.
  2. Natural Farming Hawaii. (2018). Welcome to Natural Farming Hawaii • Natural Farming Hawaii. [online] Available at: https://naturalfarminghawaii.net/.