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Growing People and Food Naturally

Chicks 4 Days Old


Wild chicks first venturing out of the nest will be following mama around eating bugs, grass & herb tips, fallen fruits, bulbs & tubers, worms, whatever they happen to find. Chicks this age should be getting a gnarly wild diet while the gut is developing so that they develop a full healthy gut. This is Natural Farming. How does Nature do it? That should be the whole of the discussion but let me illustrate my point with a story.

Chicks raised on commercial feed (grain) grow much shorter underdeveloped digestive tract. That means they have poor digestion no matter what you feed them. I have seen young roosters starve to death literally sitting on top of a pile of unlimited food. They had been fed a diet of commercial feed their entire life. They were unable to digest the real, whole food at their feet. I see commercial grain as the same thing as feeding a fast food diet.

Master Cho talks about feeding chicks brown rice and chopped bamboo leaves the first 3 days of life. When I was in Hawaii and ordered chicks, they were sent by air and were 3 days old when I got them. If I fed chicks that were more than 3 days old bamboo and brown rice most of them died.

A chick gets three days of nutrition supplied by the nutrients in the egg yolk. That is how they can ship chick from the Mainland to Hawaii without needing to feed them. They can survive the first 3 days without food. If their gut is primed with wild food, in Master Cho’s case hard to digest whole rice & bamboo leaves, then it primes the gut system that life is hard and the chick grows a full healthy gut system, able to digest almost anything edible. Later in life if that is the only food available they will be fine because they have developed a gut that can digest that kind of food.

The same thing happens with plants. If you plant a seedling in soft fluffy soil with all the nutrients it needs, it doesn’t need to develop a strong healthy root system. Why bother to spend effort and resources when life is easy?

Master Cho says he puts an uncooked brown rice grain in a newborn’s mouth every day. Why does he do that? A newborn can only digest mothers milk, not whole grains. He does it to prime the growing baby’s body that this world will be full of rice and you need to grow to be able to digest the food that you will be eating, and here, for you, it’s rice.

That is the purpose of feeding brown rice and bamboo to chicks from day 1-3. Life is hard. Get ready. On day 4, after they have depleted the nutrition of the yolk, they need nutritious feed, as they would naturally find in Nature as mentioned above.

Many KNF sources suggest 30% commercial grain feed. That is like saying that you feed your children good healthy organic food, except that you let them have McDonalds for one meal every day. How healthy are your kids going to be? How healthy are your chickens going to be? A lot depends on what you feed them early in life. It seems to be a better choice to develop a gut that can fully and properly digest food, rather than spend labor and resources to make food more digestible for chickens. Try to feed them a diet that is as natural as possible. Let your chicks grow a natural, healthy gut. What are you going to feed them? Watch newly hatched chicks that can freely roam. What are they eating? Nature has the answers.

Compost where you are


Did you know you can compost wherever you want to grow crops? Without waiting for compost?

This images shows seedlings flourishing in poor soil by growing on top of a layer of composting food waste. Below are 2 images that compare seedings of the same age and size planted on the same day. Photos were taken a week after planting.

Notice that the two seedlings planted in soil that covers raw compost is not only much bigger but looks much much healthier than the seedlings planted about a meter away in the same soil without any compost.

There are 2 ways I have successfully used compost in place. I’m talking about using raw compost, essentially whole kitchen and yard scrapes. These methods are useful when you don’t have animals to process kitchen and yard waste. Every kitchen has waste, and this waste is a resource. (These methods do require a yard. For those without animals or a yard a worm or bokashi bin would be the way to utilize precious kitchen “waste”.)

Method 1: Everyday put the kitchen and yard scrapes under a different tree (or shrub or bush etc). I rotate around so that every tree gets some compost in turn. I then cover with mulch, leaves grass, whatever is available. Avoid getting too close to the trunk. Around the dripline is best.

This mimics the natural process of fruit and leaves falling at the base of trees and plants. It’s quick. It’s easy. And it actually work.

Method 2: Plant over a new compost pile. This can be done by digging down or building a raised bed. In the area you wish to plant throw down your kitchen and yard waste. Cover with several inches of soil. If the soil is poor that’s okay. It’s about to get a lot better.

Bonus Method: In-Garden Vermicompost (Feed the Worms). I tried this method in my commercial tea field. After 3 weeks the tea plants with this treatment were significantly taller and bushier. I stopped when the mongoose found it. No other vermin was interested. How does it work?

Put kitchen scrapes in a blender with enough water to make a slurry. This breaks the food scrapes into particles small enough for worms to consume. Dump one container of food scrapes slurry per plant. Feeding the worms will improve the soil directly and will quickly increase your worm populations.

Just think, no more hauling, piling, turning, turning, and hauling again. No more compost piles, or as I call them, ‘Pile and Pray’. Now you can have compost happen right where you need it….just like it happens in Nature.

