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Plant Alchemy With KNF: Korean Natural Farming And Jadam

Azimuth

Well-Known Member
KNF, or Korean Natural Farming is a practice that is gaining more popularity among organic growers as it seeks to use naturally occurring plants and microorganisms to help plants grow.

It generally uses the magic and alchemy of plant extracts made using mostly brown sugar, vinegar or alcohol to extract the goodies out of the plants. The output is often a liquid of some sort that is very concentrated, and therefore potent, and highly available to plants. Suggested usage rates are 1:1000. I generally go a bit stronger at 1:750 which works out to about 1tsp per gallon (1/4 tsp/L). A little goes a long way. So, 1 gallon of extract will make 750 gallons of infused water to feed your plants.

In her excellent thread ( Emmie's Backyard Fermented Plant Extracts From Dandelions! ) @Emilya shows how to make and store these magic elixirs. In it, she highlights the "Mighty Dandelion." Dandelion is one of the major "plant accumulators," which are plants known for their ability to mine and store a wide variety of nutrients and minerals in the flowers, leaves , stems and roots. Other significant plant accumulators include comfrey, stinging nettle, and dill.

Below I show the numbers sourced from a book called "The Regenerative Growers Guide to Garden Amendments" by Nigel Palmer. In it he goes into detail on the why's and how's of plant extracts, including those using brown sugar, water, vinegar and alcohol. Each has its place and I'd refer you to the above linked thread for Emilya's tutorial to make your own.

If you were going to use a single plant to make extracts to feed your plants, dandelion is a great choice. Stored in its leaves, flowers, and roots are a wide variety of minerals in a pretty good balance and at levels that are higher than most plants.

However, based on the data listed below, I'm going to suggest a couple of ways to improve on her "Mighty Dandelion" by using a combination of two different plants. These combinations provide even higher levels of most of the important goodies, are easier to harvest, and provide a much larger mass at harvest time which will provide for more liquid end product for those with larger plants and gardens.

My favorite combinations are (1) Comfrey/Horsetail Fern, and (2) Stinging Nettle/Chickweed, although a good single source input is actually cow bone extract from vinegar and, of course, what is considered to be the best of the best, a brown sugar fermented fish extract made from deep ocean blue fish like mackerel or sardines.

Comfrey/Horsetail Fern is my favorite combination. Comparing the average of the two combined plants to dandelion, they are higher in P, K, Ca, Mg, Fe, and about equal in Si, and S. They are also much lower in Cl, Na and Al (which I consider a good thing). AND, at harvest time, a single comfrey plant can be equal to many dozens of dandelion plants providing much more mass for your end product. And the other, Horsetail Fern, is super simple to harvest with your bare hands.

My second favorite is S.Nettle /Chickweed. This two plant combo is about equal in P, but higher in K, Ca, Mg, Fe, S, Na, and lower in Si, Cl, and Al. The challenge I have with this one is it is super high in Fe, Cl, and Na, with the Fe at levels that are many multiples above where most plants are and I wonder if it is too much. This combo is also easy to harvest in large amounts.

Cow bones by themselves are high in P, K, Ca, MG, and Na, while a bit light on Fe, and Si.

Or, you could simply do single plant extracts from any of those shown and know generally what your goodies list is.

Keep in mind that the table comes from a lab analysis the original author had done and YMMV. The numbers are in ppm, using brown sugar to make an fpj (fermented plant juice), except for the cow bones which are extracted with vinegar.

.................................P.............K..........Ca..........Mg..........Fe.........Si...........S.............Cl...........Na.........Al...
Fish (FAA)............836.8......1,013....718.8.......105.7.....2.57.....0.29....127.2......1,000.....109.3.......1.31

Comfrey..............270.8.......1,025....31.52......34.15.....2.06.....15.4......8.32............80.......0.58......0.31
Horsetail Fern.......42.1.......876.5....358.1......90.92.....6.74.....28.8....56.79.........300.......1.11......1.15
.....(av).................156.45.....950.75...194.81.....62.53.......4.4......22.1....32.51........190.......0.84......0.73

S.Nettle...............35.34..........376........861.........141.....1.57.....24.6.....70.17.....1,050......0.55.........0.9
Chickweed..........205.2.......1,277......6.84.......13.52...163.9.....13.5......18.88.......250....54.47......3.07
....(av).................120.27.......826.5.....433.8.....77.26...82.74....19.05.....44.53.......650....27.51......1.98

Dandelion......... ....128...........485........143......53.4.......3.17.......28.........33.5....1,340......3.25.......2.51

Dill.......................155.2........1,157.....167.5....55.35.......6.19.......7.6......46.24.......275......4.89......0.45

Cow Bones ........509.2........618.8.....1,691....453.5.....1.39......4.66.......24.81.........26.....95.44.......1.3
 
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StoneOtter

Member of the Month: July 2019, Sept 2020 - Grow Journal of the Month: Nov 2019 - Plant of the Month: April 2020
Hey Azi, thanks for bringing this up. Do you have a grow going like this? I'd like to follow it. I read that book and had a hard time with it being over my head but I do think some of the goodness will benefit my LOS garden. I use the L.A.B.'s in all my grows and I see more in the future.
 

Azimuth

Well-Known Member
Hey Stone,

Not these particular extracts yet. I'm using some of the other ones like aloe and kelp now and the plants really seem to like it. I've also made the three part dandelion extracts and use them as well. I don't have any journals up yet for security reasons.

I did most of my research over the winter and am going to make the comfrey/horsetail fern extract this summer.

I did start on the horsetail fern this morning actually. Filled a 5 gal bucket about 3/4 full of ferns in about 15-20 mins. Processed down to about 2 1/2 gal in the jars and I'm hoping to get 1/2 gal of finished extract from it.

I had to order some comfrey root as I didn't have any and planted that in my garden this spring. Its just starting to come up and I hope to harvest the first round in another month or two. They say you can get 2-3 harvests a year and the plant will grow to 3 feet wide and 3 feet tall. Filling a 5 gal bucket with that should take all of 5 minutes.

I'm excited to use the combo on the plants. @Emilya used the dandelion version of this in some of her grows. In the thread I posted above she makes reference to them so I'm sure one or more of her journals has a play by play. She has stated she was quite pleased with the results, although she uses them more as supplements rather than a full nute program as she is an ONF (Organic Natural Farmer) combining organic gardening with microbes and amended soil along with the Korean Natural Farming concepts. She can weigh in with more detail, but for an organic grower, these diy nutes are awesome as long as you get the right inputs, which are essentially the major dynamic plant accumulators. The combo's I'm suggesting above have a great combined nutrient profile so the plants should really like it.

In another couple of weeks I'm going to make another extract from willow that I plan to combine with my aloe extract to use as a cloning aid. Just have to wait for the new spring growth to get a bit longer. Its been a pretty cool spring so far and we haven't seen enough progress yet.
 

StoneOtter

Member of the Month: July 2019, Sept 2020 - Grow Journal of the Month: Nov 2019 - Plant of the Month: April 2020
Hey Stone,

Not these particular extracts yet. I'm using some of the other ones like aloe and kelp now and the plants really seem to like it. I've also made the three part dandelion extracts and use them as well. I don't have any journals up yet for security reasons.

I did most of my research over the winter and am going to make the comfrey/horsetail fern extract this summer.

I did start on the horsetail fern this morning actually. Filled a 5 gal bucket about 3/4 full of ferns in about 15-20 mins. Processed down to about 2 1/2 gal in the jars and I'm hoping to get 1/2 gal of finished extract from it.

I had to order some comfrey root as I didn't have any and planted that in my garden this spring. Its just starting to come up and I hope to harvest the first round in another month or two. They say you can get 2-3 harvests a year and the plant will grow to 3 feet wide and 3 feet tall. Filling a 5 gal bucket with that should take all of 5 minutes.

I'm excited to use the combo on the plants. @Emilya used the dandelion version of this in some of her grows. In the thread I posted above she makes reference to them so I'm sure one or more of her journals has a play by play. She has stated she was quite pleased with the results, although she uses them more as supplements rather than a full nute program as she is an ONF (Organic Natural Farmer) combining organic gardening with microbes and amended soil along with the Korean Natural Farming concepts. She can weigh in with more detail, but for an organic grower, these diy nutes are awesome as long as you get the right inputs, which are essentially the major dynamic plant accumulators. The combo's I'm suggesting above have a great combined nutrient profile so the plants should really like it.

In another couple of weeks I'm going to make another extract from willow that I plan to combine with my aloe extract to use as a cloning aid. Just have to wait for the new spring growth to get a bit longer. Its been a pretty cool spring so far and we haven't seen enough progress yet.
Are you watching The Nutty Professor's journal? NuttyProfessor And His Herd Of Indigenous Microorganisms
He's doing all this and more as we type, and he's got some beautiful plants.
 

