Bounty Interview: Probiotic, organic cannabis cultivator

@budding_grower, mycelium-aficionado and probiotic-organic medical cannabis cultivator.

When you met someone who can regularly be quoted saying “I got mold stacked to the ceiling,” or, better yet, recites poetry to mold inspired by mold whenever the opportunity presents, you know you’ve met a special kind of grower. So when he showed me his mycelium-powered ladies, I knew it was only a matter of time before I had to bring his method to Bounty Blog for the entire ProGrower Nation to witness. This week, the magic finally happened and I sat down with @budding_grower, giving him yet another excuse to bring up, school us on, and further talk about mycelium, aka MOLD.

First and foremost, what is mycelium and how beneficial is it to incorporate into your medical marijuana garden?

Mycelium–the vegetative part of a fungus. I like to incorporate mold into my garden for the many benefits it provides: from pest prevention to water retention, it even serves as a giant filter. Mycelium filters nutrients and pathogens in your soil, a process known as mycofiltration, serving as a perfect organic filter for your garden. It is also great for composting and breaking down root mass, allowing you to recycle and reuse your soil.

Mycelium growth and a genuine mold-rush

Mycelium growth and a happy grower

How did you stumble into the mold world?

It started when I saw Bokashi pictures on Instagram. Then I began seeing the Bokashi buckets at Whole Foods and that’s when I really FLIPPED OUT and started looking into Bokashi here: Each One Teach One Farms. The only other guy as stoked about the Bokashi buckets was a guy who teaches a fermenting class. So, I went out and bought one Bokashi bucket and couple of pounds of Bokashi and bang! I started composting.

Bokashi-composting beets

Bokashi-composting beets

For those of us who may be unfamiliar, can you tell us a little bit about Bokashi?

Bokashi is Japanese for “fermented organic matter.” The bokashi method basically consists of layering your kitchen scraps (veggie, fruit, meat or dairy) with a Bokashi inoculant. The inoculant usually consists of wheat germ, bran, or sawdust combined with molasses and beneficial microbes. You can buy the inoculant packaged or mix your own. When layered and left to sit for up to ten days, the mixture ferments. After about ten days, the fermented mixture can be blended into your garden or added to a compost pile to further decompose.

What do you usually compost?

I do fully vegan compost, using only scraps from an organic juice bar.

Give us some hindsight into your crops before the mold rush. What made you get into probiotic gardening?

My first run was fully synthetic. After harvesting I didn’t like the run, it was missing something. Driven by curiosity, my second run—or the “experimental super soil where I bred super-bugs” run, as I like to call it– was powered by a home-made super soil. That’s when I learned about gnats and springtails, haha. I wanted life and I got too much of it! I think back to that as my dirty run. My grow was still lacking something even though I had all this life now.

At one point I came across the world of Organics Alive (OA).  I didn’t know much about microbes when I started brewing; I just knew compost teas were good. My first successful run was when I mixed my own soil with the following: OA premium mix/ Insect Frass™/Bokashi/brilliant black/powdered cal mag, and used nothing but microbial teas.

 

"Don't you get all excited with all that mycelium floating around? To me, it's just as pretty as the stars" -@budding_grower when describing Bokashi runoff.

“Don’t you get all excited with all that mycelium floating around? To me, it’s just as pretty as the stars” -@budding_grower when describing Bokashi runoff.

How do you prevent bugs and pests? Are they more attracted to your garden now that you’re inoculating everything so intensely? How do you keep it organic?

I keep it organic by keeping it simple. The OA microbial tea is awesome for pest prevention. Some people make Kavass and Bokashi tea with garlic cinnamon and essential oils for organic pest prevention. No buggy wants to hang out around fermented garlic! To make sure pests are not attracted to the soil I try my best to keep a clean garden. I also screen my compost to make sure any large pieces of food scraps that did not get broken down are not in the soil mix. The reason I like to amend North County Bounty ProGrower’s Blend with Bokashi inoculated compost is because the coco blend is clean and I can cook my “super soil” indoors while still maintaining a clean environment.

In the past I have had lots of pest problems cooking super soil with manures outdoors. @organicsalive’s microbial tea is also packed full of chitin and cellulose degrading microbes; these microbes also excrete enzymes that wipe-out pests and pathogens in the soil as well as on plant surfaces. The enzymes eat away at the pests or pathogens and then the mycelium filters anything that the plant does not need or is not healthy for the plant.

What is your response to growers who are concerned about the cost of incorporating teas, mold, organics, etc. into their medicinal and/or vegetable gardens?

Incorporating organics into your grow lifestyle is actually cheaper in the long run. Amending dry soil and re-upping with microbial tea can last much longer than bottled nutrients. Also, recycling soil is a great way to save money in the long run.

Bokashi-composting strawberries

Bokashi-composting strawberries

What are your go-to resources when trying to increase your moldy knowledge?

My resources for Mycelium and Kashi have been Jim @thebokashibucket and Alan from the Probiotic Farmers Alliance (PFA) and Gage Green Group (GGG). Jim helped me understand Bokashi composting and how to re-use food scraps and put them back in your garden. Alan from the PFA and GGG assisted me more on a plant and garden level by helping me understand mycelium’s role in the garden.

How many hours per/week do you spend in your garden on average?

I spend about 30-40 hours a week in my garden. Yeah, including my Kashi! 

bucket_buddinggrower

Walk us through a batch–with ingredients and all!

OK, time to talk process:

For Bokashi composting I use only organic food scraps. No meat or dairy in my compost bin (but you can Bokashi dairy and meat if you would like). I layer my compost every few inches with one hand full of Bokashi and two handfuls of love. I also inoculate the food scraps with Insect Frass™, Azomite™, baseline and Organic Alive Premium Mix. Once the food scraps in the bucket reach the top, it is sealed for about two weeks to ferment. As it ferments the juices the Bokashi tea, aka Bokashi run off, settles at bottom of the bucket. This tea is a great foliar spray and pest prevention and also a great anaerobic tea–gold!

Whether he’s sharing links about mycelium detoxing the earth, taking selfies with mold buckets, or flipping through his photo albums filled with mycelium and Bokashi love, @budding_grower genuinely gets a mold-rush from talking probiotic gardening. Check him out on Instagram to get more mycelium-goodness in your feed. Thank you for dropping some knowledge and taking us on one moldy-composting adventure.

“I talk about mold every hour, even if it’s with myself.” -@budding_grower

@budding_grower is notorious for dropping off moldy buckets pretty much at every house he visits. At the end of the interview he handed over mine.

@budding_grower is notorious for dropping off moldy buckets pretty much at every house he visits. At the end of our interview he handed over mine.

 

Happy composting, everyone!

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