Using Super Lacto on Bokashi Leachate

This week in the Flog:

  • Using Super Lacto on Bokashi Leachate
  • The awesome results after just a few days

So let’s look at how I’m using my super lacto culture. I made this culture by pouring just a little of the pure strength lacto (the 1:1 mix of lacto and sugar) into a 6 L jug with water. I then poured in a bunch of sugar. Not sure how much, like I said there are no rules with this. Maybe it was .5-1 cup of sugar. The jug wasn’t full, it had maybe 4.5L of water in it when I started. About 3 days later the jug was ready to burst it had become so hard with pressure. The color of the water also changed, becoming murky/milky colored rather than light brown as it started.

I already used part of the jug on some sinks in the house that were getting close to clogging because they were so full of junk. It took a day but the sinks got fixed nicely and now drain perfectly.

Today I’m going to use the rest of the jug on some bokashi leachate that I fear is nasty. So remember I wrote a flog some time back on how to make your own bokashi bin? Well the bin I made is great but it doesn’t quite seal between the top bucket (full of bokashi materials) and the bottom bucket (full of bokashi leachate that drips down out of top bucket). Little tiny flies were able to get in, so there are maggots and all kinds of things in the bottom bucket. And it stinks like a really strong dairy farm or something. Like a bad barnyard smell. Not particularly putrid but not nice either. I’m going to try and save the smell of it. I’ve already used some on the plants and they absolutely love it, but I (read: wife) don’t like the smell. I have this jug with the rest of my lacto culture in it, which I’ll just add the bokashi leachate too. I’m also going to add a bit more sugar (maybe half a cup), just to give the lacto some additional nutrients if they need:

Super Lacto

My premade super lacto I’ll use to fix up the bokashi leachate

And I have this bokashi drain bucket holding the bokashi leachate that smells bad. You can see the fly larva (white dots) and pupa cocoons (brown dots) around the inside of the bucket, they are also swimming in the nutrient broth in the bottom of the bucket:

Bokashi Leachate

This is the drain bucket of my bokashi bin. It didn’t seal well and now is infested with fly larva (white) and pupa (brown). The plants don’t mind but I don’t like the smell.

Now the funnel goes on the lacto jug, and the bokashi leachate will be poured right into it:

Super Lacto

My jug of super lacto ready for the bokashi leachate. You can see the mesh across the top, to catch the chunks, so the funnel doesn’t clog. I’d like to have the chunks go into the jug also but oh well.

Now the jug gets sealed with the cap (or airlock for those using airlocks, the superior method since you don’t need to crack the cap to release pressure buildup). This is critical, since we really need an anaerobic (no oxygen) environment for this to work. The idea is that the lacto, in combination with all the organic acids and other compounds they’ve produced so far in the jug I’ve had them in, will overcome the bad microbes present in the bokashi leachate.

Look at the jug now that they’re combined. Wow that is a really black liquid in there. Looks pretty strong. I know my plants love it as it is, I used some in the watering bucket already, at about 1 tbsp/gal, and the plants blew up in the following days. Let’s see how it works after being fermented (at least I hope it ferments!).

Bokashi Leachate + Lacto

This is right after being mixed up, it is so black! Wow that is some strong stuff!

Pretty cool huh? How do we know it’s working? You will see air build up again as the lacto consume the sugars added as well as the nutrients in the leachate, and produce gases through their metabolizing. You should also notice a change in the smell – it should no longer smell foul, it should have very little smell. Let’s see how this performs over the next little while.

A few days in and the air buildup is astonishing. Look at how the air space inside the container has changed – the pressure in there is crazy, the jug is like a rock after just a few days. The color has also lightened up a little.

Bokashi Leachate Fermenting

After several days, the air pressure inside is crazy. As well the color has changed a little bit. The microbes are going crazy.

The lacto are definitely going to town on the bokashi leachate. You can see the bubbling once I loosen the cap – the CO2 that was trapped in solution due to the pressure within the vessel is able to escape now that I’ve lessened the pressure. The smell is still very strong when I crack the jug to release the air that built up.

Bokashi Juice Fermenting

You can see the bubbles from fermentation, released from the fluid as the pressure is lowered (I cracked the lid and it bubbled up).

A side note here, if you don’t want to deal with the smell every time you crack the lid, you can make your own air filter/airlock using pvc and biochar. I’ve used this when making fish fertilizer before and it worked great. I’ll share the instructions for making that in a future post.

A week later and the jug still smells strong when I crack the lid. The rate of air buildup is incredible, indicating the amount of microbial activity going on. The smell is starting to change a bit, and I think this batch will get to the same place as fish fertilizer in terms of smell. Remember when making fish fertilizer, during fermentation you get all kinds of smells out of the bottle, as the fish is digested. However by the end, you end up with a very faintly sour smelling fish fertilizer that not only doesn’t smell bad, but has awesome benefits for your garden.

