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Make Your Own EM (Lacto Bacillius)

Discussion in 'Organic Growing' started by howmanymoreyrs, Aug 17, 2010.

  1. #1 howmanymoreyrs, Aug 17, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 17, 2010
    Lacto Bacillius Culture

    Ok, so I don't know if we can technically call it EM, but you get where I'm going with this. Apparently, the local microbes you get from this technique are better suited to your plants than a generic bottled culture. I'm making my first culture right now, but I wanted to share this so that everyone can benefit. Many people here have first hand experience with this, and Lumperdawg first mentioned it to me in the Soil Recycling Thread, via Gil Cardanang. This is just a simplified step by step that I snagged and decided to post here for the greater good. This stuff can be made for pennies, and I don't think it makes sense to throw down thirty bones a quart for the store bought version, ya know? So here goes...ENJoy!:wave:

    -------------Materials needed-------------
    ---rice (brown or white)
    ---jar with lid( i use 1 quart mason wide mouth jar)
    ---milk (any kind, but raw works best)
    ---strainer( i use a metal one from the grocery store really cheap)
    --- a 1 gallon container (optional....depending on if you want/need to make a lot )

    follow these easy instructions below.

    Now let me take the collection method and split it up some.

    Here’s a simple method of collecting this type of microorganism. Lactic acid bacteria can be collected from the air.

    1.Pour rice wash (solution generated when you wash the rice with water) in a container like plastic pot with lid.

    ---basically get some rice, get a jar, put rice and clean fresh water no chlorine and such. shake till the water turns foggy, strain into another jar.

    2.Allow air gap at least 50-75% of the container. The key here is the air space. Cover the (not vacuum tight, allowing air still to move into the container) container with lid loosely.

    ---like it says, the AIR is key as the air is full of microbes including lactic acid bacteria. just in low low concentrations but along with tons of other microbes, thats why were making more of them. i used a mason jar and had a gap with the lid.

    3.Put the container in a quiet area with no direct sunlight. Allow the rice wash to ferment for at least 5-7 days. Lactic acid bacteria will gather in 5-7 days when temperature is 20-25 degrees C.

    --- i put mine in a closet, the temp is more stable in there and doesn't have much variation. wait 7 days, youll see a thin layer of something on top.

    4. Rice bran will be separated and float in the liquid, like a thin film, smelling sour. Strain and simply get the liquid.

    ---like said you will see a thin layer of something( also remember everyone will collect different microbes, as we all live in different places, so your collecting microbes adapted to YOUR area, which makes this work even better.)

    5. Put this liquid in a bigger container and pour ten parts milk. The original liquid has been infected with different type of microbes including lacto bacilli. And in order to get the pure lacto bacilli, saturation of milk will eliminate the other microorganisms and the pure lacto bacilli will be left. You may use skim or powdered milk, although fresh milk is best.

    --- now just get something, anything to measure. either it be a spoon, a cup, a tablespoon, 1/4 cup doesnt matter( except the fact this will tell you how much you will have when done) ill use 1/4 cup for example. take one 1/4c of your microbes, now add 10 of them with milk.

    6. In 5-7 days, carbohydrate, protein and fat will float leaving yellow liquid (serum), which contain the lactic acid bacteria. You can dispose the coagulated carbohydrate, protein and fat, add them to your compost pile or feed them to your animals.

    --- now a week has gone by, by this time the milk will look like cheese at the top of the jar/container. but all goopy. you can either strain it or if you used a wide mouth jar, tip sideways slightly and you can slide a spoon under and take it all out at once. toss it in the compost pile and forget about it. ive never fed it to an animal so i dont know about that. edit: my chickens LOVE this stuff!!!

    7. The pure lactic acid bacteria serum can be stored in the refrigerator or simply add equal amount of crude sugar (dilute with 1/3 water) or molasses. Do not use refined sugar as they are chemically bleached and may affect the lactic acid bacteria. The sugar or molasses will keep the lactic acid bacteria alive at room temperature. One to one ratio is suggested although sugar, regardless of quantity is meant simply, serving as food for the bacteria to keep them alive.

    -- this is where everyone seems to be getting mixed up. the sugars are just for food. like you, they are organisms that need food. without it they will die and im pretty sure ( but could be wrong) that lacto b. isnt cannibalistic lol. now since your only making enough to use now, you dont really need to store any imo. unless you plan to use more in the next few days to a week add some sugar. now with the fridge and sugars it says "or" which is the key word. it says "the sugars keep them alive at room temperature" but like i said i always use it fresh, its cheap, and easy to make, and doesn't need to be applied every time. so why save some and take chances of using liquid with nothing alive or not nearly as many as the fresh stuff?

