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I use aloe vera gel every day as a skin treatment as does the rest of the fam. We swear by the stuff.  We are so engaged that we are gel snobs. For quality and value I recommend the locally distributed Balinese aloe. 

They also make an aloe fertilizer...but that's not so readily available locally as the project is still in start up mode.

In the garden I use a lot of pigface in the beds. Roughly chopped and thrown into the soil as a hydroscopic wetting agent. For this to happen I need a supply line so I grow the pigface plants in any vacant spot. Pigface has growth spurts and can sometimes be fickle  but the local species -- Carpobrotus glaucescens -- can be verdant on take off. Ironically, perhaps because I may have high Nitrogen content soils -- my pigfaces don't flower.

As far as I know, there has been no research on the efficacy of pigface as a soil improver -- unlike aloe vera, which has a growing reputation as a bit of a soil probiotic. 

The Balinese aloe vera  fertilizer is fermented, inoculated and fed with molasses but since my own aloe vera plants are coming on more -- and I plant them hither and yon -- I'm thinking I can process them into a sort of tea -- as in feeding the soil.

Would anyone know of a recipe?

I can chop up aloe as I do with the pigface but aloe vera isn't as extensive in my garden as the pigface. Not yet anyway as it grows more slowly. So i'm looking for a extender workaround. 

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Wunderbah! YouTube to the rescue: I found this great DIY which is right up my cooking alley.Lactobacillus.

This is excellent -- especially as I make whey every other week.

I used to use the whey from the yogurt making to feed into sauerkraut fermenting.

Here's a text DIY.

..and related, a cow manure, milk and sugar ferment mix from Nicaragua. That makes sense to my culinary mind when a lot of other concoctions don't register as a comfortable DIY.

Obviously yogurt whey is sure to be a tad species different from these intricate methods but after drain off, you still get your yogurt to sup on. What you then do with the Lactobacillus is up to you. You could ferment it a bit more by adding sugar  and other carbohydrate and bugs (like  manure)to the whey , before throwing in some desiccated aloe vera. I could also use my rice or bean wash water...Not quite  bokashi composting, but its a means to an end.

There's a lot of recipes floating about; read some in the BOG newsletter. They all include aeration and feeding with molasses. And using very quickly after making. Perhaps and extender might be general weeds? Weed tea on steroids?

I'm sure the many concoctions feed a sense of magic bullet. I reckon, 'why bust a gut' and get your hopes up. Bugs is bugs and the survival is of the fittest...and any mix done wrong is sure to be redone once it hits the soil.

As they say to the surgeon: first do no harm.

However, the utility of lactobacillus is interesting. It's in the air anyway as well as in the soil.As well as yogurt and other ferments, it's also drives the sourdough in sourdough bread. 

So I reckon the Gram-positive facultative anaerobic  bacteria you know is better than the one you don't. However, my guess is that aeration (and that's traditionally stirring or shaking the mix every day for a week) isn't conducive to lactobacillus (least not the yogurt strains) -- when warmth is. 

While molasses is the nutrient feed -- sugar is also used.

However, I'm a little confused why you'd go to so much effort when you could use kitchen produced whey. Strains vary, of course -- but whey sits within the same lactic acid ballpark and is easy to grow further by adding more sugars to hand-- eg: cane sugar, rice wash, (dried  bean wash?) , leftover veg cooking water (minus salt), milk, spud wash water,etc.

I've been pondering the waste water mixes I collect every day from cooking and food prep and the opportunistic gathering of this fluid reminds me of the use of cornmeal on soil which is really the deployment of a targeted mulch.

Researchers at Texas A&M Research Station in Stephenville, TX, noticed that a peanut crop planted following a crop of corn didn’t suffer the usual fungus diseases. Further research showed that cornmeal contained beneficial organisms that were at least as effective as common chemical fungicides. Somehow cornmeal is able to attract a member of the Trichoderma fungus family, which is a good fungus that kills off disease causing fungi in a matter of weeks.

I gather aloes rely on lactobacillus added to the ferment process -- thus my interest. The other issue is that bought soil probiotics are expensive. 

