Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

A Dry February and inoculant ferments (like GoGo Juice)

'Tis been a Summer on the dry side. Despite the humidity the rains not cometh that often and the garden has suffered in the heat.

Finally I'm getting a bit of height from my shade plantings -- Pigeon Pea and  Frangipani--   but I could have done with that elevation earlier in the season.

Keeping up the water has been  a hard task.  Although my terracotta pot system keep plants alive, they don't irrigate to a volume that promotes keen growth in sand, and supplementary hand watering cannot match a succession of downpours. 

So I lost some plants. The vulnerable seedling types. 

Around the corner, at the school garden we had to abandon  most of the planting out program because we  -- the children+ -- could not keep the seedlings alive.

And just when you think there's a problem in the making (what with the heat and all), the gods have dumped a big load of grass clippings on my nature strip so I'm now mulched up to Pussy's Bow.  

Now that's a rare occurrence.

So with the mulch a'mulching and the fact that this Summer I've planted out the whole patch --with plants --I have a grand estate.

And creeping over the aerials , various cucurbits (Tombochino, Cucuzza squash, Snake Gourd,  and iffy choko vines.) beans, yams  and passionfruit.

My hope was to have little shaded spots among the veg patch I could retire to read and ponder existence, but such options aren't mature enough yet. Maybe I could look to dying like Marlon Brando's Don in The Godfather:Vito Corleone Dies the Perfect Death. As it is no one can find  me out back so maybe even not demising there (or anywhere) is  a good idea.

I was late with corn planting, but the stalks are away...and the spuds I  chitted are coming on. I planted them in part shade. 

Into the soil this last week: Madagascar Beans, Black Beans, Buckwheat, more Sunflowers, Tommy Toes, a large number of Piper lolot/Pepper Leaf divisions and a sprinkling of Huauzontle. I'm only guessing seasons with most of these.

And I planted out my first wee seedlings of Trigridia in the hope I can sponsor a few bulbs.That I got the seeds to take is only part of the journey. 

This is what I seek: the bulbs (pictured right).

So rain: come on down!

In all that my best performers are the squashes: Serpent Gourd and Tombochino...and the passionfruit just keeps on coming.


I started cooking up some microbial juice...Wash waters + whey (from yogurt making)+ raw sugar+ a dash of milk  +Gogo juice... in my big green  drum with some more water added.I want to top the fluid up primarily with kitchen wash waters ( rice rinses, water from boiling veg, drained whatever...) so that I generate a harvestable volume.

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

So far so good. I have a sweet smelling mix that's beginning to bubble.I based my concoction on this ferment mix from Nicaragua. (see discussion HERE: Aloe Vera fertiliser.) but i'm relying on whatever knowledge I picked up making beer and sour dough bread.

While i'm keen to add more stuff i don't want a mash as i want to decant this mix directly into watering cans through the tap at the bottom and have enough fluid to coat the whole garden from each batch. But i will add pulped aloe vera once the ferment takes off. The process is aerobic. 

One little trick I learnt is that i drain my kitchen of its veg/grain wash water and rinses by emptying the fluids in a galvanized watering can placed  atop my hot water system near the back door. So it is warmed while it waits to be decanted, festering a medium that is attractive to wafting bacilli.

Compared to brewing up weed or manure  teas I'm liking this concoction.I may later experiment with manure tea bags ( a little jiggling) but for now I'm hoping the GoGoJuice  and whey lactobacillus will act as inoculant that will aggressively multiply.

And when you make yogurt, for instance, a little dab of inoculant from an old batch will do you. Success is all about conducive medium and temperature envelope

The primary advantage with manures --aside from their N:P:K --is that they a microbiome.

For now I may be winging it but I will do more homework...

My thinking is that i may have the nutrient needs -- the N:P:K plus rest --  of my garden covered but my soil micro biology may need a helping hand. 

Views: 484

Add a Comment

You need to be a member of Brisbane Local Food to add comments!

Join Brisbane Local Food

Comment by James Rosenlund on February 23, 2016 at 9:08

I'm with you on that one Andy.

Well things are looking up ---- my ckokos are now flowering, only male flowers so far, but the female flowers shouldn't be too far away.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on February 22, 2016 at 22:48

Anyone who doesn't value a ferment has never eaten or drunk at my place.  

Comment by Dave Riley on February 22, 2016 at 12:56

Just to clarify: your gut vs the dirt -- is a major topic of dispute as there are such things as soil based probiotics or SBOs (Goggle it) -- indeed it is a growing alternative pharmacopeia industry FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.

Not my tucker though.

I wouldn't suggest you eat your own i think there are mediations between our gut and the soil that we should cooking, ferments, salt and vinegar. 

But the point is clear: our gut  and the dirt and compost and rotting business outback are all on a metabolic continuum, deploying crossover microbes because we are fueled by the same carbohydrates..