    8. Now, these lactic acid bacteria serum with sugar or molasses will be your pure culture. To use, you can dilute this pure culture with 20 parts water. Make sure water is not chemically treated with, like chlorine. Remember, we are dealing with live microorganisms and chlorine can kill them. This diluted form 1:20 ratio will be your basic lactic acid bacteria concoction. Two to four tablespoons added to water of one gallon can be used as your basic spray and can be added to water and feeds of animals.

    --- now that you have your culture, we go back to the measuring thing. so this is where you decide how much you really need. 1/4 cup + twenty 1/4 cups = 5 1/4cups. then your going to add that at 2-4 tablespoons per GALLON and then apply. so 5 1/4 cups in tablespoons is about 84 tablespoons. you can see where that is going. it adds up to a lot of final liquid to apply. so its easy to make enough for your needs with some basic math.

    9. Lactic acid bacteria serum can be applied to plant leaves to fortify phyllosphere microbes, to soil and compost. Of course, it will help improve digestion and nutrient assimilation for animals and other applications mentioned before. For any kind of imbalance, be it in the soil or digestive system, lacto bacilli can be of help.

    Try it out and report back!
  2. #2 sundance, Aug 17, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 17, 2010
    hm very interesting.

    id like to see if this works
  3. howmanymoreyrs

    At Southeast Asian markets you can easily find palm sugar (aka palm jaggery) in a 2 or 3 forms. This is a good carbohydrate to consider using as it's processed minimally which leaves the minerals and such intact.

    Using Gil's basic recipe you can use this serum to make bokashi bran and fermented plant extracts.

    Good choices for plants to use are stinging nettle, comfrey, alfalfa, dandelions, organic spinach, bananas, papayas, winter squashes (pumpkin is a good choice), etc. as well as the leaves and branches from harvested crops. Chopping up the plant as well as the roots and fermenting will give you a powerful agent to continue the health and viability from one crop to the next.

    In that same concept, taking some soil from a current crop which is healthy is a good source of humus for the initial steps of Gil's process.

    Lactic acid is effective at killing powdery mildew which is why you'll see folks recommending spraying milk on plants - this is just a very concentrated form.

    This process is far better than using EM-1 - no comparison at all. The difference is that Gil's method changes from batch to batch as the seasons change providing you with new additions of microbes from the atmosphere.

    You can increase the diversity of lactobacillus strains by adding anything that is fermented and does not contain preservatives. Miso paste, soy sauce, fermented bamboo shoots, organic beer, organic wine, organic vinegar, yogurt (especially the Bulgarian and Greek varieties), kefir, etc.

    You only want to add about 1/8th of a tsp. of any of the above - you're simply trying to inoculate the base recipe. This is added AFTER the initial brew is finished and you're now going to make Batch #2 using the same proportions of making AEM from EM-1 (2 parts serum, 2 parts carbohydrate and 20 parts water). This is when you would add plant materials to the new batch and as it ferments it's pulling out the desired agents leaving you with a very nutrient-rich lactic acid serum.

  4. howmanymoreyrs

    I failed to mention that taking seeds and sprouting them and once they get a tap root about 1/4" or so then add them to a new batch of your serum. The enzyme activity on sprouted seeds is off the chart.

    Alfalfa seeds are especially good for this process. Barley is another one to consider as well as broccoli seeds.

    Cheap way to get alfalfa extract into your garden processes.

  5. Guys, So I know I am grasping this idea correctly, this EM you are concocting is another way to create a beneficial microbe environment in your plants media, correct? :confused:

    Or, is this more as a natural pesticide, or both. As little as I have read on the EM-1 process, I am still a little unclear. This process of Howmany's seems like a pretty viable one that I can accomplish with my crazy work schedule.

  6. #6 howmanymoreyrs, Aug 19, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 19, 2010


    Yeah, its just a more effective way to introduce the beneficial organisms into your soil. It also is effective as a foliar spray and contributes to the overall health of the soil and the plants. What we are doing is collecting the local microbes adapted to wherever we live, versus a manufactured product from a source far away from our local environment. This is a nice quote I found in another thread, credited to LD of course.

  7. Great info! I'll be checking my local specialty market...there's a heavily Asian town about 10 minutes away. If people really start running with this info, all of it, the hydro-hucksters just may find themselves SOL!:D But that's a BIG dream...

    So, who will be the first to post their results? Everybody give it a go, it's cheapity cheap cheap, rice, water, milk...I'm still baking in the desert, and my rice wash is on day 10...I'll start posting mine when I get home. Good luck!
  8. A few months ago I was introduced to some 'fermented fertilizers' that were coming into the US from China. While their specific products had little interest for me generally, the concept of fermenting one's fertilizer mix as a way to extend it was an interesting area of study.

