Bokashi and weeds

jbosmith

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Hi friends!

I've never paid much attention to Bokashi and the like because a) it just seemed like an internet trend and b) I have other, easier options for my compost. Anyway, long story short, winter boredom happened I've recently started playing with Bokashi to pre-ferment food scraps. It's going as expected, and I also got a giant free tumbler to take the fermented goop and mix it with sawdust so as an unexpected bonus I can now batch compost it. Hooray! The end!

Ok, not quite. One thing I don't like putting in my static pile is weeds that can spread by rhizome. We have some bishops weed that we've never quite managed to get rid of and quack grass is endemic everywhere in my area. I usually let this stuff pile up in a tub in the shed til I get around to dropping it off at the local compost place but today I got to thinking .. why not ferment it? There's no reason the pH of a Bokashi bucket wouldn't kill these weeds is there? Even if the pH doesn't do it, being sealed in a bucket would, eventually, and I can get all the buckets I want!

Soooo .. thoughts? Am I missing something obvious?
 

flowerbug

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i'm always interested in what people think about and are up to and if it works or not.

no room here for even more buckets - i'm trying to free up space! :) this time of the year i dry the vegetable scraps and then they go into the worm buckets. most weeds get buried deep enough they won't resurface. a few i know that i have to dry them out first before burying them or they get tossed on the top of the weed pile and they can dry out there. sometimes i've hung weeds on a fence to dry them (it doesn't work as a warning to other weeds unfortunately).
 

Alasgun

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Do a net search for “fermented plant extract” and “lacto bacillus serum”; you may find something useful Or interesting.
i’m a firm believer in and use the LBS for a number of things ranging from compost to foliar feeding. And some bugs etc.

The fermented plant extract i only use as a foliar for the plants and bugs.

the real geeks use both of these for a number of things, things i’d never have imagined. The net is awash with articles about both.
 

jbosmith

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no room here for even more buckets - i'm trying to free up space! :) this time of the year i dry the vegetable scraps and then they go into the worm buckets. most weeds get buried deep enough they won't resurface. a few i know that i have to dry them out first before burying them or they get tossed on the top of the weed pile and they can dry out there. sometimes i've hung weeds on a fence to dry them (it doesn't work as a warning to other weeds unfortunately).
I'll let quack grass dry, usually by throwing it in the raspberries, and mostly because I don't really care if it survives as long as it's outside my garden. Bishop's weed though .. that stuff is awful here. One of my spring projects is to save my favorite Iris (which I've had as long as I can remember) from an invasion and, it's not going to be easy. It's ridiculous what tiny flecks of bishops weed roots will survive. I once found a small root segment sprouting out of a crook of a garlic plant where it had fallen after weeding and was lucky enough to get rained on. A hair-sized root snaked all the way through the plant and into the ground.

Do a net search for “fermented plant extract” and “lacto bacillus serum”; you may find something useful Or interesting.
i’m a firm believer in and use the LBS for a number of things ranging from compost to foliar feeding. And some bugs etc.

The fermented plant extract i only use as a foliar for the plants and bugs.

the real geeks use both of these for a number of things, things i’d never have imagined. The net is awash with articles about both.
I know of this though I've never actually done it. I'm more interested in killing the plants than the end product although the idea of adding a sugar source to really speed things along and make them acidify is something to ponder. Maybe the leftover mash from making cider in the fall would be a good mix?

If this idea or another like it pan out, I might start stealing other people's weeds from the compost pile at the community garden because I hate how much of the mineral soil leaves to go to the composting facility every fall. Some day, decades from now, I'll be gardening up on my knoll of a plot, laughing down at all of those who threw away their soil! Bwahaha! Ok, maybe that's a bit much...
 

flowerbug

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I'll let quack grass dry, usually by throwing it in the raspberries, and mostly because I don't really care if it survives as long as it's outside my garden. Bishop's weed though .. that stuff is awful here. One of my spring projects is to save my favorite Iris (which I've had as long as I can remember) from an invasion and, it's not going to be easy. It's ridiculous what tiny flecks of bishops weed roots will survive. I once found a small root segment sprouting out of a crook of a garlic plant where it had fallen after weeding and was lucky enough to get rained on. A hair-sized root snaked all the way through the plant and into the ground.

supposedly it is edible, have you ever tried it?

we don't have it here.