I used to nurse demented folks who ate faeces but Geophagia -- soil eating -- is much more common as any parent of a baby will attest.

Comment by Dave Riley on February 22, 2016 at 11:15

No. I dabble, Andrew...and it's such obsessive fun!

But consider enteric fermentation inside a cow or kangaroo or whatever: it's all done by the microorganisms. We are also discovering that humans too -- their health and welfare -- may also be greatly dependent on our own customized microbiome. Just like a sour dough leaven.

In part this is why yogurt is so popular; it's a probiotic --supposedly a magical foodstuff.

But no cow ever argued about greens vs browns--indeed the production of manure by a  cow, sheep, goat or horse  is much closer to composting protocols than folk may think.

When I make yogurt, now and then I open one of the pharmacy's probiotic capsules and stir that bug mix in. Hypothertically I could do the same to these kitchen wash ferments. But I'm assuming GoGo Juice is closer to soil needs.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on February 21, 2016 at 23:40

You do some quite impressive stuff Dave.  Just saying... 

Comment by Dave Riley on February 21, 2016 at 22:56

There are indeed a lot of bug mixes out there!

I just reviewed some of them including urine ferments.

One comprehensive collection of DIY options (PDF)  , from Africa, insists you start your ferments with forest mulch and/or soil. That makes sense: a dash of the real McCoy living and pristine soil -- that is not your own.

What i think I'm doing is not only sponsoring lactobacillus via the milk and whey but if I throw in some of this here GoGoJuice --or equivalent -- I'm inoculating the ferment.

More or less extending the bottle of stuff I paid money for by activating it before it reaches the soil so that it reproduces greatly in the nutrient mix.

What confuses me is that some processes are supposedly anaerobic and some are supposedly aerobic -- but really, at this level of concocting you  aren't going to get a purely anaerobic  process.

Brew times vary -- but ingredient categories not so much although the extras can be quite exotic.

I reckon it's just home cookin'. Like making soup or a stew...or brewing beer (and some folk use open brew methods anyway.)

When you look at the array of recipes you have to ask: how did they know one worked better than another? That's why the horticultural industry mixes are useful as they are backed by peer review research (you'd assume) and are sold for commercial production. Indeed this stuff is becoming a major  horticulture input as it flags a shift away from chemistry.

I've not taken to any compost or manure tea routines I've tried before -- but this work around is more in my lifestyle habits. Since I get to supply the inoculant and the nutrients one by one I also get to decide how long I want the ferment to brew.

So i reckon if I keep topping up the stew with these rinses I'm feeding the wort as a sort of sustainable project. A bit more sugar . Throw in some grains or greenery (like the aloes)...and it isn't messy or smelly like so many tea concoctions.

Ironically, vegetable and grain washes/rinses will start to ferment anyway. Usually in the first 24 hours if there is a good temperature (>30C) in the container they are kept in. Throw in some powerhouse fuel  -- like sugar -- and sponsor your bug preference with inoculant of your choice. Then add in any extras  to make your brew a tad boutique.


If you skip the manure and dirt additions you are  less likely to sponsor  nasty pathogens.(Although I just thought that seeped rice may harbour a few of the nasty strains of Bacillus cereus which causes the "fried rice syndrome". But then the cereus family is a well known soil probiotic anyway and is used in animal feed to combat salmonella). 

If you start getting into microbiology in detail you'd drown, I reckon. It's a tad too obsessive for my skillset. To give you an idea , heres' a short list of a standard Bokashi inoculant mix -- but even they vary greatly:

I wish I'd paid more attention in microbiology classes. In comparison, your normal everyday tub of yogurt to get where it has got to relied on a similar bacteria mix:  Streptococcus salivarius, Lactobacillus delbrueckii,Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium adolescentis , Streptococcus lactis,Streptococcus bulgaricus,Escherichia coil,Bacillus substallis, Streptococcus thermophilusStreptococcus liquifiecence, Bacillus substallis, and Streptococcus paracitrovorus.

As well all the nutrient additives you may throw in--as well as the air all about -- every ingredient carries their own bacteria spores.

Comment by Dianne Caswell on February 21, 2016 at 19:20

Glad to see someone else is using GO GO Juice, I love it. The smell is quite pleasant too which is a bonus. The first time I brought it, it was a guy from Neutrog that recommended it to me, it is their product. If I had see it on the shelf myself I would have thought it a bit of a joke and probably not worth buying with a name like that. But I'm pleased I did.

Comment by Dave Riley on February 21, 2016 at 16:23

Well I'm just dabbling. Following my nose. 

I reckon if you add a little something that is on the soil microbia menu that's all for the good. If you can make and add beasties that do god's work underground that's even better.

But the way i look at it composting is a lot of hard work which is seldom completed correctly... 

