30 June 2010|
A couple of weeks ago, I overheard a conversation at Hayes Valley Farm containing the words “Lactobacillus” and “compost”. As I am a fan of both of these things, I felt it was my duty to butt in and see if I could provide any bacteria-themed facts. The result of this action lead Margaretha and I on something of a microbial scavenger hunt. The quest: to produce, well, a Lactobacillus compost.
If you have ever read a yogurt container or taken a pre or probiotic you have heard of Lactobacillus bacteria. These are the guys that eat lactose and poop out the lactic acid that gives yogurt its lovely sour taste. As a result, even if you are lactose intolerant, or can’t digest lactose high up in your digestive system, you can eat yogurt and not have the uncomfortable, lactose-induced side effects.
The “how” of producing the compost was really very easy (though a bit smelly). The recipe consists of a bit of old milk, some water that has been used to rinse white rice, and tap water. Friendly coffee shop people from down the street, who asked to remain anonymous, provided the milk and a good excuse to drink more coffee. A sushi restaurant close to the farm provided the rice wash. The water is courtesy of the city of San Francisco. The three ingredients were mixed together and left to sit to grow a lactobacillus-rich bacterial culture for about a week. The compost is ready to be sprayed on soil that could use amending as you read this. At the end of the article is the recipe for you to try on your plants at home.