How do I get rid of pest & disease 4 rules


By reacting to a pest or disease with ‘What can I do to kill this’ the reaction comes from fear. OMG this is going to kill everything and I’ll never eat again!

Fear is useful for situations of danger. It allows you to rely on instinct when you come across a snake. It could be poisonous and kill you. You could run, try to kill or disable the snake, or freeze and hope the snake leaves you alone.

The fear response is designed to get proper action when there is no time to ponder best actions.

The problem with applying a fear based reaction to problems that are not a fight or flight survival problem is that logic and reasoning are left out of the response. In other words if you act out of fear you can make stupid mistakes. This is where capital Stupid mistakes can happen.

Pests and disease are not an immediate threat to your life. Use sound judgement and reasoning. Get sound results.

If you have a pest or disease problem there is a reason why. You always want a little pest and disease pressure around. It makes plants and animals stronger just like humans build an immune response to getting a cold. We don’t get the same cold virus to infect us again because our body learned how to destroy it.

Pest and disease is also good in small amounts because the “good guys” need something to eat or they will leave or die, leaving plants without a defense force. In animals this would include surface and gut microbes.

‘But all my strawberries are full of mold.’ You definitely have a problem. Most people panic and want to know how to kill the mold. This is a fear based reaction. Just attacking the mold is a fear based reaction. Logic and reasoning are better tools.

The logic and reasoning reaction is to figure out why the mold likes your strawberries so much and figure out a way to change the system so mold is no longer happy on your strawberries. So many times the things we go after in food production are the symptoms and not the real cause.

So what to do?

1. Don’t panic
2. Logically assess the problem and contributing factors. Do this in the field with your plants and animals. Don’t ask the internet machine for other people’s fear based solutions.
3. Once you think you know what is wrong, try to fix what you think is wrong. If it helps you were right. If not perhaps you were right but other things are still wrong. Trying ideas is how you learn how your food system grows. It’s not the same for me as it is for you. Don’t fear trying your ideas, but you might want to try on a small section first. If you are paying attention to your growing system you are probably right. If not try something else.
4. Here is a story from Gil Carangdang. He was visiting a farmer who was complaining that part of his field wasn’t growing well. He insisted Gil tell him what’s wrong. Gil responded that he didn’t how what was wrong and maybe he should to pray to God for the answer. In desperation the farmer looked to the heavens…..and saw that the poorly performing part of the field was too heavy shaded.
#morelofthestory Let Nature be your expert and teacher

Choosing Plants in Natural Farming


When practicing Natural Farming you literally need to step back from the trees and see the forest. Modern science is based on reductionist theory. Things are taken apart, dissected, parts are tinkered with to figure out how they work. This method has served mankind well. But now it’s time to to put the pieces back together.

Natural Farming is the science of putting the pieces back together into a holistic ecology. Our goal is to mimic nature. Some feel it is not a scientific approach to ignore species and specific nutrients. Think of it this way.

You’re driving a car in a busy city, waiting to make a turn across traffic. When do you turn? The consequences are dire. If you make a mistake an incoming car can crash into you and possibly kill you. Yet people make these decisions all over the world every day and only a tiny fraction end in crashes. So drivers are pretty good at this.

How do they make to decision? Do they use math? Do they calculate the velosity of the oncoming car, the distance away, the traction of the tires on each car, the effects of roadway conditions, acceleration rates? All the complicated math can be calculated after an accident. But the driver making the turn does no math, only makes an educated guess even though lives depend on it. Drivers learn from experience to estimate speed and distance and acceleration rates.

And nature is even more complicated, quantimly complicated. So what do we do? How do we make educated decisions without knowing all the particulars? How do we choose which plants to use?

I see so many Natural Farming practitioners bogged down in ‘what is this’ and ‘what species is that’ and ‘how does this work’?

Step back from the tree and look at the forest. The answers you seek are not in the massively complicated details, but are in the patterns of the natural world.


When considering which plants to use, consider medicinal vs tonic qualities. A medicinal plant would be one used to treat acute conditions, stopping a cold virus for example. Most medicines work by being toxic in some way. The best work on the pest or disease, not the host being healed. But still they work by toxic actions.

Tonics on the other hand are used regularly, even daily, and over extended periods of time. Tonics do not stop a cold but taking the tonic increases health & vitality, even longevity, preventing the cold. They do not work by a toxic action but by fortifying and harmonizing. Master Cho’s Oriental Herbal Nutrient OHN, for example, is a fermented extraction formula of the herbs he thinks are the best, most powerful tonics. He advocates taking some every day, giving to plants and animals every day, feeding to microbes as well, not for any specific action, but because the strengthen, harmonize, tonify.

