Boost Your Garden’s Potential: DIY Lactic Acid Bacteria ( LAB) for Plant Growth + Uses

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As I was cooking a delicious pot of rice, a thought popped into my mind – what could I do with the leftover rice water?

It seemed like such a waste to just pour it down the drain. Intrigued, I began exploring the possibilities of repurposing rice water for my little garden.

After a little research , I discovered that I can use it to make “Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) for Plant Growth”

After using it in my garden for a while and witnessing impressive results, I couldn’t keep this knowledge to myself.

I am excited to share my experience and the incredible benefits I’ve seen with you here

What exactly are Lactic Acid Bacteria for plant growth? 

Lactic Acid Bacteria or LAB are a group of friendly microorganisms that can be found in our gut and and on the skin of all living organisms.

They are also found in soil and on every leave surface.

LAB has been used in Korean Natural Farming ( KNF ) for decades to improve soils quality, prevent disease and help plant grow.

How to Make Lactic Acid Bacteria Serum for Plants

I’m sharing how to make lactic acid bacteria serum for plants and the benefits of using it.

To make lactic acid bacteria serum,

You will need

  • 350 g rice ( Any type of rice that easy to access – white rice/ brown or Glutinous rice are good to use )
  • 250 ml water ( Rain water is best )
  • 1 L milk, preferably the whole unpasteurized natural milk
  • Glass or plastic container with lid
  • Cheesecloth /coffee filter or a fine mesh sieve
  • Rubber band
  • Mixing spoon

4 Steps to make Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB ) for plant growth

  1. Grow Lactic Acid Bacteria
  2. Add Rice Water Starter to Milk
  3. Cultivate Lactic Acid Bacteria
  4. Strain and Store LAB

Step 1 Grow Lactic Acid Bacteria

1.1 Prepare rice wash , put equal amounts of water and rice in the container

1.2 Mix them well and let’s them soak for at least 30 mins.

1.3 Then use a fine mesh sieve or a muslin cloth to strain the liquid into a glass container. At this stage, the solution should looks milky as seen in photo.

1.4 Cover loosely, the container with kitchen towel or cloth, then store in a warm dark place ( away from the light ) for a couple of days to a week , depending upon the temperature

The ideal temperature for fermentation is between 77-95°F (25-35°C).

In my experience , it usually takes about 3 days for mine to be ready because of the warm climate.

Using rain water is the best option but if couldn’t access rain water , use mineral water (chorine-free) if possible.

Or if you’re using tap water, let it sit for 24 hours. This allows the chlorine to evaporate

Loosely covered with a lid or paper towel to keep out bugs and allow to release gas during fermentation process.

1.5 Make sure to check daily until it is ready

How do you know when it is ready?

When you see a thin layer on top (molds) and notice a slightly sweet and sour smell, you know it’s done.
These layers show that the rice wash has been infected by different microbes.

The process happens faster in warm temperatures because the microbes are more active.
But, it’s important to remember that we don’t do this in a controlled laboratory setting, so it can vary from batch to batch.

Now the fermented rice water is ready for the next step

Step 2 Add Fermented Rice Water to Milk

2.1. Pour the milk into a glass container.

2.2 Add the fermented rice water to the milk with the ratio 1:3 ( 1 Part of fermented rice water and 3 Part of Milk )

2.3 Cover loosely with a paper towel or a cloth to allow an airflow , secure it with an elastic band.

2.4 Next, place the container in a cool, dark place to avoid light exposure.

The mixture of fermented rice water and milk

Step 3 Cultivate Lactic Acid Bacteria

At this state ,

After we add milk to the mixture, these microorganisms grow rapidly, quickly multiply because they have plenty of nutrients to feed on.

Depending on the temperature, the process can take up to 5 days. But in my area, it usually takes around 3 to 4 days for the solution to be ready.

By the end of the process, the solution separates into three layers:

  • Top layer ( a curd layer) : can be saved for eating or added to the compost bin
  • Middle layer , is a liquid layer : Lactic Acid and other bacteria : We will use this layer
  • Bottom Layer : Sediments and starches layer

 The solution starting to separates into three distinct layers

Step 4 Strain and Store LAB

4.1 Strain the fermented milk through a cheesecloth or coffee filter to remove any solids and collect the liquid.

4.2 Store the lactic acid bacteria serum in a clean glass or plastic container with a lid.

4.3 Keep the container in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation process.

4.4 The lactic acid bacteria serum can be stored for up to 2 weeks.

 so there , you have it : The finished Product : Lactic Acid Bacteria Serum

NOTE: Don’t forget about the curds, the yummy leftovers from the milk fermentation by L. bacilli!

