Composting in the tropics is hard? How can it possibly be hard? You throw your garbage out here, and it grows. But it is difficult to produce good compost here.
The climate is different, the bugs are different, the bacteria are different. So what works here is different as well. All the serious gardeners I know here in Panama have tried the methods they brought from the north with disappointing results. Most gardening books are written for northern countries. England, the US, Canada.
I was recently privileged to attend an event where the Azuero Earth Project provided a live demonstration of how to make a composted fertilizer called Bocashi. This recipe is provided by AEP, the translation and photos by me. (If I got any of it wrong, I dearly hope someone will tell me so I can make the correction.)
A qq, by the way is the abbreviation for quintal, or 100 kilograms.
- 200 kg of common earth
- 100 kg of rice hulls (available at most ag and garden supply stores)
- 100 kg of charcoal and ash (from any fire – pulverize it)
- 100 kg of rice ‘husk’ – actually rice germ
- 100 kg of chicken droppings, DRIED – or FRESH cow manure
- 1 liter of cane molasses
- 10 lbs of agricultural lime
- 100 grams of yeast
- Water, as needed
These ingredients are first layered, on perhaps a sheet of plastic, then turned, wet down, mixed and re-mixed for six days, and finally, left to ferment for 15 days.
Add the 200 kg of dirt.
Step 6. Add the pulverized charcoal. This can be gotten from any fire – include the ashes. Jairo simply scooped up the remains of a nearby burn, put it into a sack and beat it with the nearest log until it was as small as he deemed necessary.
Step 13. Add more water, but not all at once. How much to add will differ batch to batch, because of how much water might already be in the ingredients. In fact, it’s better to add some, turn the mix, test it, and add more if needed. This is a judgement call, and an important one. Too much and the batch will not compost correctly.
How to Use It
This is the recommended method for using it.