I'm interested in short cuts that carry a risk factor I can monitor.

My scraps go to the chooks so I'm not incorporating their feed in my chemistry. I am beginning with wash water, cook fluids and rinses; yogurt slops,'s remarkable how much stuff you can bucket from a kitchen and I've been doing it for years.

Indeed if you consider the options we should be doing more soaking and sprouting of grains, seeds and legumes to protect ourselves.

Usually I just pour it on the garden...waste not/want not.

But what if -- methinks -- I harnessed all  that fluid as nutrient to grow bugs and then diluted that mix to cover the whole garden -- not just in dribs and drabs.

Maybe i can add soaks: leftover rice...or porridge ...cornmeal...and mix in some juiced aloe vera (and maybe pigface). It's just like cheffery -- cooking up a storm.

After all it's all about the metabolism of carbohydrates.

If I just water my garden occasionally with a GoGo juice, or similar inoculant mix, I don't know if it works as that's a lot of irrigating about without built in monitoring. 

As for Bokaski -- method aside, it is based on a Korean tradition, I gather, and the Koreans and Japanese are such skilled fermenters. But I assume we are pitching for a ballpark scale for bugs.

As this diagram suggests:

I know it looks complicated but if you study it you can pick up the logic.

And the way I look at it, all roads lead to Rome....just don't bust a gut on your journey.


Comment by Elaine de Saxe on February 21, 2016 at 14:33

Thanks Dave. There really are a lot of bug mixes out there now.

I used Bokashi for years. You bet it's a tad exxy. There's recipes around to diy but it sounds tricky. The liquid is great on plants and the solids (vege scraps) went well in compost but I need to add a lot of dry matter, it's very wet. I make my own 'prepared 500' Biodynamic spray which is cheap as and keeps the scraps in good order until composting.

At the time it became popular here, Bokashi was all that was readily available to the keen gardener. Now it's been overtaken by many diy recipes and a greater appreciation of the vital role the bugs play in plant nutrition. We've moved on from Bokashi to less expensive and more bespoke mixes.

Comment by Dave Riley on February 21, 2016 at 12:27

GoGo juice is made by Neutrog and it is a brewed microbial inoculant mixed with a kelp, seaweed, fish, humic acid and manure combo. 

Info sheet HERE (pdf)

Many proprietary mixes are expensive but GoGo is cheaper (and available thru Bunnings).

What's the diff one from the other? I'm not certain but the Soil Food Web folks are obsessive about customising...and I can get those mixes from a supplier at the Caboolture Mkets. Thats' their edge: boutique bugs. 

Since I'm reading  Bokashi Composting: Scraps to Soil in Weeks (free reading sample)-- I'm surprised how expensive that setup can be.

But hey: so easy!

Of course any system is sure to be targeted microbial specifics...but then if you are going to brew up a mix using the core organic ingredients to hand my guess is that you'll be in the same biota ballpark anyway.

In that regard the Nicaraguan recipe is pretty much out there: milk PLUS sugar + poo. 

Yum:Exciting kitchen capers.

I'm using GoGo as a starter inoculant....because it is to hand and I found diluting it and mixing it and sprinkling it about is labour intensive...and probably wasteful. Also I don't have cow manure and the manure in the Nicaraguan mix is the inoculant...although the air kicks in its fare share.

With all due respect to the professional biological chemists I'm thinking that you can't overdose your soil with  a bug mix. With pH fiddles and N:P:K you can -- but critters? It's like slurping yogurt four times a day; it won't kill you...despite the way the  biota  may lower the pH.

After working a few hospitals you get to respect the bugs in the air and their massive capacity to colonise. In the soil...well that lifecycle business explodes. Even the same household members share the same microbes on their skin, orifices and such. 

The family that stays together gets inoculated together. there is no escaping their invasive presence.

My microbiology was not so good in the past medical sense but home brewing & baking is its own teacher.And if you have ever started your own wort -- especially chasing spores to grow sourdough the kitchen no longer looks as pristine as it once seemed.

RELATED: I just got myself some cornmeal/polenta -- and am going to sprinkle that about the patch too. 

Important note about adding photos:

Always add photos using the "From my computer" option, even if you are on a mobile phone or other device.


  • Add Photos
  • View All


  • Add Videos
  • View All


Vetiver grass helps to stabilise soil and protects it against erosion.  It can protect against pests and weeds. Vetiver is also used as animal feed. (Wiki.)

GrowVetiver is a plant nursery run by Dave & Keir Riley that harvests and grows Vetiver grass for local community applications and use. It is based in Beachmere, just north of Brisbane, Australia.

Place your business add here! ($5 per month or $25 for 9 months)

Talk to Andy on 0422 022 961.  You can  Pay on this link

© 2021   Created by Andrew Cumberland.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service