They are like superfood for the soil, compost pile, plants, animals, and even humans! Curds are packed with beneficial microbes like L. bacilli, which are good for everyone.

So, in natural farming, there’s no waste – just nutrient-rich curds that can be enjoyed by all living things.

 The Curds : The leftovers from the milk fermentation by L. bacilli!

How to use Lactic Acid Bacteria Serum to Plants:

This is a good starting point for general applications.

  1. Dilute the lactic acid bacteria serum with water at a ratio of 1:1000 (1 ML serum to 1L of water).
  2. Use a watering can or spray bottle to apply the diluted serum to the soil around the plants.
  3. Apply the lactic acid bacteria serum once a week for best results.

What can you do with Lactic acid bacteria serum?

Lactic acid bacteria serum is a wonderful natural product that can be used in many ways Here are some cool things you can do with lactic acid bacteria serum:

Garden Use :

  • Use as fertilizer : Help to increase nutrients in the soil and promote plant growth
  • Compost bin : Lactobacillus bacteria help speed up decomposition. They work quickly to break down organic matter and recycle nutrients.

Home Use :

  • Cooking : The left over curd is a starter to make cheese
  • Cleaning : Unclogged Drain , Reduce Odor in the area that needs and reduce illness for your pets

Farm Use :

  • Order Control: Spray diluted solution on animal bedding to reduce odor and sickness. Make it slightly damp, but not too wet. Dry climates may need more spray than humid ones.

    If you want to sanitize livestock housing, like chicken coops, you will need a stronger solution.

    In this case, you can use Dilution Ratio 1:100 or 1:500 — 1 Part of LAB with 100 or 500 Parts water.

Animals :

  • Food supplements : LAB helps animals digest food and absorb nutrients, making them stronger and less likely to get sick. It also protects them from harmful bacteria in their food and water.

    Just add a little bit of LAB to their feed and let it soak to work its magic.

Humans :

  • Improve Gut Health : LAB helps improve gut health and supports the healing process inside your body.

    Simply mix 1-2 teaspoons of Lactobacillus serum with a cup of cool water.

Remember : The ratio depends on the specific purpose, and using the right concentration will help ensure proper cleaning and sanitation for different situations.

How long can you store Lactic Acid Bacteria?

LAB serum can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

To preserve the serum for a longer period of time, add an equal amount of molasses or brown sugar so you can keep them alive for up to 12 Months at room temperature.

They can be kept even longer if you store the mixed solution( LAB+Sugar) in the fridge.

Benefits of using Lactic Acid Bacteria in Korean Natural Farming

LAB, have amazing advantages in Natural Farming that help plants and animals thrive.

Let’s explore a few of these benefits:

1. Enhanced Soil Structure

LAB is excellent at creating small spaces in the soil, allowing air and water to move freely. This improves soil ventilation and helps plants grow better.

2.Increased Fertilizer Effectiveness

LAB helps make fertilizers more soluble, ensuring that plants can easily absorb the nutrients they need for healthy growth.

3. Promotes Plant Growth and Germination

LAB has a direct positive impact on plant growth and seed germination. It also helps plants cope with various environmental stresses, like extreme temperatures or water scarcity.

4. Reduces Ammonia Gas

When immature compost is used, ammonia gas can be produced, which can harm plants. LAB helps neutralize this gas, protecting plants from its negative effects.

5. Survives with or without Oxygen

LAB can survive in both oxygen-rich and oxygen-limited environments, making it adaptable to various conditions.

6. Improves Phosphate Absorption

LAB can solubilize phosphate in the soil, making it easier for plants to absorb this essential nutrient. This helps plants overcome nutrient deficiencies and salinity problems.

7. Effective Biocontrol Agent

LAB has been proven to control a wide range of harmful fungi and bacteria that can damage plants. It acts as a natural protector for plants, keeping them healthy.

8. Enhances Nutrient Availability

LAB improves the availability of nutrients from compost and other organic materials, ensuring that plants can access the vital nutrients they require.

9. Speed up Compost

LAB uses fermentation pathways to decompose organic matter in the soil more efficiently. This helps break down organic substances into nutrients that plants can readily use.

10. Sterilizing abilities

Lactic Acid Bacteria has amazing sterilizing abilities. You can use it to clean and sanitize the chicken coop, making it a healthier environment for the chickens.

LAB also helps get rid of the ammonia smell in the chicken coop, making it more pleasant for both the chickens and the people taking care of them.

In summary,

Now that you’ve learned about the incredible benefits of Lactic Acid Bacteria.

Are you ready to try making your own?

It’s a fun and rewarding process that can help your plants grow stronger, improve soil health, and even protect against diseases.

So, are you up for the exciting adventure of creating your own Lactic Acid Bacteria serum?

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