I know of this though I've never actually done it. I'm more interested in killing the plants than the end product although the idea of adding a sugar source to really speed things along and make them acidify is something to ponder. Maybe the leftover mash from making cider in the fall would be a good mix?

the seeds have toxic stuff in them (arsenic i think), and you would want them to be ground up or otherwise they might sprout. cold does not kill them, heat would if it were hot enough, but i don't know the limit required for that.


If this idea or another like it pan out, I might start stealing other people's weeds from the compost pile at the community garden because I hate how much of the mineral soil leaves to go to the composting facility every fall. Some day, decades from now, I'll be gardening up on my knoll of a plot, laughing down at all of those who threw away their soil! Bwahaha! Ok, maybe that's a bit much...

yes, i hate moving dirt out of a garden and into the weed pile. i will go through a lot of work to avoid that. Mom will take buckets half full of weeds and dirt and dump them back there. *sigh & shrug* i try to explain to her that it isn't good but it doesn't sink in... eventually that weed pile will fill in the low spot where it is and then i'll start thinking of moving some of that dirt back to a garden (and bury it deeply as it will have a lot of weed seeds in it).
 

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Am I missing something obvious?
I was not familiar with this process until you mentioned it. An anaerobic process you are playing with in winter boredom that is supposed to increase microbes in the soil. I would expect the fermentation to kill any rhizomes or such (things like the nuts from nutsedge) and seeds too. There are a lot of seeds I don't want in my compost pile either. I'd think they are all targets for this processing. For your goal of neutralizing and recycling certain noxious weeds I'd think the process has possibilities. The devil is often in the details. You don't owe me any answers to these questions, just brainstorming things for you to think about.

You are playing with the process now. If you try this it won't be during the winter boredom months. How labor intensive is this? Will you have time during summer? I read about tapping run-off, just how and how often would you do that? Things like that.

How much volume are you talking about. You can get the buckets and lids but do you have a suitable place to put them? How temperature sensitive is the process? I'd assume you continue collecting those weeds in the tub until you get enough for a batch, maybe collect other stuff to go with the weeds. Are those weeds of a size they'll fit in the buckets? I understand you don't want air trapped in there.

How would you use the final products? My understanding is the prime benefit is to get the microbes, the stuff may not be broken down enough for the plants to immediately use the nutrients. I'm not real clear on that part of the process.

In theory it sounds great. How practical is it for you to actually execute it in the volume you are thinking about?
 

jbosmith

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I appreciate all the thought you put into this, and if nothing else I'm happy to have shown someone something new! Some thoughts are below. In general I think the biggest practical problem for me would be space to store the buckets plus finding a weeeee bit of motivation when it's the end of a gardening day and I don't want to deal with one more thing.
I was not familiar with this process until you mentioned it. An anaerobic process you are playing with in winter boredom that is supposed to increase microbes in the soil. I would expect the fermentation to kill any rhizomes or such (things like the nuts from nutsedge) and seeds too. There are a lot of seeds I don't want in my compost pile either. I'd think they are all targets for this processing. For your goal of neutralizing and recycling certain noxious weeds I'd think the process has possibilities. The devil is often in the details. You don't owe me any answers to these questions, just brainstorming things for you to think about.
Yeah, the seeds dying would definitely also be a nice benefit! Maybe adding one more stressor to any leftover plant diseases that end up in the compost too. Most of my weeds aren't the kinds that make seeds when they're small but some of my flowers could be dealt with this way before they spread. Calendula, and poppies, for example, will take over if I let them. They're nice weeds but there are limits.
You are playing with the process now. If you try this it won't be during the winter boredom months. How labor intensive is this? Will you have time during summer? I read about tapping run-off, just how and how often would you do that? Things like that.
The first bucket I did was two weeks worth of food scraps that I collected and froze while the bran was fermenting. As you might imagine, that gave off a ton of water, even the next day. The bucket I"m working on now has a couple of inches of old coir and potting mix in the bottom to absorb liquids, and so far nothing has come out. I can also get all the sawdust I'd need in the summer, so if I kept some buckets prepped with sawdust in them ahead of time I think I could skip the taps entirely. Even if it's not perfect, it's more likely that I'd be storing these in a barn or shed rather than my basement, and I still think it'd accomplish the goal of killing the weeds/seeds.
How much volume are you talking about. You can get the buckets and lids but do you have a suitable place to put them? How temperature sensitive is the process? I'd assume you continue collecting those weeds in the tub until you get enough for a batch, maybe collect other stuff to go with the weeds. Are those weeds of a size they'll fit in the buckets? I understand you don't want air trapped in there.
I mulch most of my gardens pretty heavily so the weed volume is fairly low. I could definitely fill some buckets, especially early and late in the season, but don't need to worry about filling barrels (although .. that's something to think about). I already use buckets to collect the weeds and already tend to pack them as I go, mostly to minimize trips to the pile. I would need to add some bran as I went to do this properly, though I suspect a winter in a bucket with a top on it would accomplish the same thing with the lactobugs on the weeds themselves. The weeds are all small enough to go in buckets without problems.
How would you use the final products? My understanding is the prime benefit is to get the microbes, the stuff may not be broken down enough for the plants to immediately use the nutrients. I'm not real clear on that part of the process.
The food scraps I have right now are going to go in a tumbler with other compost, sawdust, and whatever other carbon and bacteria sources feel right to add at the time. An added benefits to saving food scraps this way, at least in theory, is that I can batch compost rather than continuously adding to a tumbler that's never finished. The scraps still look roughly the same after fermenting but they apparently break down pretty fast once they're in an environment that allows it. The main benefit to doing this inside in the winter with food scraps is that you can store buckets of food scraps without your house smelling like you're storing buckets of food scraps.