I've been collecting all my food prep water and decant it into a large watering can near the back door. Before pouring onto the garden I may add urine as urine always needs a dilutant. 

Allowing this stuff to ferment (minus urine as you DO NOT want to ferment urine! Trust me -- I know)  -- as it will easily -- makes it a bit whiffy. But if I added strained whey and some cane sugar I think the experiment is worthy...and the more you agitate, the less the smell as it fosters the bug mix proclivity.

Into this concoction, maybe some blended aloe vera (and pigface)  leaves?


I'll have what the garden is having.

The recipe for bug juice depends on a. what kind of bugs you want to breed (bacteria or fungi) and b. what is to hand. Lots of people would not have whey nor wash water as you do so they need some other kind/s of recipe/s. Use whatever you have, see how it goes and work from there. Then let us know ;-)

The other tact is to converge a medium made up of whatever -- wash water, cane sugar &/or weeds etc -- and pour in a good slurp of proprietary bug juice. 

That's your inoculant...but because you have fostered the carb sugars it should reproduce according to species preference for pH, temperature and nutrients.

This is what i cooked up  today. Wash waters + whey + raw sugar +Gogo my drum with some more water added.

I'll ferment it for a week then start draining and using.

So long as it doesn't stink real bad , I'm ahead. I'll add some aloe vera mash after, say, three days.

Most of the diy recipes say 24 to 48 hours tops for fermenting then use straight away. Does not store well I suppose.

Have used Bokashi juice which they say doesn't store well but I could not use it all in 1 day so it got stored. Doesn't seem to harm it, smells OK, plants do well with it.

My novel adventure in get down and dirty fermenting for soil enhancement is underway. My initial mix of kitchen soak and food wash liquids + sugar + GoGo Juice... fermented nicely this last week.

Sweet smelling with a light brown head, it is not what I expected at all and very different from some 'teas' I could mention.

Today I  added a pulped mix of aloe vera and pigface. This blend was maybe 3 litres of mashed cellulose+. Very gelatinous.  Very green.

So I fed the plant....

I hope to top it up with water to around 50 litres and   decant the mix onto the garden in a  week's time.

But for now --what with the sugar and all the carbohydrates etc collected from the kitchen --  the ferment is ticking over. I'm not gonna drink it. Underneath the succulents' head the mix is a palid grey

En route I've had two yogurt brews to cull the whey from and add to the mix.

My approach was to add what came to hand out of kitchen activities...

FYI: I am establishing a micro-brew up as a regular routine using the rough formula of whey,kitchen washes and rinses+ sugar+water+inoculant mix+aloe vera and pigface mash.

I make up about 50-70 litres each fortnight. 

I have been using GoGo Juice as the inoculant but am now switching to aloe vera fertiliser (out of Bali) and combining that with aloe vera raw material -- as well as the rest of the fluids I collect.

Once I get a handle on the blend, I hope to be growing enough of the succulents to keep the production ticking over from plant matter i grow. I just blend up the succulents and throw in a batch of the gelatinous muck each week.

The aloe vera raw material is also supposedly useful in reducing bird, flying foxes (bats), pest attacks etc...whether that applies to Bush Turkeys is an open question.

The aloe vera fertiliser comes with a versatility template.Seed soaking for instance (1:50). A raw material and fertiliser combo is its own 'brew kit' (1:100) -- inoculant included. 

As well as sponsoring soil microbia I'm hoping the succulent 's properties are serviceable wetting agents. In the US, Yucca mixes are also used as wetting agents...but I'm suspecting many other succulents would also work: prickly pear and other cacti, for instance. I know pigface has that property.

Some info on Yucca's properties and also:

Organic yucca extracts are also a valuable addition to compost teas and other microbial inoculants. Since yucca contains complex sugars, it is a stable carbon source for plant-growth-promoting microorganisms in the root zone. Microorganisms convey many benefits to plants, including the mineralization of organic matter, improved root growth and induced resistance to pests and disease. So over time and with continuous use, yucca will help stabilize soil pH, decrease soil compaction, and increase the availability of essential trace elements to the roots.[LINK]

The irony is that aloe vera medicinal uses overshadow its horticultural utility.

