How to Make and Use Garbage Enzymes
By Bhavani Prakash
Update to this article on 4th March 2011.
Based on the responses by readers and those whose opinions I have sought, I would advise readers to read the original blog entry below in the context of the next post: ”Responses: How effective are Garbage Enzymes?” where I make the introduction based on feedback:
The sum and substance of the feedback is that Garbage Enzymes (the term itself may be a misnomer) can be used as a homemade vinegar for non-edible cleaning purposes. The efficacy of Garbage Enzymes as a fertiliser or pesticide or an air purifier is not yet verified by scientific research. Even less obvious is its ability to lessen greenhouse gases. There are varying views on its contribution to waste management – in the local context, is composting a better way to manage waste, instead of adding molasses? Or can this be considered as one additional way to manage waste that would otherwise go to the incinerator?
The original article:
Garbage Enzymes are wonder home-made cleaners which double up as effective natural fertilisers and pesticides. They have the potential to revolutionise our kitchens by converting our kitchen waste into something truly restorative.
Who invented Garbage Enzymes (GE)?
I caught the garbage enzyme (GE) bug more than a year ago, when I learnt the fermenting process at Joyce Lye’s Kampung Senang Charity Foundation at Tampines, Singapore.
The formula was researched and popularised by the founder of the Organic Agriculture Association of Thailand, Dr. Rosukon Poompanvong who won an FAO award in 2003 for her outstanding contribution to organic farming, through her work in using fermented organic waste as fertilizers, pesticides and livestock feed.
What are Garbage Enzymes?
GE is nothing but a vinegar or alcohol derived from fermenting fresh kitchen waste such as veggie and fruit dregs (peels, cuttings and bits), sugar (brown sugar, jaggery or molasses sugar) and water.
The enzyme is derived after one filters and removes the residue after 3 months. The key ingredient is molasses, which the bacteria and microorganisms present in the waste metabolise into alcohol. This is reduced in its final form to acetic acid or vinegar. Vinegar with its acidic properties is well known as an all-round non-toxic cleaner.
How to make Garbage Enzymes
Molasses, Jaggery or Brown Sugar
Fresh vegetable and/or Fruit peels ( dregs, peels and cuttings which are not cooked)
Air-tight plastic container
1. In an airtight plastic container, measure and add
1 part molasses+ 3 parts veggie/fruit peels + 10 parts water
Example by weight: Weight 100g molasses or brown sugar + 300 g of veggie/fruit peel + 1000g of water
Use any multiples thereof, maintaining the same ratio
2. Give the mixture a good shake, and screw on the lid tightly.
The whole process takes less than 5 minutes to make once you’re all set up with the ingredients and container, and the fermentation takes a minimum of 3 months, so it’s best to stagger the enzyme making in batches with labels on the container indicating the date they are made. This will ensure a regular supply later on.
Please note: You’d need to keep the container airtight. However you must open the lid once a week or once every few days to let out the gases, otherwise they may build up to explode in the container.
Here are some pictures of how the GE should look like during fermenting:
3. After 3 months, you can filter the residue to get a clear, dark brown liquid that has a fresh, sour smell like vinegar. (Shown in the picture above)
How to use Garbage Enzymes.
Garbage Enzymes are concentrated vinegars and work better when diluted with water. The required dilution ratios are provided below.
For Organic Gardening or Farming:
Here are guidelines for your garden/farm for use as natural fertilisers, insecticides, pesticides and as a plant growth hormone. For highly degraded soils, spraying continuously for 3 months can help restore soil quality.
Please use diluted solutions as tried and tested above – they work better in homoeopathic quantities and are more effective. Concentrated solutions can burn the plant or make the soil too acidic.
I’ve been using a combination of home-made compost, vermicastings, as well as garbage enzymes, so together they help nourish the soils of my organic garden at home. However, I do know that at Tampines, Singapore Kampung Senang Charity Foundation exclusively uses GEs for their thriving community garden. They use GE once a week, by spraying the diluted solution (1:1000) on the leaves and the soil. The gardener likes to do this really early in the morning to facilitate better nutrient absorption.
For Household Use. Unlike for gardening, you can be more flexible with the dilution rates. Here are some suggestions:
Dos and Don’ts when making/using Garbage Enzymes
- Use an airtight plastic container, and not metal or glass ones which can’t expand as gases build up within the container, and may explode. Even with the plastic container, it’s important to open the lid once a week or once every few days during the first month and stir.
- Store the container in a dry and cool area away from direct sunlight. Keep the GE at room temperature and don’t store inside a refrigerator.
- Use any combination of fresh veggie or fruit peels or dregs. I personally prefer a combination of pineapple, papaya and citrus peels. Do not use cooked food, meat or fish, or other non-food items like paper, metal, glass, plastic and so on.
- Don’t worry about the white, black or brown substance that forms as a layer on top of the enzyme. The white layer is yeast that is rich in Vitamin B complex and Vitamin C and can actually be used for making bread or roti
- If you see worms, add an extra ratio sugar and cover air tight. They will disappear by themselves.
- You may filter out the residue after 3 months using a sieve or even and cotton cloth or T-shirt. If you can wait for 6 months, it’s even better. There is no expiry date for the GEs once filtered.
- Reuse the residue, as a fertiliser in the garden by drying and mixing with the soil, or combining it with fresh veggie/fruit dregs as a starter for a new GE batch.
- Dilute the GE with water for most uses. This increases its effectiveness. Dilution is especially important when using as fertilisers or pesticides for plants, where high concentrations can prove too acidic for them.
Making GEs will keep tons of kitchen waste from landfills and incinerators, including the plastic bags that are needed to bag them. Think of how much CO2 emitting fossil fuels can be avoided that would otherwise be used in making, packaging and transporting toxic cleaners, fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides.
Using GEs improves indoor air quality and promotes organic gardening or farming which will help generations to come, in terms of health and healthy soils.
Hope you’ll join me in fermenting and spreading the Garbage Enzyme revolution!
This article was first published on VegVibe, a Singapore based magazine on green living.
About the writer:
Bhavani Prakash is the Founder of Eco WALK the Talk .com and is a sustainability writer, speaker and trainer. She is passionate about the role of individuals and communities in bringing about the much needed change we need to see in the world. She can be contacted at bhavani[at]ecowalkthetalk.com. Follow Eco WALK the Talk on Facebook,Twitter, Linked IN and YouTube
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