One easy way to culture IMO is to actually go out in a nearby forest and 'hunt' them. This is more applicable if you live near open spaces or on a homestead. Another way we can do is to get the IMO that are already existent on the foods around us & provide a happy home for them to multiply. You can then use that IMO solution for your compost, animal houses or the soil in your garden.
Let's see how to make IMO right now:
Way #1 - Go hunt IMO
If you have big trees or forests around your house, then chances are there may be billions of IMO you can collect right around those spaces. In this case, you can get ready for some fun and we can go hunt the IMO.
First step: Make a collection box
In a wooden box, you can put in the substrate. This is the stuff that will attract the fungi & other IMO to come and reproduce there. You can use a plastic box as well.
Chris Trump, the guy with the amazing video on this process, uses rice grains to attract the microbes. You'd want to cook the rice so that it's well done but non-sticky. You can use 1 cup of rice per 2 cups of water. If you want the rice to be more on the dry side, reduce it to about 1.5 cups of water. When you release a handful of cooked rice from your hand, the grains should fall through nicely.
After making the rice, fill it in about 2/3 of the collection box. We want the extra headspace on the top so it creates some sort of heat to make it warm for the IMO to live & reproduce in.
Finally, on top of the box place a piece of tissue paper, a paper towel, a T-shirt or some sort of breathable cloth you have available. The fibers will be fine enough for the little guys to fall through while keeping the big guys like snakes or rats away from our box.
Then we can move on to the:
Next step: Let's go hunting!
Now, with your collection box at hand, let's find a good spot to place it out in the open space. Look around near the bases of the trees.
If you spot some white fuzz on the fallen leaves, then it's a good sign that some good IMO are present there. Pick up some of the leaves and spread them evenly on your box.
We don't want to gather the leaves up in the center because that might make the tissue paper cover droopy and the moisture might break it up, leaving space for the bad microbes to come in.
If it looks like it's about to rain, hook some tarp on the tree branches to cover the box. Then, we can wait for about a week to check back for our IMO.
Final step: Harvest the IMO
After about a week or so, you can check back to see how the IMO is developing. If you see a blossom of white fuzz (like white floss cotton candy) all around your collection box, then it's a major success. And if it's your first hunt, that's even greater.
However, if you see a few white spots here and there, then it is okay! It is perfectly fine. Any reds, yellows, or greens are fine. This can be considered a learning experience and it does take a while for many people to find the sweet spot.
If you see some black mold on top, then we may need to discard those. It's not really the beneficial IMO we're heading for. Anything other than the white fuzz (or reds, yellows, greens) may mean some troublemakers. We'd better release them out in the wild.
I'll link the video here if you'd like to check it out later:
This is another super cool video of capturing your own IMO:
In case you don't live near forests or near-by natural fields, then let's try another way. In fact, we believe anyone can do this at home:
Way #2 - Take home IMO
For this IMO cultivation way, we'll gather some ingredients. All of them are easy to find and cheap. This method requires no electricity:
- 5-10 packets of digestive probiotics
- 2-4 yogurt cups (the sweetened one is okay)
- 3-5 rice wine yeast balls
- 2 ripe bananas (pineapples, mango are also fine)
- a handful of rice bran
- one liter of molasses
- 17-20 liters of de-chlorinated water
- lastly a 5-gallon (20L) bucket to contain all of the above
Although there are quite some ingredients, the making process is very simple.
Step 1: Mix the molasses into the water
To get started, first pour the water into the bucket. Then, mix the molasses into it ans stir until it dissolves. If there's chlorine in the water, then remember to let it sit for 3-5 days so the chlorine can off gas. Then, you can use it to make the IMO.
Step 2: Gradually add all the ingredients in
Just a note, we're leaving the rice bran to put in last. Because when we sprinkle the rice bran on, it will create a sort of layer to protect our mix against the bad guys besides the function of activating the microbes.
Before the rice bran, you can add all the ingredients in whatever way you like–the order of it doesn't really matter. For the bananas, pineapples or mangoes, you may want to smash or chop them up before mixing in. This helps increase the surface area, making it easier for the microbes get to work.
As you can see, we're getting as many native microbes we can get from our local sources–and many different varieties too. You can see them in the digestive probiotics we're putting in, the yogurt, the yeast balls (these guys turn starch into sugars), and the local fruits.
The molasses and rice bran then will be the food for our little guys and girls. The water then is the happy environment for them to live and multiply in.
Step 3: Cover the bucket & let it sit in a warm place
After you've mixed all the ingredients into the bucket, cover it with a piece of nylon screen or something that is breathable. This is to avoid flies from getting in. Then, place your bucket somewhere warm. You may need to stir the solution a few times a day to oxygenate the mix & mix the contents well. In a warm climate, the IMO should be done in about 5-7 days.
How to tell when the IMO is done?
For the first 1-2 days, you may see some bubbling going on. The bubbles are about the size of a pin needle and sometimes larger. It is a good sign that the microbes in all the stuff we put in are waking up & kicking and punching around. On the third and fourth day, you may see a thin film of fuzz on the top. On day 5-7, the film then may disappear.
The IMO mix now will have a slight acidic smell. Try mixing it with water with a 1:20 or 1:50 ratio. Then, use that solution to spray around some stinky spots like in the toilet or a smelling compost bin.
If the smell disappears within 3-5 minutes, then you know you get yourself a very good batch of IMO and that your microbes are healthy and alive. If it's more than 15 minutes and the odor still lingers around, then the IMO we got may not be that active & we may need to say goodbye to them and get a new batch going.
In the final IMO solution, you'll get:
- Beneficial microbes (from the yogurt, the probiotics)
- Indigenous microbes (IMO from the air)
- Enzymes (produced by the microbes)
- Fungi (from the yeast balls)
Once you've got a hang of making this IMO stuff, you can creatively mix any organic ingredients you find locally to serve different purposes. For example, we can mix in:
|Fish or soybean||Nitrogen|
|Moringa leaves||Micro & macro nutrients|
|Chili, lemongrass||Warding off pests|
|Aloe vera||Spraying mealybugs|
If you plan to use the IMO mix to fertilize your plants, dilute it with a 1:50 or 1:100 ratio of water. As the acidity in the final IMO mix is around pH ~4, it may burn the plants if applied directly at the base or sprayed through the foliage. Diluting it is the safest bet & the easiest way to use for the garden.
As you can see, culturing IMO is both fun and easy. Give it a try today & see the results right in your backyard. Hope this brief post has sparked some ideas for you to get started. Happy IMO-ing.
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