The ingredients & process for making garbage enzyme (GE) is basically similar to making vinegar or apple cider vinegar. The good thing is that we're utilizing our own fruit or kitchen scraps so the cost is very low or practically free. GE has many applications in the garden & around the house. Let's jump in on the fun & make it right now.
The recommended ratio for making GE is:
- 1 part sugar
- 3 parts organic waste
- 10 parts water
You'll understand why we use these ingredients & if there are any alternatives next. It's the info for foundational understanding of this process. But if you'd like to skip right to the making, click here to zip down to it instantly.
1 part sugar
People say it's more beneficial to use brown sugar because it has some more minerals in it compared to the processed white one. Other types you can use are sugar cane sugar, jaggery powder, palm sugar or whatever is available in your local area. Remember to smash the sugar a bit before putting in to speed things up.
There is still some discussion going on between using dry solid sugar vs wet liquid sugar like molasses. Because here we're trying to extract or pull the enzymes out of the waste, using dry solid sugar may help. It creates some osmosis pressure for the juices to move out into–like a current. On the other side of the table, people believe it's the pressure of pushing oxygen out that helps extract the good bits. So the solid or liquid form of sugar may not be a totally big issue.
If you're using liquid sugar, try not to use honey. Because there are some anti-bacterial properties in honey, which may kill the microbes. We may then end up cultivating honey instead of building up our little enzymatic empire.
Molasses is a great choice for many because firstly it's often sold as a waste product for very cheap. The concentration of sugar in molasses is high so we don't have to use a lot of it. Also, inside molasses there is more than just simple sugar, it has iron, magnesium, carbon, calcium & other amino acids. Black strap unsulfured molasses is preferable because it contains no sulfur that could cause a bad smell.
3 parts organic waste
Depending on your practical application, you can choose your organic waste accordingly. Here are some few ideas:
- If you intend to use the GE for cleaning, choose something like:
- Citrus peels
The final product will smell absolutely amazing & has good cleaning properties for stubborn stains.
2. If you want to use GE as a fertilizer for the garden, then try:
- Soybean: for nitrogen
- Old bananas: for potassium
- Any other fruits or veggies will also work
3. Finally, if you want something to control the pests, bugs or mosquitoes, try:
- Some other spicy stuff
Finally, we need to add:
10 parts water
It's good to use de-chlorinated water so no chlorine will kill off our microbes. If you put in citrus peels, the vitamin C will help de-chlorinate it immediately. If you use tap water, let it sit exposed to the sun for 1-3 days or bubbling it for 90 minutes. Reverse osmosis RO water also works. Mix in lukewarm water (about human body temperature) to get the microbes ready for action.
Now on to the making:
Step 1: Chop up the organic materials
Blending the materials can help speed up the fermentation process. If you don't want to blend it, then chopping it up into smaller pieces is also fine. This helps increase the surface area so we'll extract more of the enzymes out.
Step 2: Mix the ingredients
If you use solid sugar, then smash it up before dissolving in. Mix the sugar with the water. Then, add the chopped up organic materials about half way or two-thirds in the jar to prevent spilling or built-up pressure while fermenting.
Step 3: Close the lid & let's wait
After step 2 is complete, your GE is basically set for action. The only thing we need to do now is close the lid tightly to prevent any air from getting in. Then, place the jar in a cool dark place. For the first 4 weeks, remember to loosen the lid a few times a day so the CO2 can gas off & doesn't break your jar.
Step 4: Harvest the GE
The whole enzyme solution will be ready in about 90 days. You can speed this up by adding some store-bought yeast (which shortens it to 30 days). When it's about done, you'll notice a white film of fuzz on top. This is the normal white mold & means your batch is good. The GE will have a light acidic & slightly alcohol smell like some fruit cider. It's a very nice pleasant smell with no foul odor.
In the final solution, you'll get some stuff like:
- Some light alcohol (very low percentage)
- Organic acids
We also have the enzymes:
- Lipase: breaks down fats/lipids
- Amylase: chops up starch into sugars
- Protease: decomposes proteins into amino acids
- Cellulose: rips long chains of cellulose in veggies
Plus the yummy single sugars (monosaccharides) that can be taken up right away by plants:
Let's put our GE to good use:
For fertilizing plants, you can mix in 3 ml (1/2 tsp) per 1 liter (4 cups) of water. Or more simple, 2-3 tsp per gallon of water. Because the GE is slightly acidic (pH 2-3), you may want to dilute it before feeding your plants. The ratios of 1:100/500/1000 works fine for fertilizing. About 50-100ml of diluted solution per plant should be fine. The feeding frequency can be 10-14 days apart for each application.
As this stuff is organically made over time, it won't burn the plants even if we accidentally use too much or a heavy dose on them. There won't be any ants attracted around your growing area when you spray the GE around. The microbes will have consumed all the sugar we put in initially.
If your trees are something like blueberries which actually like the acidity, then we may not need to dilute the solution. If you use it for cleaning, then a 1:10 (GE:water) ratio is fine.
The remaining GE can be good for up to 5-6 months. Store it in a dry cool place away from direct sunlight. Or keep it at room temperature & not inside a fridge.
- While fermenting, don't place the jar somewhere too hot or it might get black mold
- If black mold appears, add some more sugars & wait to see. If the situation doesn't improve, you may need to start a new batch
- Clean the jars before making the GE
- Don't let oils/fats stick to the jar or the inside contents
- Add enough sugars so maggots won't appear
- Close the lid very tightly so we won't get any flies buzzing around or laying eggs inside
- Keep some of the GE to produce the second, third & so on generations
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