While I have a few aloes growing, after I harvest the leaves for my brews I'm left with less material. So I've been dividing and planting the  babies as much as I can and planting them any and every where. 

While aloe is a companion to any plant, the FAO says  that as a strong-smelling plants it will deter pests by “putting them off the scent” .

In Iran, aloe vera is intercropped with maize as a companion plant but elsewhere intercropping with aloe is primarily deployed as a supplementary cash crop, such as paired with coconut.. 

In my experience -- limited as it is -- using succulents in the veg garden, I'm finding aloe more reliable than pigface which in my patch  has growth surges and fall backs. My initial perspective was to get the succulent matter into the sandy soil so I can hold onto water. With aloe you also get more bang for your effort...according to research. 

Hm interesting concept. Pigface flowers, seeds, dies and re-grows by itself. Unlike Aloe Vera though, there's a distinct lull in production.

How is Aloe Vera a strong-smelling plant? I've used it a bit for skin problems and not found much-to-no smell. I've plants sitting there doing nothing, perhaps I could utilise them in my coming Hugelkultur garden which will have Red Papayas as the main tenant. Although it would only be the roots - how do they hold water or are we talking about harvesting the leaves and burying them?

  • When you mash aloe it stinks but it's not an over powering smell. It's like the odour of baby vomit.
  • Bought skin gels are processed and the outer slime is separated off.So they aren't odourly.
  • The leaves work at the cellular level when mashed and hold water by attracting the water molecules. It functions too like dish washing liquid on the soil granules and alters the ionisation. They also use aloe as surfactant in fire fighting devices like masks. 
  • Intercropping works as it utilises aloe's root attributes resisting pests and promoting microbial activity.

FYI: We use an extract of the plant know as Aloe Vera. Our base aloe is the same one used by many hospitals to rehydrate damaged lungs. Aloe is unique because it has a water molecule surrounded by an oil molecule. It is this combination that attracts the gases and vapors found in fires. The “slick” feel of the aloe is the oil layer. This layer will not be diluted by water vapor from the wearer’s breath; in fact we have recently learned that the filter’s ability to filter gases is slightly enhanced by the combination of the water vapor and carbon dioxide from the wearer’s exhalation with the aloe gel in the filter.REF

My aloe vera fermenting routine is now well established.

  • I have a 90 litre drum/vat in which I add 1 kilogram  of raw sugar, aloe vera fertiliser and aloe vera raw material. (See discussion thread for links).
  • I then keep topping this up with 'washings', 'drainings' and 'cookings' from the kitchen over a 2 week period. In the mix yogurt and whey leftovers. (eg: washing and rinsing rice or veg, old tea, water I cooked veg in,bean soak water, water I use to soak my bread making bowl, potato peelings...Indeed any fluid  that has not been overly salted or with added fats.Any water I don't waste by running it down the sink.)
  • I use a colander  to strain the kitchen fluids as I pour it into my drum.
  • I add some more inoculant (aloe vera fertiliser) and raw material. Top it up to around 70 litres with fresh water and irrigate the garden with it, undiluted,  via watering cans.
  • My vat has a faucet on the bottom so I've got inoculated fertiliser on tap.

I also add some of the aloe vera fertiliser to the waters I sit my seedling pots in every other day.

THAT has been very successful. Excellent rooting. 

I also soak the seeds in a light aloe fert vera mix before planting...

If that's how the plants in the garden respond, I'm way ahead.

My own aloes are not verdant enough to depend on harvesting and mashing them for this volume involved (despite my own successful experiments)  -- not yet anyway -- but the aloe vera raw material is cheap enough.

I do recommend it.

Makes a great pairing. Longterm, I suspect I'll be dependent on the aloe vera fertiliser for the inoculant microbia.

A mix like this will surely suit composting bins. The fermenting activity is very strong because I'm supplying frank carbs and sugars  to feed the microbes. 

Think brewing.

And the good part: no pathogens like you get with fresh manures (if not composted for at least 3 months).


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