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Effective-Micro-organisms (EM) is a culture of different micro-organisms that
one adds to the garden soil, compost and kitchen waste or uses to spray plant
leaves. It improves the balance and diversity of the micro-organism life in the
soil - that is to say, the "health" of the soil is improved, and thus it's quality.
EM is used on and in the soil as well as upon the plant leaves to improve the plant
growth and quality as well as enhance the harvest in the allotment.
There are no genetically modified micro-organisms in the EM culture. It consists
of different types of micro-organisms found naturally in soil environments
throughout the world.
EM does not work in the sense that if it is used on the leaves or soil that there is
a direct influence on the amount and quality of harvest, rather the influence is
upon the roots. The plant makes larger root clumps and thus the harvest is
improved through an enhanced nutritional uptake. EM stimulates the growth of
the fine hair roots through which the "food" can be better absorbed from the
EM has several uses, a couple are: It aids the composting process and the
processing of vegetal kitchen waste (the liquid that results can be thinned and
used on the soil). Some farmers use EM mixed with cow or horse manure to
enrich it and help process it. Additionally, it is purported to have other uses but I
won't go into those here.
So how do you do it? What do you do? EM comes in a dormant liquid form. The
instructions explain how to mix this with, for instance, molasses (food for the
micro-organisms) and non-chlorinated water. When the suspension is maintained
at a certain temperature, the organisms begin to grow (like when making
yogurt). The resulting solution can then be further thinned with non-chlorinated
water for use. (Tap water has chlorine which inhibits and can kill the
organisms). The dilution of the solution varies, depending upon how and for
what you intend to use it.
This technique is worth trying at least for some flower and/or veggie beds, if
only for the fun of trying something new. It will not, in any case, cause your soil
There are many websites with loads of info about EM and many that sell it. You
can see a couple on the "Groene Links" page. See the button on the left side of
We have found a website that offers a free starters' kit to try it out (see the
picture below). You get a small bottle of dormant EM, a small bottle of molasses
and an air-trap. You only have to pay the sending costs. I don't know if they will
send it to an address outside Holland, but you can ask them via e-mail.
The pictures below were taken from the British magazine, "Kitchen
Garden" - May, July, August and September 2005 issues. The photos were
taken by Andrew and Carol Seall. The photos illustrate the difference
between inoculated and non-inoculated plants after being grown under the
same circumstances and for the same length of time.
Potatoes: roots with EM (Left)
have developed further than
the root clump (Right
excellent root forming
"Rocket": roots ABOVE
with EM, Below,
without EM, Below,
A free EM starter kit
from the emwinkel.*
Click on thumbnails to see
fotos in a larger format
What's on this page:
Making a Clamp
Soil is the very basis of allotment gardening. It isn't simply dirt that we walk around on but rather
a complex and fragile covering of the earth which gives nutrition to plants and serves as an
essential element of the ecosystem. There are several types of soil; however, we will just discuss
the type that exists or needs to exist on our allotments after a short description of soil in general.
All this info didn't just spring out of my head one morning when I woke up; rather, it is a
compilation of ideas and excerpts that I have come across in my search to learn more about the
very substance that makes gardening possible -- soil.
Much of the info was written in a scientific way,but I will try and relate what I learned using
regular language, so that we can understand what it is and how we need to treat it. A description
of how it is made, the layers, the nutrients, protection, feeding/care and some comments on
digging will be touched-on here.
What Is Soil?
Soil is composed of four main ingredients: Organic matter, broken-down rock, water and air. The
first ingredient (organic), refers to living or dead plant matter such as stems and leaves, dead and
decaying animal matter and small and microscopic living organisms. The second ingredient can be
in the form of minute sand grains to small stones, clay or silt. Stone is weathered by wind, water
and ice. The last two ingredients of the soil make it possible for things to decay and the
micro-organisms to live and function.
Some examples are bark, peat, bracken etc. These constituents are usually less nitrogen-rich than
a fertilizer or compost but have good potassium levels and are a source of humus. These additives
really help when you dig them into a heavy soil because they give it better aeration and a better
Don't Forget the Basic Essentials
The three main nutrients your soil must have are N P K, or Nitrogen Phosphorous and Potassium.
Nitrogen is necessary for stem and leaf growth. Phosphorous, which is needed to help establish a
good root system. Finally, Potassium is necessary for root and fruit crops because it is needed to
produce sugars and starch.
You can test your soil and if necessary add these elements. Some of the ways you can do this are
Many products can be stored in a clamp during the winter, such as carrots,
beetroot, onions, apples, pears, turnips, potatoes and even roots from
dahlia's and gladioli.
On the pictures you can see how we built a clamp for beetroots. Should the
leaves of the beetroots be taken off or not? Some say yes and others say no
because it can cause the beetroots to bleed. Still others say that they won't
bleed if you twist the green off instead of cutting. We chose the middle way
and cut the stems off near the leaves, leaving quite long stems on the
(1) First we dug a round hole approximately 30cm deep but square would
be fine too.
(2) On the bottom goes a layer of straw but since we didn't have straw we
used a pile of dry twigs.
(3) On this we piled the beetroots in a pyramid shape. This pyramid can be
half as high as the diameter of the hole so with a hole of 1m diameter, the
pile can be 50cm high.After this we covered the pile of beetroots with
another layer of twigs, best would be a layer of straw 15cm thick.
(4) After that, we covered the beets with a 15cm layer of twigs
(5) Then a layer of soil, again 15cm thick. It would be good to make a
ventilation hole in the middle and fill it in with straw.
(6) Finally we dug a trench around the clamp and the job was finished.
5 & 6
Making A Clamp
© sjoerd 2006-2016