As far as the final products of the weeds .. I'm not sure. Some might get added to the tumbler, but I suspect I could just bury most under my mulch. People online bury fermented food scraps a bucket at a time in open spots in garden beds. Unless they have peat/coir based raised beds, I suspect that most of their nutrients are just leaching away since the c:n ratio is waaaay too low for the soil to be binding much. If nothing else I could always add the fermented weeds to my static pile once I was confident that the weeds were dead.
In theory it sounds great. How practical is it for you to actually execute it in the volume you are thinking about?
On paper I think it's all sorts of practical if I can find an out of the way place to put the buckets and forget them for a while. I suspect it'll mostly come down to motivation.

Thanks for 'talking' this out with me!
 

jbosmith

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supposedly it is edible, have you ever tried it?
I have not, but I do some work with gleaning organizations and am always trying to get them to 'glean' my quack grass for me. Somehow they never seem very interested. The bishops weed doesn't smell like anything I'd like to even try.

we don't have it here.
I'm jealous though I suspect you have other, similar problems.

the seeds have toxic stuff in them (arsenic i think), and you would want them to be ground up or otherwise they might sprout. cold does not kill them, heat would if it were hot enough, but i don't know the limit required for that.
The Bokashi theoretically drops to like a pH of 3 which might do them in, but I'm not worried about apple seedlings either way. One time weeds don't bother me unless they show up in a carpet.

yes, i hate moving dirt out of a garden and into the weed pile. i will go through a lot of work to avoid that. Mom will take buckets half full of weeds and dirt and dump them back there. *sigh & shrug* i try to explain to her that it isn't good but it doesn't sink in... eventually that weed pile will fill in the low spot where it is and then i'll start thinking of moving some of that dirt back to a garden (and bury it deeply as it will have a lot of weed seeds in it).
Most of my weeds get piled up right in the garden. We get enough rain that there's usually something living on the weed pile but a little turning takes care of that.
 

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The 'nuts' from nutsedge....does this refer to Tigernuts (earth almonds)?
Probably. If it's not the exact same thing it is a real close relative. The nutsedge I'm referring to is an extremely invasive weed. It is a sedge, not a grass. It grows from a "nut" that might be close to the soil surface or down more than a foot. The photos I saw for Tiger Nuts looked petty large, most I find are smaller. Some really small.

They grow from a nut that overwinters, down here some might even grow and reproduce during our winters. They also grow from seed, not just the tubers. When the plant gets about 6 leaves, which is pretty quickly, it starts sending out rhizomes which become new plants, each forming it's own nut. They can quickly overwhelm an area. I absolutely do not recommend you start your own patch of Tiger Nuts, I think you will greatly regret it.

I saw nutsedge growing where I put in my raised beds so I removed the top 5 or 6 inches of soil to remove most nuts and seeds. There were other benefits too but the nutsedge is what made me do it without thinking further, in some areas it was a solid mat. It did not get rid of all of them but at least got the numbers down to manageable. When I see a nutsedge growing in there I immediately get rid of it so it doesn't reproduce. If I can, I trace it down to find the nut which can resprout several times. But often I can't dig that deep a hole because of what else is growing in there.
 
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