February 5, 2015

How to Culture Lactobacilli (LAB) Beneficial Microorganims for Your Garden

Source: iz quotes
My mother has the habit of taking in stray cats in our neighborhood.  This resulted in more than ten cats taking residence in our home.  It was unmanageable and eventually, bad odors developed in our backyard due to cat droppings.  This pushed me to research on the best way to eliminate bad odors without leaving chemical residues in the soil.

My research introduced me to effective microorganisms, natural farming practices, wicking gardens and a lot of other good things.

In 2009, I started culturing Lactobacilli (LAB) to get rid of the bad odors at home.  After  several months of experimentation, I decided to launch Biolant beneficial microorganisms as a product. Although the business didn't take off as well as I expected, I was quite successful in eliminating bad odors!  

I have decided to share the formula/recipe I used in culturing Lactobacilli.

Here are some reminders:

  • I followed CLEAN kitchen concepts in preparing and handling the ingredients and equipment.  
  • For measurement, 1 liter = 1 kilo

The steps in culturing Lactobacilli can be divided into two major parts:

  1. Collecting the inoculant.  
  2. Multiplying and storing the Lactobacilli.



Rice        1 part
Water      2 parts


Container for fermenting rice wash


  1. In a container, mix one part of rice and two parts water.  Thoroughly and vigorously wash the rice.  This makes the water cloudy.  
  2. Transfer the cloudy water into another container with 50% to 75% head space to allow air circulation. Cover mouth of the container with cheesecloth wrapped with rubber band (or anything that will hold the cloth).  Manila paper can be used to cover the container.
  3. Place the rice wash in a cool dark spot for 5-8 days. The mixture should smell mildly sour in a few days.  [At first, I left the rice wash for one week.  The smell was not mildly sour anymore but I still used it as inoculant.  It was hot and humid at that time.  It must be due to the ambient temperature.  It only takes about 3 days here in the Philippines for the rice wash to turn mildly sour.]
  4. By this time, layers have formed.  Strain out the solids and you have your inoculant.



Water - 10x the volume of inoculant.  Use non chlorinated water.

  • If direct from the tap, I let the water sit for 24 hours before use.

Black Strap Molasses / Brown Sugar - 3% of weight of total liquid (water + inoculant).  ASSUME: 1 liter = 1 kilo.

  • I use Dark Brown Sugar which is more acceptable to organic advocates.  I can't find a molasses supplier in Marikina City.  I also experimented with white sugar and it worked just fine.  

Milk (Special) - 12% of weight of total liquid (water + inoculant).

  • I use Special powdered milk sold in a bakeshop supply store.  Best to inform store personnel that the milk will be used for fermentation.  The store owner recommends a more expensive powdered milk but in my case, the SPECIAL (Sp.) type was sufficient. The cheaper types had a lot of milk extenders which ruined the fermentation process.  
  • Using and buying powdered milk from a bakeshop supply store is the cheapest way to make your nutrient solution as regular milk from the grocery is quite expensive.
  • Branded powdered milk from the grocery contains sugar but it also works well, except for the cost. 
  • You can use regular milk (liquid) or branded powdered milk from the grocery but it is very expensive.  
  • The name of the store is St. Ellen's Supplies and Gen. Merchandise, "Bayan" Marikina.  This is along Shoe Avenue in Marikina City, right across Marikina Sports Center and Red Ribbon. 

Inoculant - fermented rice wash (For those who skipped it, please read Part 1)

          Here's an example computation:

          Let's assume that we have 360 mL of fermented rice wash (inoculant).  

          The weight of the ingredients are computed as follows: 

               Water - 3600mL or 3.6Liters (10x volume of inoculant)                   
                    1.  360mL x 10 = 3600mL or 3.6Liters

               Sugar - 120 grams or 3% of total liquid.  
                    1.  Get total volume of liquid.  3600mL + 360mL = 3960mL.  
                    2.  Multiply 3% to the total.  3% x 3960mL = 118.8 grams => 120 grams

               Powdered Milk (Special) - 475 grams (12% of total liquid)
                    1.  Get total volume of liquid.  3600mL + 360mL = 3960mL.  
                    2.  Multiply 12% to the total.  12% x 3960mL = 475.2 grams => 475 grams      

  1. Make your nutrient solution by dissolving the milk, sugar and water in a plastic container with a 50% to 75% head space for air circulation.  I used a 20 liter plastic bin for this mixture.  TIP:  I heated the water to about 34°C to easily dissolve the sugar and milk.  Use a wooden / plastic spatula to stir the mixture.  
  2. Add the inoculant and mix well.
  3. Cover the bin with several layers of cheesecloth.  
  4. Let the solution ferment in a cool, dark spot for 12 to 14 days.  By the 12th day, the aroma has become really strong and ready for straining.  
  5. Strain out the solids.  The yellowish liquid is your Lactobacilli (LAB).  
  6. Add an equivalent amount of molasses/brown sugar to the LAB to allow long-term storage. [Six months, in my case.]
  7. For storage, you can use plastic bottles similar to bottled water but you have to release gases formed to prevent a sticky explosion.  I used plastic bottles that wasn't air tight.  This allowed gases to escape but the shelf life was reduced to 6 months.  
I don't have pictures that come with this post but I found another site with plenty of pictures that also discusses how to culture Lactobacilli.  The pictures help in understanding and their container for storage solves the problem of gas formation. Click the link to go to the site, Confessions From The Soil.

The procedure I have shared is the product of research, experimentation and usage.  I don't have scientific proof that it works.  

The only proof that I can claim to is that the bad odors  at home, after several years of enduring it, is gone.

No comments: