Anton Reuven

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since Aug 26, 2020
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Recent posts by Anton Reuven

Hi folks, I just wrapped up documenting a two year project trying to adapt bokashi composting for humanure. It has been done, yes, but I wanted to do it with wild-cultivated LAB in a non-laboratory/non-professional context with ultra-cheap materials. The poop part didn't work out, but it did work very well for regular kitchen scrap bokashi.

What i've added to existing alt-bokashis is: Technical understanding of what bacteria we're cultivating, why, and how. More about alternative substrates and how/why to use them (beyond soggy clumps of newspaper). Not buying milk just to spoil it, but using kitchen waste itself to cultivate wild LAB. And more.

I spent about 2 years trialing all this stuff, this seems like the best place I could share it, I think it is a decent jump ahead of what exists currently. Please try it out and let me know how it goes. The "how to" section is partway down, there are large parts in orange that are technical information you don't NEED to know to do it.

I do hope to see this method proliferate. It was a lot of work so I slapped a creative commons license on it at the bottom.

1 week ago
-thank you Timothy!

-S bengi: Most of the existing research so far has been batch-style, however this is inconvenient for a small household so ideally it will work both ways. The person who's been using a pet waste bokashi system and documenting it for years seems to fill up a bucket gradually then seal it up, with successful results.
I don't think this will work with a flush toilet.

-John: thank you so much for the idea of genome sequencing, it hadnt occured to me for some reason! As far as doing this through OSU, I don't have even an undergrad degree, so I was hoping to find someone with a degree to lend an air of legitimacy in order to be able to work through either a university or get an earthquake preparedness grant, or something like that. Are you connected with OSU at all or were just suggesting it because its close by?
3 months ago
Hello all, I'm sure the topic of bokashi-adjacent toilet systems has come up here, here's my addition to the bucket. I'm happy to define or elaborate on any jargon I'm using here (or just google it). This is a compilation of my notes and includes an ask for help at the end.

I've been working on a project incorporating some of the more obscure academic work on the topic, primarily from the world of ecosan and terra preta research, plus knowledge from KNF, bokashi, and permaculture wingnut youtube into a cheap, layperson-friendly system that can be used on a household basis in emergency and/or poverty scenarios. Or just for fun.

An ideal human waste sanitation system achieves these goals:
-odor removal
-sanitation through acidification, killing coliform, preventing water contamination
-soil production
-quick processing time

My goals that surpass what I know to exist so far, in combination, are a human waste sanitation system with:
-100% cheap and widely available inputs and equipment
-simple instructions
-results that can be verified by sensory cues, rather than lab testing
-(preferably) a system not requiring urine separation, though it may be desirable for weight reasons

Existing Systems

The modern Terra Preta system ( ) requires 3 steps: Biochar production and addition to human waste, lactic acid fermentation (LAF), and vermicomposting.  Vermicomposting and biochar production are complicated and, based on my reading, unnecessary for odor removal and sanitation. Of course, the biochar and worm composting add to the soil-building process, but are far less accessible processes than LAF.

Bokashi is a fermentation-based composting system in which laboratory grown Effective Microorganisms (EM), a combination of specific LAB, yeasts, and other bacteria, are propagated on wheat bran, fed a little molasses, making bokashi bran. The bokashi bran is then layered with food waste, left in a closed bucket for a few weeks, during which time it acidifies to pH 3 or 4. This "pre-compost" is too acidic to be used directly as soil, and is buried in the dirt to mysteriously de-acidify.
As far as I can tell, it's an overengineered/proprietary version of preexisting east asian composting systems reminiscent of a nuka pot.
The advantage of Bokashi over aerobic and anaerobic composting is that it doesn't offgas, doesn't lose any nitrogen, doesn't require much space except the burial site, and doesn't require large inputs of "browns."

There's a proprietary bokashi/EM system for "pet waste" available ( )  that at least one person has documented using for some years for human waste sanitation/soil production ( ) ( ). The system is similar to regular EM-Bokashi, except that it involves combining the bokashi flakes and molasses in a bucket half-full of water, dumping in accumulated "pet waste," and sealing it off. That is, instead of gradually layering food waste and bokashi bran.

This paper ( concludes that a combination of LAB starter, and either 50% poop/50% kitchen waste, or 90% poop/10% molasses, will successfully ferment and achieve low enough pH to kill coliform.

These papers are also relevant. They successfully test a system mixing 50% poop with 50% "fermented rice flour," though the fermentation process isn't explained. They bring up that that starch-based (or at least cassava) substrate attracts heterofermentive LAB (which produce CO2, bad) rather than homofermentive LAB (don't produce CO2, just lactic acid, good).

Anaerobic poop composting (in closed containers) produces methane which is sometimes intentionally done to capture methane for fuel.

The "classic" humanure system ( ) is widely used, and has a lot of problems:
-loss of significant of nutrients via offgassing, ie....
-greenhouse gas emissions
-requires lots of space and inputs
-year+ processing time

Alternative, cheap inputs

KNF-style lactic acid bacteria (LAB) preparations, and I believe Indigenous microorganism (IMO) preparations have been used successfully as a substitute for EM in bokashi-style composting. LAB and IMO are possible to prepare with cheap materials, excepting the milk the LAB preparation. This achieves the goal of cheap/available inputs. In KNF, LAB are cultivated by letting rice wash water sit out for a few days and go sour, then adding 1 part of this "serum" to 10 parts of milk, letting it separate, and extracting the liquid whey layer which is theoretically full of LAB.  

"People on the internet" bokashi composting using homegrown LAB: ( )
( ), and I believe KNF IMO. I'm sure there is a ton of information in Korean on adjacent or older systems.