    I took 1 part of seed meal that I use and added to that 3 parts of a combination of rice hulls, rice bran and fir wood chips. I added the correct amount of AEM (Activated EM-1) and set it aside to ferment.

    When it hit <3.0 pH (actually it hit 2.8 pH when it was finally finished) I added this to the soil mix instead of the regular fertilizer mix. The amount that I added was 10% of the total humus content (EWC, thermal compost and Alaska Humus) and with such a low pH one would expect to see all kinds of problems what with 'nute lockout' and others horrors of growing cannabis.

    I am not experiencing a single problems with this test run - absolutely none.


  9. LD, how would you explain this? Is it directly related to the CeC buffer of the soil created by a (?)% of humus content? Thanks.
  10. #10 LumperDawgz, Aug 19, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 19, 2010

    It's directly related to the CeC of the soil.

    First let's consider the lactobacillus colonies contained in a fermented product. This group of bacteria are anaerobic. We consider them the 'good bacteria' because of their ability to preserve foods from a harvest - wine, beer, Asian food items like mesu and miso, kimchee, cheese, and even for baking bread when using a 'wild yeast' culture (much like making Gil's lactic acid serum) where the lactobacillus strains have a symbiotic relationship with the yeasts that are floating all around us.

    In a soil, these anaerobic bacteria are far weaker than the aerobic microbes roaming around. The anaerobic colonies provide a food feast and the aerobic colonies explode in growth at an incredible rate. Micro-organisms eat and they have to relieve themselves - exudes.

    Here's where the CeC comes into play.

    The base cations (Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and Sodium) are alkaline cations which are adsorbed onto either clay particles or soil organic matter and are held there by their + charge and the clay and organic matter's - charge.
    Plants and the soil's micro-organisms release cation nutrients from their exchange sites. Alkaline nutrients are held on with a fairly weak, static-electrical charge - they are 'adsorbed' and not 'absorbed' and these base cations are always moving around being drawn to here and there by other charged particles (both - and +).

    Plant roots and micro-organisms in the rhizosphere exude hydrogen cations (H+) and which is acidic and if there's enough H+ cations, some will surround a nutrient cation and will get closer to the negatively charged exchange site than the nutrient is, the H+ ion will fill that exchange site, neutralize the negative charge and the nutrient cation is now free of it's static bond and can be taken up by the plant or the micro-organism.

    It works specifically with the plant's roots because they expire or breathe out carbon dioxide (CO2) into the soil. CO2 when combined with water in the soil forms carbonic acid. The hydrogen ions from the carbonic acid replaces the cation nutrient at the exchange site. The Calcium ion that is helt to the exchange site has a double-positive charge (written as C++).

    When enough hydrogen + ions surrounds the C++ ion and when that happens some of the hydrogen cations get close enough to the negative ion in the organic mater and/or the clay particles, 2 hydrogen ions then replace a single Ca++ ion and the plant is now free to take the calcium up as a nutrient. Hydrogen = acidic & calcium is alkaline.

    That's the gist of it and this process is the how and why calcium (however you get there) keeps the soil's pH in balance.

    One thing to note, this cation exchange is not how most of what are generically referred to as 'nutrients' are made available to a plant. It's only a handful of minerals and not all minerals are part of this process. It's primarily Ca, Mg, Nl and K.

  11. #11 Possuum, Aug 19, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 20, 2010

    (just saving space in the quote)

    That’s very well put. I’ve read up on CeC since its introduction to me in the forum and it seems as if each time I do I pick up something new. Interesting. A couple of thoughts to perhaps discuss and round off a couple of edges of the concept.

    Specifically with the fermented fertilizer you made and the very high acid level, were you not concerned about Al being made available by such a very high acidic level? I’m thinking you may have not had much, if any, Al in your fertilizer mixture but when applied to your soil mix the high acid level would make any available Al in that soil mix ‘loose’ or available for plant uptake. I would like to understand more about why you might not be concerned about that. i.e. you estimated that your soil mix and/or fertilizer didn’t contain significant amounts of Al. I think we would all agree that too much Al is deadly for a plant.

    Another thought that’s twisting my brain is that of the impact high Ca has on the availability of P. I understand that high concentration of Ca do impede P uptake yet in your cation example the Ca++ aids in maintaining pH. What did I miss? Am I misinterpreting that high Ca content is a good thing?

    Finally, being somewhat facetious but not intending to be a wisenheimer, the discussion of the movement of these microbes, aions, ions, etc., seems to me to be somewhat how I view humans on earth in the context of the discussion of ‘space’ and 'universe'. All of ‘these things’ in our universe are just kind of moving around in a realm that the human mind can barely grasp. It’s fascinating really.

