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Bokashi in Science Class

February 19, 2024

Hello, I am an 8th grade math and science teacher.  I missed the Bokashi class, but hope you can answer some questions.

Description of Setup: I put some brown rice in water and waited for it to begin bubbling from the bacteria in it.  I transferred this water into milk.  I waited for the milk to separate into curds and weigh next to other milk that had not been treated (it had smooth curds while the treated milk had curds pocked with gas bubbles a little like Swiss cheese) with rice bacteria.  I poured the liquid from both solutions into a mixture of water and molasses as per an online recipe.  I then poured that onto papers and coconut coir as that was what I had on hand. It is now in a bucket. I have needed to bleed the pressure off every day for the last several days (I am a little surprised this gas does not smell).

I hope to get a bucket of food and layer it with this wet bacteria and coco/paper substrate in order to pickle the waste.  However, I do not understand a couple of things about this process as it has been described.

1. If I put it into a bucket, I am to understand I want anaerobic conditions.  If this is the case, then why should I drain it during the process?  I would think the extra liquid would take up space otherwise filled by air.  Is this a pH issue or something?

2. The soil I have to bury the bucket in is very sandy.  Do I need cellulose like in normal compost?

3. Are there any issues with my method as described above?

4. Are there any good programs or grants you are aware of to encourage gardening/composting in schools?

Thanks for your attention.

Can I Relocate Red Wigglers to Garden

February 29, 2024

My zip code is 87505. I have a multilevel worm bin full of red wigglers that's kept outside on a porch year-round. I'm wondering whether I can relocate my worms to my garden. I grow veggies directly in the ground rather than in raised beds. Will the worms survive OK? Will they benefit the soil? Is there any reason not to let them roam free in the garden? Thank you!

Small Flies/Gnats Infesting My Worm Bin

March 14, 2024

I’m hoping you can help me solve a problem with my worm bin. This is my first year composting, and it started out great. The worms seem to be very happy. However, once my worm bin was full and I stopped adding to it, a large population of small flies/gnats (not sure exactly what they are. But smaller than fruit flies) moved in. I’ve put an apple cider vinegar/dish soap bowl in there to trap them. But I feel like I need a stronger approach. Any advice? [Video was attached for reference. Not included here.]

Amending My Garden Beds

March 19, 2024

I have been amending my garden beds in my near West Side soil for years, and this year have been thinking about composting in place with leaves topped with a layer of manure about four inches below the surface. I have some perennial plants in those beds and put seeds in as well.Would this be anaerobic composting?  If so, is this bad for the soil and the root structure of any plants or vegetables that I might plant over those?I have a composter but it attracts coachroaches while composting. I have previously composted kitchen waste in place covered with a light layer of soil, which also attracts roaches.Thanks.

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