Azimuth

Well-Known Member
I read that book and had a hard time with it being over my head but I do think some of the goodness will benefit my LOS garden. I use the L.A.B.'s in all my grows and I see more in the future.
I know what you mean. The first half of the book is a bit of a slog, but the back half is where he shows all the how-to's. And digging through the tables in the far back of the book yields some interesting data.

Are you watching The Nutty Professor's journal? NuttyProfessor And His Herd Of Indigenous Microorganisms
He's doing all this and more as we type, and he's got some beautiful plants.

Not yet. Thanks for the link. I'll have a look.
 

Azimuth

Well-Known Member

Azimuth

Well-Known Member
Another really good combo looks to be Comfrey/S.Nettle. The two are very complimentary to each other. Really good Cal/Mag and less Cl, Na, and Al. Better P, K, Ca, Mg, S, but a bit lighter on Fe, and Si when compared to dandelion.

If you pick complimentary plants, i.e. where one is high for a particular nutrient and the other is low, you can get a pretty nice profile that is reasonably strong in most without having too much of any one thing.

I looked at the ppm's from products like Jack's and their P:K ratio was about 1:6, so any of the combos shown are about in that ballpark.

.................................P.............K..........Ca..........Mg..........Fe.........Si...........S.............Cl...........Na.........Al...
Fish (FAA)............836.8......1,013....718.8.......105.7.....2.57.....0.29....127.2......1,000.....109.3.......1.31

Comfrey..............270.8.......1,025....31.52......34.15.....2.06.....15.4......8.32............80.......0.58......0.31
S.Nettle...............35.34..........376........861.........141.....1.57.....24.6.....70.17.....1,050.......0.55........0.9
.....(av).................153.07.....700.5.....446.3......87.58.....1.82......20.0....39.25........565.......0.57.......0.61

Dandelion......... ....128..........485........143.......53.4......3.17.......28.......33.5......1,340.......3.25.......2.51
 
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Azimuth

Well-Known Member
For extracts, I would point you in the direction of @NuttyProfessor and @Emilya they both have been at it for quite sometime with undeniable success.

Thanks, PatP. I'm following Emilya's GSC comparative grow, and SO just turned me on to @NuttyProfessor . Looking forward to perusing his thread. Thanks for the head's up!
 

Azimuth

Well-Known Member
@StoneOtter @Pat Puffer Thanks for the referral over to the professor's thread. Very interesting, and great to know that you can indeed do an awesome entire grow on just the natural inputs. His plants look incredible.

There are two branches of the natural farming that come out of S. Korea.

The first is KNF (Korean Natural Farming), started by Hankyu Cho that uses locally sourced microbes and plant extracts. The extracts are made principally using brown sugar, vinegar, and alcohol to extract the essence of the plants and other inputs and convert them to a shelf stable, plant usable format. IMO, (indigenous microorganisms) are cultured using cooked rice and a collection box and then multiplied using sugars and then mixed into your local soils , etc.

The second is Jadam, started by Cho's son, Youngsang Cho, also using local microbes and plant extracts but this time using much simpler, mostly water, extractions. Cho wote a book called "Jadam Organic Farming," that the Professor references in the thread, that spells it all out. The book is written for farmers and most of the quantities produced are for much larger amounts than are useful for us gardeners.

The Jadam philosophy is to "look to nature" for guidance on how to approach your plants. Since there are no sugar ferments done in nature, there is no reason to do so in your garden and, he argues, that sugar makes the soil more acidic and the bad microbes generally are found in more acidic soils.

The book also goes into some detail on how to improve soils on your farm (tip: get down off your tractor and stop compacting your soils with your heavy machinery). There are sections and recipes for making a liquid microorganism drench using potatoes and leaf mold which is highlighted in the thread, many different kinds of fertilizers made using a water ferment, and an entire chapter for making natural pesticides targeted to specific pests and using locally found inputs.

So, two similar but different approaches, both culturing and using microorganisms, and both providing recipes for locally sourced various garden amendments and fertilizers. And I strongly recommend them both.

For me, I'm going with the brown sugar approach to ferments for several reasons.

First, the sugar based extractions provide a much better and more thorough extraction (like 8-10x better in many cases) of the various nutrients and minerals in the plant. Second, it does so in a matter of a week or two versus the many months required with the water version, and third, no offensive smells if done correctly. Since I live with others who don't share my gardening passions, the smell is an important consideration.

As demonstrated in the professor's thread, the water extraction produces incredible results, even at its "watered down" efficiency, so imagine what the more thorough sugar extracts could provide.

Also, I garden in very small pots and have been told by several of the experienced organic gardeners on this site that the size pot I use simply cannot hold the quantity of nutrients needed for a complete grow, and also is generally too small to support an active ongoing microbial population.

So, I'm actually thinking of trying the exact opposite approach. I wonder if one can do a decent grow with my limitations using only the fpe's (fermented plant extracts) and nothing else. Once my comfrey plants get large enough to get a harvest I think I am going to do a trial using an unamended seed starting soil mix, maybe just 50:50 peat/perlite or something, and the fpj's from the comfrey/horsetail fern combo and my other extracts and see how it does.

It would be more along the lines of simply using bottled nutes, but this time organically and locally produced that cost me basically nothing. The extracts produce plant available nutrients and, according to @Emilya , can interfere with the microbes, making them lazy and less efficient. I wonder if the extracts will work ok in place of them. (Heresy to us organic growers, I know...)

The challenge will be providing the plants with the nutrients needed at the time they need them, something that the micro herd does in its symbiotic relationship with the plant in an amended soil from the buffet of amendments that one adds at the start of the grow. So, it may not be quite as efficient, but can it be sufficient? If so, this might open up a level of organic gardening to the smaller gardeners that have limitations that have prevented them from going down this path.

So, in the name of science, I think I'm going to give it a go.
 
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StoneOtter

Member of the Month: July 2019, Sept 2020 - Grow Journal of the Month: Nov 2019 - Plant of the Month: April 2020

Azimuth

Well-Known Member
Started in on my Willow FPJ this morning before dawn. Filled a plastic grocery bag full of the new shoots, mixed them 1:1 by weight with brown sugar, and stuffed them into a 24 oz canning jar. Then I topped them off with a cap of brown sugar and added a paper towel lid. The shoots were 4-6 inches on average.

As of tonight the mass has already dropped by 20% or so in the jar. I'm surprised that happened so fast as I crammed them down pretty good to start.

My plan is to combine this with fpj's of aloe and seaweed to make a cloning aid.
 
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StoneOtter

Member of the Month: July 2019, Sept 2020 - Grow Journal of the Month: Nov 2019 - Plant of the Month: April 2020

Azimuth

Well-Known Member
The fermentation of both the Willow and the Horsetail Fern seemed to not be progressing as quickly as I would have liked, so I added some weight to the tops to help compress the material. Don't know why it helped, but seemed to get things moving a bit faster.

Also, got my Stinging Nettle seeds in the mail today so I'm going to get some of those started so I can plant them out.

I think my GoTo general purpose extracts are going to be various combinations of comfrey, horsetail, and nettle. They have different profiles so one can choose different levels of P, K, Ca, Mg, etc. depending on what's needed at any particular time.
 
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Bode

Well-Known Member
Highya Az,

Have you read any of the material in JADAM organic gardening? I used nettles, horsetail, dandilions, etc. last two years (growing in my garden). I did get some response from the plants, but something seemed to be missing. Mr Cho developed a microbial solution that jumpstarts anything better than I've seen before. The missing link, so to speak. Happy Smokin'
 

Azimuth

Well-Known Member
Hey Bode,

I've read the book a couple of times. I agree that the JMS may be the quiet key to the success of Jadam. The water ferments by themselves are a pale comparison to the sugar ferments of KNF, since they only extract the things that are water soluble, about 10% of what the sugar ferment gets.

BUT, the active microbes really seem to take it up a few notches based on the success so many people like yourself have had. I'm going to try it this year in my outdoor garden as soon as I get a barrel to use to make the fertilizer. Hopefully this weekend I'll be able to get it started.

I've got such poor soil, and I did make a batch of JMS to start the garden off in the spring, but I only did it once, and I know he recommends doing every few weeks at least.
 

Bode

Well-Known Member
He recommends every week with the JMS. I've yet to go over the info again to nail down some more details. Happy Smokin'
 

Bode

Well-Known Member
It's going to take awhile to get through it. But it's all natural, and anyone can do it, once understood! Happy Smokin'
 
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