    Thanks and I’d like you sharing your thoughts on the two main questions above. The whole concept of ‘space’ and ‘universe’ is still out of my grasp to rationalize. LOL!

    Good stuff man!
  12. theres alot going on in this thread, its alot to take in

    but im making my rice wash tonight, we will see how this goes
  13. Possuum

    Aluminum is always a consideration especially in collidial mineral products (Azomite, bentonite, et al.) and because I'm not a chemist and don't understand all the ins and outs of fermenting these mineral amendments, I would NOT suggest that one use them in a fermentation process. The mineral amendments that one should be cautious are those that are volcanic in origin. These all contain some form(s) of clay - clay is a good thing. It can also bind the acidic cations (Hydrogen [H+] and Aluminum (Al++++) which is what happens in collidial mineral products.

    That doesn't mean you shouldn't use them - I just think that until some solid scientific information on what impact, if any, fermentation with a strong lactic acid component like found in Carandang's formula or the EM-1 culture might cause, some caution is probably best.

    I wouldn't recommend hi-dosing with any mineral. Earthworm castings (properly made) contain very high levels of calcium carbonate which is why feeding your worm bins with egg shells, oyster shell powder, limestone, etc. is important for 2 primary reasons - the calcium is necessary for worms to reproduce and the calcium particles provide grit for the worm's gizzard that allows the bacteria to finish breaking down the organic material. Much like a bird.

    If you're starting with viable EWC then the addition of any minerals other than glacial rock dust is probably not going to do much in the short term.

    If you're recycling your soils or in an outdoor garden the benefit will be down the road. In the short term earthworm castings have each and every mineral your plant needs. Couple that with plant-based soil amendments like kelp meal, alfalfa meal, et al. and your mineral component is complete.


  14. Possum

    Just to be fair to the many people that I drew information from, the concept of fermenting soil amendments was NOT an original concept, per se. The use of a wide variety of soil amendments was something that I pondered and then decided to give it a spin.

    One of the ideas came from a company down in California, Eco-Nutrients and they process both fish and kelp ending up with 2 products, i.e. fish hydrolysate and kelp hydrolysate. The kelp hydrolysate is something that I had never seen before. Think of it as a fermented plant extract like you made up.

    Both of these process use lactobacillus strains, carbohydrates, minerals, etc. to extract the nutrient value from the raw products.

    In the case of the fish hydrolysate, you're left with a large amounts of bones. So this company sells these bones as a soil amendment - Eco-Nutrient Fish Bloom 0-22-0 with a suggested application of 1/2 cup per 1 c.f. of potting soil.

    They also recommend that you wear heavy gloves when handling which I can vouch that this is a really good idea.


    EDIT: - this product contains 22% phosphorus, 13% calcium and 4% nitrogen - all fermented forms.


  15. Great stuff as usual, LD. I have a question about the LB process. I was away much longer than expected, and my first step with the rice wash ended up at about 18 days versus the specified 7 days. When I got home, it REEEKED and there were little maggot looking things crawling along the inside of the glass jar, above the wash that was settled in the bottom, as well as some gnats and other things dead in the wash. I ditched it, but why did this happen? Can I still use that jar after washing it out for the new batch?

  16. hhhmmmm must have waited to long i guess, i just strained off my milk solids a few minutes ago and it smelled almost like yogurt. it had been sitting for nine days.

    tomorrow im going to mix some with water and foliar spray/drench the soil

    asaaaand im going to start an experimental fermented plant exctract using lambsquarter, im excited hahaha
  17. Yeeeah...WAY too long! I'd never seen anything like it...I've been watching science channel lately and I thought, "Is that a....NO, couldn't be!" :eek: I'm starting a new batch and I'm going to put pictures with it and follow the process along as we go. Great work, sundance! I dig your own personal spin on the deal. Let us know how your plants respond. come on everybody, science is fun!
  18. I started a compost bin and after reading this thread I decided to give this a shot. Couldn't hurt, right? So the mixture was all done after 10+ days fermenting w/ the chunks and yellowish clear liquid well separated. Setting the jug the bin, I poked a few holes in the jug near the bottom of the serum layer so it would drain just that layer.
    Well, long story short, I left the jug near the bin in a trash bag for a minute while going to wash my hands. When I came back out my 3 dogs are circled around the jug in the middle of my yard all complete with white cheese mustaches. It's been a few days and they are fine. But it was hilarious.

    Thanks for the recipe, I think it will work wonders for the green ladies.
  19. what to do with the milk solids when this is all done? i was thinking of picking some black soldier fly larvae from my worm bin and seeing if they'll eat it?
  20. After you add the milk to the rice liquid, should you seal the container? Or loosely seal?

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