If the plant you want to use has toxic actions it’s best not to feed plants on your weekly feeding routine. But a medical plant Fermented Plant Juice FPJ would be great to make and use when it’s helpful properties are needed. For an every week FPJ plant you want one that works like a tonic.


When choosing plants to make into inputs let the pattern tell you what to use. Fast growing plants are used to encourage green growth. Fruit are used to set and ripen fruit. But there are endless patterns to use.

For example I had a miracle berry bushes that was tight and slow growing. The nodes were too close causing it to choke and suffer from fungal problems. I wanted the bush to open up, lengthen the node spacing, give it a chance to grow. My solution? I looked around for a fast growing, leggy plant with long spaces between nodes. I ended up choosing a vine. I don’t remember which one and it doesn’t matter. After giving the miracle berry some vine FPJ and the bush opened up and started growing. I saw the pattern “leggy” and put it where I wanted a change, “compacted”. My compacted then grew longer nodes, became a healthy bush, and started soon after giving berries. You don’t get these kind of results looking at plant nutrition. It was actually a hormone that helped in this case. I knew gibberellic acid would work. But instead of spending hours researching sources of gibberellic acid and ways to extract and use it, I just looked around for the pattern I needed, leggy. The pattern approach is easy and highly effective.


The pattern approach can be used for specific crops as well. Tomato ferments are great to grow tomatoes. I suggest making separate inputs for each stage of life as hormones, enzymes, co-factors etc. all will change over the life cycle of the plant. Use young plant thinnings to make an FPJ for young tomatoes. Make another from tomato plants just starting to bloom to use to induce flower growth. To get the fruit to set use a green tomato Fermented Fruit Juice FFJ from green tomatoes. Switch to ripe tomato FFJ to help fruit ripening. The pattern here is “same-same”.

If you want to be a Natural Farmer, effective & efficient, look at patterns not details.

1. Science does not yet understand microbial ecology. It’s new science and the tendency is to take it apart, not put together a holistic system. The systems approach defies the scientific method.

2. It is impossible to learn everything in one human lifetime.

3. Effectiveness is the measure of truth. Look for patterns. Test them. See the truth. Be effective & efficient. That is being a Natural Farmer, one working with nature instead of against her.

Resurrection Juice


Natural Farming inputs are all about giving plants what you want them to do. You don’t need to know anything about the biochemistry to figure out effective inputs. It’s all about the patterns in nature. Using the power of patterns is how I found Resurrection Juice.

People often ask if using so-and-so plant is good for making a fermented juice. It depends on what you want to use it for. What is the plant good at?

For example I had a miracle berry bush that grew tight, with short nodes*. It didn’t get air or light in the center of the bush and didn’t produce berries. I needed it to open up, to have longer nodes. As a scientist I know gibberellic acid is a plant hormone that will give longer nodes. It’s used on grapes because if the cluster of grapes is too tight they mold. But I didn’t go out and buy gibberellic acid, and I didn’t look up which plants have it.

As a Natural Farmer I looked to the pattern and found a plant with really long nodes, made a fermented juice from that, and gave it to my miracle berry bush. And like a miracle it started growing longer nodes, opened up, and from then on produced berries prolifically. In this case a single application was all that was needed.

Years later we were cutting down koa haole trees (Leucaena leucocephala). But of course they want to grow back. When I saw the shoots growing out of the cut trunks, I saw a pattern. The tree was trying to resurrect itself. As resurrection could be a useful tool I made a fermented juice from the soft growing tips of the koa haole re-growth, collected before sunrise so that the growth factors would still be active.

Resurrection Juice is now a permanent part of my system. I use it for plants that need to be brought back to life or are trying to come out of dormancy. I find it highly effective.

What is the pattern of koa haole that makes it good for Resurrection Juice? It’s a fast growing weedy tree, a pioneer species, and it will vigorously regrow from its roots if cut to the ground. It’s a legume, a type of mimosa. The part that is used for this purpose is the young soft tips of the shoots that spring from a cut trunk or root, again, collected before sunrise so that the growth factors are active.

So what plants do you have that show a talent for something useful? Look for patterns and give it a try.

*the part of a plant stem from which one or more leaves emerge, often forming a slight swelling

Good Morning Moringa


Good morning moringa! Added raw Fiji sugar massaged, then stuffed in a jar with a sprinkle of sugar on top. Now to cover with cloth and let the microbes do magic.

Moringa is a low yield #fpj fermented plant juice but it’s so high value it’s worth it. Most of it we consume but the plants love it too (green vegetative growth). Sometimes we make it into a potent medicinal tonic (like OHN). Good stuff!
#knf #moringa #microbialmagic

Helping the bees!

Helping the bees

It’s been 6mo since we’ve had a good rain. The native bees are understandably thirsty…and hungry. We’ve been making sure they have water to drink in places they won’t drown. (Bees drown extremely easily.) And we’ve been letting them have some of our bananas.