We’ve caught up to real time now, I only started this bokashi batch about 10 days ago, so it has some more fermenting to do (it might run longer than the usual 14-21 days considering how much activity there has been so far). Let’s see how it goes over the next few weeks – I can’t wait to see how it turns out when fermentation is complete!

So, that’s how you use super strength lacto culture on your really tough stuff! Have fun making super cultures, let me know how they work out for you – share your lacto story in the comments!

Keep on growing 🙂

  • Jose Kristensen

    Hi Patrick
    I had a plastic tub of potatoes which filled with rainwater and sat rotting for about 6 months. When I emptied it the tub had the foulest smell imaginable. No amount of washing and sunning diminished the smell. I mixed up some coir, sugar and Lacto to make bokashi in it and the smell was gone completely within 12 hours. I would never have believed lacto could work that well if I hadn’t experienced it myself – truly impressive.
    Thanks for sharing all these recipes and their use.

    • Patrick

      Hahaha isn’t that cool? I know, it still surprises me sometimes how quick and effective it is.. and when I try to tell people, the response is “yeah, ok…. WAIT OMG I TRIED IT AND IT WORKED SO WELL I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!”

      haha 🙂

  • Mick Kruckow

    G’day Patrick, I’ve just finished brewing my trial batch of bokashi leachate. It certainly smells like a peach compared to the original product. Can’t wait to use it. I made my bokashi bins as a single bin with a tap as close to the bottom as I could & then I’ve used 1/2″ clear hose from the tap into the lid of my collecting bottle. I also put a small hole which takes a small threaded airline joiner & make an airlock with that just by tying a loose knot in the clear hose (1/4″ or smaller) & putting a bit of water in the hose which acts as the airlock. I started with 2litre bottles but I’m thinking about going to a 3.5kg mayonaise bottle that the cafe’s use here as I’m getting more than 2 litres out of a 20 litre bokashi bucket. No more smells & flies or other wildlife getting into the containers now.

    • Patrick

      Hey Mick I want to see your bokashi setup! Sounds cool!

      So did you add super lacto to a batch of bokashi leachate? Or you’re just testing the bokashi leachate from this new setup of yours?

      It’s true, you have to keep the system completely anaerobic for it to work out well and not be smelly/infested..

      I’m not sure if you signed up for the expert forums, but anyway the forums should be up soon then hopefully you can post pictures of your setup.


      • Mick Kruckow

        G’day again Patrick, I actually just used the fish hydrolysate recipe, but I have about 5 litres of the fresh bokashi leachate on hand so I’ll make some super lacto & give that a go. I actually put some of my first batches together this morning to feed my organoponics for the next day or so. I made up a smaller batch of only 500 litres as I am finding that undesirable things go on in my fertigation tank if it takes too long to empty out. I thought I would start with 150ml each of bokashi leachate, worm leachate, & coffee grounds, all fermented to your recipes. I’ll need to get myself a pH/EC meter to see what’s going on in the tank,as when I tested with pH strips, even at those levels shows a higher acid level than the 5pH that the strips I have start at. The plants all seem very healthy & I don’t seem to have any parasites giving me grief, so things must be going alright in the greenhouse.
        I don’t know that I am an expert, but I have probably had more training with microbes, plant & soil health & nutrition that most people I know, but I might look at joining the group because there is far more to learn in this field & who better to learn off than like minded experienced people.

        • Mick Kruckow

          Patrick, I meant to ask you what you take is on each of my brew’s?. I’m thinking that the bokashi leachate would be a combo package with bloom fert,grow fert & nutition properties, the worm leachate is comparable to “nectar of the god’s” & the coffee grounds would also boost the growth. Actually coffee is one of the few thinks I haven’t done some research on, but I’m told what it does for plant growth is unreal. I’ll see how it goes over the next few days & then Ill post my starter recipe for other to try out & perfect to suit their needs. As there is virtually nothing that can’t be fermented with the lacto & sugar I feel the sky is the limit.
          Regards again,

  • Patrick
    Wandered away from this site for awhile…
    Would this recipe be able to keep the bokashi leachate for a prolonged period?
    So to sum up the formula

    Pure lacto : molasse 1:1
    Add to water say 20 parts ?
    Wait for 3 days
    Add bokashi leachate plus molasse to feed microbes
    And wait for how many days before my plants can enjoy ?
    Also dilution ratio please ?

    Wow if this is ok, I won’t have to throw away my leachate as I am told must use while fresh
    Thanks & Regards

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