Mr. Yoshimura, the chairperson of Kiwanosato’s village committee is a keen advocate of fungus and enzyme based organic growing. He introduced me to the homemade organic fertiliser, Ehime-Ai which was originally invented by Mr.Sogame in Ehime Prefecture.
Mr. Sogame felt it was important to share his method of making this organic fertiliser with as many people as possible to encourage people to use less chemical fertilisers to protect the environment. For that reason, he never submitted the ingredients to apply for a patent and instead encourages people to mix for their own use.
Ehime-Ai can be used not only for growing healthier and tastier plants, it can also be used for cleaning your household, washing dishes, adding to your bath and deodorising household smells. The liquid contains beneficial bacterias that clean the land and the sea with its enzyme power.
Below are instructions on how to create your own batch of Ehime-Ai:
Quantities below make a 500ml batch of Ehime-Ai:
Natto*: 1 bean (use only the slimy substance, not the bean itself）
Dry yeast: 2 – 3 grammes
Yogurt: 25 grammes
Sugar: 25 grammes (any sugar is fine but brown sugar is better)
Water: 450ml (35℃)
A 500ml size empty plastic bottle (recycled if possible)
* Natto – fermented soybeans, you can buy a pack of frozen one in oriental shops for around £2.00)
How to make it:
1 Mix the sugar and yeast in a bowl.
2 Add yogurt to the sugar and yeast and mix everything together.
3 Put 1 natto bean in a colander and set the colander over the mixture.
4 Pour 450ml warm water (35℃) over the bean and let the natto water drain in the bowl below containing the sugar, yeast and yogurt mix.
5 Remove the colander and gently mix everything together in the bowl. Pour the mixture into the 500ml plastic bottle.
6 Loosely put the cap on the bottle and keep in a warm place. Ideally the temperature should be kept between 30℃- 40℃ if possible for a few days. As I didn’t have any equipment to keep the temperature at this level, I instead wrapped the bottle and left it in a warm corner in the Kitchen.
7 When it is ready, keep the cloudy liquid and the cream paste separately to use them for different purposes (see below).
How to tell if its ready:
If you are able to check the ph balance of the mixture (you can buy a kit at your local chemist), it should be between 3ph to 4ph. If you cannot check the ph balance with a kit, it should smell ‘sweet and tart’ when it’s ready. Mine was ready to use in just two days.
*If you wish to make this mix so it is ready to use within 24 hours, use a half of the warm water (200ml) when you pour over the natto bean in step 4. After 24 hours, add the rest of the water (35℃/250ml) and gently mix.
How to use the fertiliser:
You can spray this cloudy liquid on your plants but also use for washing up, or to deodorise your rooms or in your bath by diluting the final mixture 100 to 500 times – but there is no harm in using it in its original strength too.
The thick creamy paste can be used for mixing with the soil for plants and in house cleaning.
Mr. Yoshimura’s advice:
“If you put one cup of Ehime-Ai in the bathtub you can use the same water for a few times as the water will be cleaned by the bacteria. After draining you need not scrub the bathtub.”
“Spray over odd smell (e.g. bins, or rooms), it will disappear.”
“To protect from odd smells when you dry your washing indoors, put one cup into the washing machine.”