These native bees are clever and can eat fruit when nectar is not available. They absolutely love! pineapples and bananas. We once lost an entire bunch of bananas to the bees. The first day it was just a few bees. This species is extremely mellow and they tolerated when you put your hands in with them and pulled off a few bananas. By the end of the day there were a lot of bees and it was making me just a little nervous pulling out bananas for an afternoon snack. I’m allergic to bees. Once I even grabbed a banana and had 3 or 4 bees under my fingers and they started wiggling around. They didn’t sting, probably figured there is plenty of bananas to go around. By the next morning the whole hive settled in, perhaps more than one hive, and started munching away. I just didn’t dare pick any more bananas with hundreds of bees eating from the hanging bunch of bananas. They literally chewed through the skins and dug into the ‘meat’.

Once the bananas were well past ripe I dropped them into a huge jar I have (over 20 liter/5gallons, it was a huge bunch) and made FFJ Fermented ripe banana juice. The enzymes from the bees changed the color of the bananas and thereby the juice. I ended up with a huge batch of very special FFJ-Ripe-Banana.

Back to the video. I just wanted to let you get to know a little about my bees first. I made a large batch of FPJ Fermented Plant Juice from some banana flowers. One flower bud was particularly large. The flower shoot was over a meter long. I’ll cover why the flower bud was so big in an upcoming post. Needless to say I ended up with a lot of banana flower dregs and I don’t have chickens here at the moment, so I decided to offer them to the bees.

We dumped out the banana flower FPJ dregs. Soon we heard the loud drone of tons of bees. They got some sweet moisture, and everyone was happy.

When offering bees water it’s good to add a tiny bit of BV Bio-Vinegar such as BRV Brown Rice Vinegar, Banana Vinegar, or raw Apple Cider Vinegar. According to the research Master Cho is doing a component pH is a big factor in risks for bee decline. DO NOT use commercial white vinegar. It’s a petroleum product and makes a great herbicide, by the way. I will put together the recipe for Bees from Master Cho. Put the water in a shallow dish filled with smooth rocks that come just up out of the water so the bees can drink without drowning. If you’re interested in the recipe just watch for the hashtags #lovebees #naturalfarming . Bee love!



Master Cho likes to compare plants and plant growth to humans. For one thing it makes it easy to understand. He is known for saying “Don’t make your plants fat.” What does he mean?

Nitrogen is given to plants to encourage growth. It gives them a dark green color and great growth. Then we wonder how to get rid of the bugs. We like to give plants nitrogen because we like to nice green color and the fast growth, but it turns out too much nitrogen makes plants, in Master Chos words, ‘fat’. And just like humans, plants that are fat are not healthy.

A ‘fat’ plant will bring in bugs, aphids, scale, white fly, beetles, sucking and chewing insects that come calling because they detect a sick plant. The chemical companies have convinced us that the darker the green the better. We can see results and think the chemicals are working. Then the pests come in and the chemical companies can then sell us all kinds of more chemicals to kill the pests. They tell us that nutrient deficiencies make plants unhealthy so we buy more fertilizers. But these plants are already over-fed! They make a lot of money and we think we don’t have a green thumb.IMG_20170314_192158

In this picture are two roselle plants. The one on the right is healthy and properly fed. The one on the left was given some nitrogen (organic fish fertilizer) and is sick, weak, and full of chewing and sucking insects. Notice there are no chew marks on the healthy plant. These two plants were spaced about an arms-length apart so it wasn’t because the pests did not find the healthy plant. Soon after this picture was taken the sick plant was dead. The one on the right received no fertilizer and continued to grow and produce.

Keep  in mind that nature is perfectly capable of fixing nitrogen and getting it to plants. Look at a lush green forest or other natural landscape. It grows perfectly even though no one is going through the forest with fertilizer. How? The air all around us is 78% nitrogen. There is no shortage of nitrogen. You don’t really need to even be concerned with nitrogen fixing plants, usually legumes. If you have proper microbial ecology in your soil the nitrogen will get fixed and your plants will uptake what they need. Microbial ecology is the key.

This is a major difference between Master Cho Korean Natural Farming SYSTEM (KNF) and other methods of growing plants, even organically. KNF is a system approach that relies on two components.

  1. Soil Foundation: Make sure your soil has high levels of ecologically balanced microbes, a healthy and alive soil.
  2. Nutritive Cycle: Give plants inputs that encourage the plants life cycle stage. The focus is not on NPK, trace minerals etc. That comes from having vibrant healthy soil. KNF inputs are not used for nutrition. They provide chemical signals, hormones, enzymes, co-factors etc. that will tell the plant what to do, eg. grow or make fruit. The nutrition comes from the soil.

So stop overfeeding your plants, reduce your pests, and save money.

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