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I love to compost stuff and have been doing it for 50 years – the last 40 in Maine, with its cold winter. I don’t like trudging to the outdoor compost pile in winter. I have to clear a path and brave the cold to get kitchen waste to the pile, and then it just sits there until spring. My search for the perfect solution continues, but bokashi is an important milestone.

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1. Materials. Brown materials are high in carbon, green materials are high in nitrogen. Mix the two in rough proportions of 2 volumes of brown to 1 volume of green to achieve a C:N ratio of 25:1 to 40:1. Remember that different sources of nitrogen have differing amounts of nitrogen; e.g., alfalfa is 2.6 percent N, blood meal is 12 percent, fish meal is 8 percent, soybean meal is 7 percent, so less of the higher N additives will be needed.

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Using compost to make a foliar spray or soil drench to promote plant growth and suppress plant diseases has gained popularity in the United States during the past 10 years, especially among organic farmers. These “compost teas” are made by adding small amounts of finished, mature compost to unheated water and allowing the mixture to steep or brew.

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Towns around Maine, and the rest of northern New England, have been taking part in group orders of plastic compost bins for the last couple of years.

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In recent years almost everything about compost tea has become sophisticated: How to make it, how to use it, its benefits, and, recently, its risks. And, of course, now that USDA has control of organic certification, regulations are suggested when compost tea is used on commercial organic farms. Perhaps the most interesting development is the discovery that compost teas can suppress plant diseases.

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Nursery cropsWorking with compost-based seeding mixes is not a static thing. That was the main message Dr. Will Brinton of Woods End Lab imparted in a MOFGA-sponsored talk at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show in January.

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Here is yet another superb – and humorous – video about composting distributed by Bullfrog Films. Everything you need to know to compost is in this brief, entertaining video.

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Composting for Municipalities: Planning and Design Considerations, published in Nov. 1998 and containing 136 pages, is available for $18.

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