Category Archives: Book and Movie Reviews

Bokashi Composting Book Review

This Bokashi Composting book review covers the book by Adam Footer: Bokashi Composting.  It was published in 2014.  Bokashi composting is a different approach to composting using anaerobic microbes.  These are microbes that live without oxygen.  I would like to share some thoughts about this book.

Bokashi Composting Works by Fermenting

Bokashi composting was started in SE Asia and Japan. Not many people in the United States have heard of it.  It is a form of composting that uses a specific set of microbes that work anaerobically.  These microbes ferment the kitchen scraps which actually means the scraps get pickled.  The pickled product of Bokashi composting is then buried in the soil. It breaks down much faster than regular kitchen scraps according to Adam Footer.

Microorganisms Used in Bokashi

The set of microbes is called EM1 or  essential microorganisms.  These are defined as a group of symbiotic microbes.  Symbiotic means that they live together in an interdependent relationship.  They are used with  kitchen scraps and manure to ferment them.  They can also be used as a starter culture to make bokashi bran.  The microbes are a blend of lactic acid, bacteria, yeast and phototropic bacteria that work together as a group.  They have the ability to dominate or out-compete other microbes reducing odor and disease.

They were discovered and developed by Dr. Teruo Niga in Japan in the 70’s and 80’s.  Dr. Higa was working to get away from farming with synthetic chemicals.  He was looking for a more natural way to nourish plants.  EM1 is used in over 120 countries worldwide.  Farmers across Asia had practiced various forms of fermenting organic waste for generations using local microorganisms from the air, soil or leaf mold.  The process is similar to using local wild microorganisms from the air to make a sourdough starter.

The Bokashi composting process is said to take about 6 weeks:

  1. 2 weeks of collecting food scraps in a 5 gallon bucket layering with EM1 bokashi bran between each addition.
  2. 2 weeks of letting it sit to process and ferment
  3. 2 weeks of being buried in the soil

Then voila you have great compost for your soil.  I am experimenting to see if this is true.  The Compostumbler advertising says you can get compost in 14 days.  I have never accomplished this but with the exact right conditions it might be possible.

Bokashi Composting Book Review Shows the Table of Contents

Demonstrating how Adam Footer covers all aspects of this type of composting:

  1. History
  2. the Science Behind the process
  3. Shows how to make Bokashi Bran
  4. Covers the Fermentation bucket with instructions to make one yourself
  5. How to Use Bokashi Bran to Compost Kitchen Waste
  6. How to Use the Fermented End product
  7. About the Liquid By-product

So as you can see this book covers everything you could ever want to know about implementing Bokashi Composting.  I highly recommend reading it if you are interested in doing Bokashi Composting.  Here is a great blog on Bokashi composting with lots of comments.

Bokashi Composting Book Review

Here is a picture of my Bokashi bucket after 4 weeks.  There is parsley and onion skins on the top looking quite normal except for the brown Bokashi bran sprinkled on top.  There is no rotting odor which is amazing after 4 weeks!   In my next post I will continue with a Bokashi composting book review as he compares Bokashi composting with traditional composting.  I think he is heavily weighted towards Bokashi making some statements I wouldn’t agree with.

More posts on Bokashi:
Bokashi Composting Advantages
Disadvantages of Bokashi Composting
Burying Bokashi Compost

Great Kapok Tree Book Review

The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry is a magnificent book with a timely message about saving the Amazon Rain Forest.  Children and adults will love and enjoy this book.  This quote is from the inner book jacket,  “With her lush paintings of the Amazon rain forest, Lynne Cherry has created a magical tale with a conservation message that speaks to both children and adults.”

The story presents the plight of the Amazon rain forest and its creatures in a unique way.  In a charming and poignant tale Lynne Cherry presents much educational information about the rain forest. A man is brought into the rain forest with the specific job to cut down a Kapok tree.

The Great Kapok Tree is a Very Large Tree.

The Kapok tree is a very large tree and after chopping for a while the man lays down to take a nap.  It is tiring work.  In the course of his nap all the inhabitants of the Kapok tree and the forest come to the man to present their case to save the tree.

It is very educational to see how many diverse and different lives would be affected by the loss of the tree including people’s lives.  In their pleas we learn a lot about the rain forest and how valuable it is.  When the man wakes up he continues to chop down the tree but then, inexplicably, stops, drops the ax and walks out of the forest.  All the animals and insects had presented their case very effectively and the man no longer wants to cut down the tree.

We get to meet all the creatures by way of the book’s amazing  illustrations.  Ms. Cherry went to the Amazon rain forest for research in order to paint the illustrations. Some of the same animals visiting the man during his nap actually came down and visited Ms. Cherry. She wanted to experience the rain forest firsthand so she went into the forest by jeep. She spent a few weeks taking pictures and drawing the animals she observed.

You can actually listen to the story and see the art work by clicking on the YouTube link below.  The story is charming, enjoyable, captivating and educational.  If you would like to purchase it for your home library you can click on the picture below or this link The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest.

The Great Kapok Tree has several awards:

  • NSTA-CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children
  • American Bookseller’s Association “Pick of the Lists”
  • International Reading Association Teacher’s Choice.

For more information on the Kapok tree you can click on this link.


How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin Book Review

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara and illustrated by G. Brian Karas is a charming book with several great teaching opportunities.  The story is about Mr. Tiffen’s elementary school class and what they learn about pumpkins, math and other great life lessons.  Mr. Tiffen brings in 3 pumpkins, one small, one medium and one large.  He wants to know how many seeds are in each pumpkin.  Does the size of the pumpkin make a difference?  The underlying theme of the story is about being small.  Is being small a bad thing?  Everyday Mr. Tiffen lines up the class from the tallest child to the shortest child.  The shortest child in the class is Charlie and he feels bad because he is always at the end of the line.

How Do We Count How Many Seeds in A Pumpkin?

Mr. Tiffen wants his class to guess how many seeds are in each pumpkin.  This task brings in the concept of estimation.  He provides a hands-on experience where the children actually take all the seeds out of each pumpkin.  Of course, this is a very messy, slimy job as anyone knows who has taken the seeds out of a pumpkin.  The class did a good job though and got all the seeds out.  Then for homework they had to think about how to count all the seeds.

Ideas on How to Count the Seeds

The children came up with the idea to do skip counting, that is to count by 2’s, 5’s or 10’s.  So they count the largest pumpkin’s seeds by 2’s, the medium’s by 5’s and the smallest by 10’s.  This is a very concrete math lesson on counting, skip counting and how skip counting in the end makes it easier to count all the seeds. If you order the seeds in groups then it makes it easier.  Just imagine if you lose your place half way through and you have to start over.  If the seeds are in groups it is faster to count them again.

The Smallest Pumpkin Has the Most Seeds!

The smallest pumpkin has the most seeds which surprised everyone in the class.  This is a help to Charlie, the shortest kid in the class, because he says, “Small things can have a lot going on inside them.”  This is a wonderful lesson for him to learn!

There are several good learning experiences that are brought alive in this book:

  1. Simple facts about pumpkins
  2. Mathematical concepts become more real:  counting, estimating, skip counting
  3. Children experience the benefits of using these counting methods.
  4. Positive emotional feelings about being small
  5. Advantages of working together as a group
  6. Good tactile experiences as they clean out the pumpkins

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? is a great story and classroom activity for elementary age school children.  For more details see The Pumpkin Project:  Math, Science and Fun.  If you would like to order a book click on the image below.