Friday, January 21, 2011

IMO#3 Indigenous Micro Organisms

Eric Mixing Microbes into Mill Run 

My son Drake tagged me on with this photo on Facebook.  It isn't the most flattering shot, but it got me thinking that this photo captures what Korean Natural Farming is all about.  Ya gotta get your hands dirty and dive into the whole experience.

What I am doing is mixing one five gallon bucket of water into one 50 pound bag of Mill Run.  Before adding the water I dissolved a heaping handful of IMO #2 into the five gallons.  This is step #3 of a four step process.  It is important to thoroughly mix the liquid into the dry Mill Run to get a uniform moisture content that won't drip when one presses it into a ball and the ball will break apart with a gentle finger poke.  This creates the ideal environment for the microbes to grow.  After I finish getting this pile mixed I'll cover it with an old cotton sheet.  In about 48 hours this pile heats up so it is too hot to touch.  The microbes are busy eating!  The pile develops thick layers of mold.  I turn the pile with a shovel every two days or so to cool it down and to mix all the microbes into the center of the pile.  After 7 to 10 days the pile will be cool and I'll do step #4.

To see all the steps explained much better go to  the College of Tropical Agriculture at  My son also has a wonderful site on natural farming at

Step #1 is to take several cups of cooked white rice and place it in a container about 3 inches thick.  I use a shallow cardboard box about 9 inches by 12 inches.  Then go out under a tree near you (preferably in your yard/neighborhood -- hence indigenous) and look for a pile of decomposing leaves.  Gather some leaves at the bottom of the pile near the ground (you should see some signs of mold/white stuff)  Break/sprinkle those leaves on top of your rice box, cover with a cloth napkin, and place into a dark closet for a week.  Warning, you are growing a very colorful box of mold.

Step #2 is to mix the stuff from step #1 together with raw brown sugar, 50% of each by volume.  This is a hands on gooey experience (brings back wonderful childhood memories).  Mix by hand, get sticky.  Place all this goop in a ceramic canister and put a cloth lid on it.  This is IMO#2!  It will last years in a dark closet.

Step #3 is what i did above.

Step #4 is to mix an equal volume of dirt into the IMO#3 with a five gallon bucket of water to get proper moisture level for happy microbes.  Cover and mix it like in step #3.  In 7 to 10 days you will end up with IMO#4, the miracle magic of Korean Natural Farming.

I'll explain how and when to apply IMO#4 in future posts.  The fun is letting microbes do the work, they  are the key to how nature works.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Winter Harvest

Abundant Counter Top

While not all of this fruit is from our gardens, most is.  Papaya's are always in season.  With about 5 full grown trees we harvest a half dozen fruits per day.  That is plenty for our morning smoothies and some left over to feed to the animals.  Bananas fruit comes ripe all year long and last week we harvested four bunches of apple bananas. At about 50 bananas to the bunch, that is way more than we can consume fresh.  We dehydrated lots of them and froze the rest, filling multiple zip locks for morning smoothies.  Our electricity is from our hydro electric system on our river, so the energy to freeze and dehydrate is of no consequence.  Avocados are still coming ripe.  I love to eat avocados so we planted about 8 trees about five years ago.  Last year was our first big fruit season for avocado.  Each tree is a different variety so in that way we space out the harvest window.  Avocados typically start coming ripe in the Fall, but we still have several trees holding boatloads of fruit.  Last week I noticed most of our avocado trees are beginning to flower.  Typical for tropical trees is to flower in the Spring and bear fruit in the Fall.  Also pictured is winter squash, purple sweet potatoes and my favorite juice fruit; tangelo.  I have not figured out how to grow onion and garlic here in the tropics but intend to try this year.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Connection between my Goal and Trash in NYC

Mountains of trash piled up in NYC after the Holiday snow storm and folks don't get it.  

When you go to the store and buy stuff it comes in packaging.  I don't care if you bring your "GREEN" reusable bag to the store, if it comes in packaging it creates trash.  NYC is no different than the rest of us, it is just more concentrated. 

This is one reason I am trying to grow my own food without buying outside inputs.  It does NOT create trash.  It does not come in a package.  The excess is recycled in my compost to make more food.

Hey, I'm not saying I'm any example, as I love to burn jet fuel just for the hedonistic pleasure of carving powder turns.  I'm just saying, we are a long way from being Green or saving the planet when we get in our cars and buy groceries.  Growing our own food is a critical part of the solution to sustainable living.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Korea Natural Farm Tour

In the Fall of 2009 I visited South Korea with my son Drake and a small group of agricultural enthusiasts from the Big Island.  The tour was organized by Dr. Hoon Park.  We were honored to spend a week with Master Cho, the founder of Korean Natural Farming.

We spent 8 days visiting various farming operations that had switched from conventional farming methods to Korean Natural Farming.  In every case the farms were experiencing much better results in every measurable metric; better yields, lower input costs, less pests, no toxic fertilizers or pesticides, higher profits, better quality.....  We saw apple orchards, kiwi orchards & persimmon orchards.  We visited greenhouse operations of tomato, strawberry, melons, zucchini, bell peppers... all with amazing and heathy plants.  We visited Naturally farmed animal operations, including odorless pig farms, chickens and cows.

I spent 2010 in my gardens at my home trying to learn and apply some of the Korean Natural Farming methods.  I have not used any fertilizers, but instead have concentrated on applying IMO to the soil and learning how to compost, grow worms and make the natural inputs used as plant sprays like, water soluble calcium, fish amino acid, lactic acid, oriental herbal nutrient, fermented plant juice and fermented fruit juices.  All of these inputs can be made from the resources right in your garden essentially at no cost and produce amazing results in fruits and vegetables.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


A photo of me, from my computer screen on New Years 2011 as I get inspired to fulfill my personal goals for the year. Yes this blog is for me. If no one reads it or views these, it matters not. Because this is for me, to document my progress, to honor my commitment.
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This blog is dedicated to the achievement of a personal goal:

For one month in 2011, to eat only food that I grew.

2011 is here.  The last full year on the Mayan calendar.  This may be crazy, but I believe it is achievable and possibly one of the best learning experiences of my life.