I've made what smells and appears to be a LAB preparation from an alternative medium described here ( made of water, and small amounts of soy flour and sweet potato. The sweet potato/soy broth separates and drops from pH 6 to pH of 4 in 24 hours, as opposed to milk which takes far longer. This ticks the box of "media cheaper than milk." Though whey is plentiful in some agricultural areas, it isn't everywhere.

WTF am I doing

Pooping in a bucket, in various creative ways mixing existing, non-academic systems with my (limited) understanding of the academic research. Testing the impact of filtered vs tap water (chloramine) on starters, attempting to deactivate the chloramine. Testing different media for LAB cultivation.

As you can see, there are people using EM-bokashi to process human waste, there are people using homemade LAB to replace EM in the bokashi system, but no one is cultivating LAB for bokashi for processing human waste. Or, they are, but exclusively in the academic/international development world, and have not disseminated accessible information on the process.

While all of the above sounds great in academic papers, I couldn't rightly write up a pamphlet or give a workshop on the topic without proven, repeatable results in a non-lab setting. Despite all the promising research, I have not yet achieved fully acceptable results. But, I've only started doing trials recently after a few years of research. I may try to do some "testing" at a yearly hippie fest in these parts, I'm sure they'll be amenable and I have an "in" with the poop crew.

Why I need a trained microbiologist friend who's willing to help with this, hopefully living in Portland, Oregon (a guy can dream):

-I have random questions about the process come up, it'd be great to have someone to PM about it. I've taken nursing microbiology, but am often at a loss regarding baseline information
-Help decoding academic research
-While i'm intentionally doing this in a non-laboratory setting, I still need laboratory testing and verification of results to see if everything is going well, namely to correlate visual/smell cues to microbial changes. Would be great to have guidance on how/where to get testing done, or even better, someone with lab access...

Hope this all made sense, thanks for reading! Please tag or send over people you think would be interested and helpful.

3 months ago
Now taking appointments in Portland, OR for small tree (under 10', no ladder or climbing required) pruning. Japanese maples are my favorite, and you can't walk a block in Portland without seeing at least one in dire need of a prune. I'm relatively new to the business, have worked under arborists before, and am currently in the Merritt College aesthetic pruning program. To put this in context, a significant number of folks pruning smaller trees have no training whatsoever in the specifics of fruit tree or aesthetic pruning, but manage to get paid to do it anyway (poorly, that is)! I can teach you pruning basics for an additional fee.

For an estimate, contact:

What is aesthetic pruning, you ask?

"Aesthetic Pruning is the creative interpretation of small trees and shrubs. This living art form combines the artistic skill of the pruner, the essence of a tree, the science of horticulture and the needs of clients and surroundings.

With its foundation in Japanese garden pruning, bonsai and arboriculture, aesthetic pruning incorporates visual art and design principles to work with plant material within its unique setting. Due to the universality of its approach, aesthetic pruning benefits all situations and garden styles.

Aesthetic pruners focus their work on trees and shrubs under 15 feet tall. They are dedicated to the craft of pruning, versed in many styles and have a long term vision with an emphasis on health and beauty."

3 years ago
Hi everyone, this is my first post! I'm starting a garden in urban Portland, OR for the first time and looking for some permaculturish advice for how to prep my soil. I live at a rental, so who knows how long I'll be there tho I'm looking at hopefully 5+ years. I've taken college classes in propagation, soil science, and mushroom propagation, but this is the first time i've gotten to design and start a garden of my own from scratch. I'm also newish to the PNW and not too familiar with this climate & soil situation.

The current soil:
The yard (~1400 sqft) was used as a playground for a daycare for 10 years, which currently shutting down. Every year the operator has had a load of chips from chip drop dumped on the yard, and at some point he had "nontoxic playground sand" dumped, not sure what that is exactly, possibly feldspar. The ground is pretty compacted from kids running around, with almost nothing growing on it except some low non-grass weeds on the lesser trod areas, and from a quick squeeze seems moderately clayey.

I've read Gardening West of the Cascades front to back, and the thread about it on here challenging some of it. I'm worried about the symphlan thing, wondering if anyone has experience with that being a problem after 3+ years, or has avoided it somehow. Solomon's soil amendment recommendations are kind of intense but seem justified, esp given the regional deficiencies in relation to common garden veggies. I don't have a huge budget but i'm willing to pay for Complete Organic FertilizerTM if it's necessary (learning "good&fast" in the "good, fast and/or cheap" formula). Trying to execute a plan by late october to get the soil ready for planting an annual veggie garden in spring. Not planning on putting in many perennials since its a rental.


-from a permaculture perspective, what kind of testing if any should I do? Shake test, NPK, other, none?

-Are wood chips in portland generally softwood? And if so, are there mushrooms that are easy to grow in softwood/conifer chips to help break them down into soil?

-What kind of bed prep would you do starting in fall to be ready for spring annual veggie planting? I don't mind bringing in outside materials, but obv less effort is better. The ideas I have thus far are:

-Chip dump in fall+mushroom inoculation, then direct planting
-horse manure dump in fall, compost until spring & apply
-rototilling to 1' w/ solomon's recommended amount of COF, plant w/ fava beans to overwinter & till in in spring

-We're hopefully going to bring in some chickens in the spring, for some local fertilizer, and I'm also wondering how people have used/prepared their chicken poo for use in the garden.

-My fav vegs happen to be corn, beans, and squash. Has anyone had success with 3 sisters gardening here? It seems a little dark/damp, but a guy can dream....

Looking mainly for ideas from folks local to the PNW, preferably who've gardened in a spot longer than 4 years. If yr not but have some thoughts, please just let me know if it's coming from experience or speculation (not that the latter isn't useful, I just wanna know). Or, if there's a good PNW specific thread on this, sry if i haven't found it!

Thanks in advance! Also let me know if there's other details that would help in getting better advice
3 years ago