Effective Microorganisms® And SCD Probiotics – Wow!

Bio Ag


Canadians can get it here

If you had to choose only one product to bring into your garden, this would be it.

The benefits are many, from reduced pests to dramatically improved plant health.

It’s the first inoculant I recommend for everyone.

(An inoculant is a product that brings beneficial microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi into your garden, and this one just happens to be one of the best.)

I’ve seen so many gardens benefit from using it that it has stayed at the very top of my list for many years now.

YouTube video

First, a little terminology. The original was called Effective Microorganisms®, known as EM® for short, and it’s still a good option.

Many people, including myself, tend to use “Effective Microorganisms” and “EM” as generic terms to describe many different brands of similar products that exist, but technically those terms are trademarked by EM Research Organization, Inc.

There’s a newer product I use made by SCD Probiotics (formerly EM Original).

The Main Benefits Of EM and SCD Probiotics

Effective Microorganisms In Bangkok
Effective Microorganisms being used after a flood in Bangkok to help clean water, control odors and break down toxins.

This product brings many benefits to the garden:

  • Reducing pests by out-competing them on plant surfaces and in the soil, so they don’t get a chance to cause damage to your plants.
  • Improving processes from germination to photosynthesis to fruiting, so you get bigger, higher-yielding plants.
  • Helping plants to more efficiently use organic fertilizers, so they have all the nutrients they need to be healthy, and the food they produce is more nutrient-dense.
  • Cleaning up dirty water and removing toxins from soil, plants and even septic tanks.

There are hundreds of trials that have shown benefits for soil health, composting and plant health.

Interestingly, it has many other uses as well:

  • Helping decrease radiation from nuclear disasters, and toxins and smells from other natural disasters.
  • Disinfecting buildings and hospital surfaces.
  • Spraying on farm animals (and pets) to control odors and diseases, and to increase their overall health.
  • Making a special fermented compost called bokashi that is really useful for composting your food scraps.

About SCD Probiotics ‘ProBio Balance’

SCD Probiotics is the company name, and ProBio Balance is their mother culture. It’s similar to the Effective Microorganisms product EM-1.

Like the original EM-1, ProBio Balance is made by people who studied under Dr. Teruo Higa, the Japanese professor of horticulture who formulated EM in the 70s and 80s.

What Dr. Higa found after much experimentation was that if you bring together this specific selection of helpful bacteria and yeasts in the right proportions, they have a remarkable impact in a garden.

For those who are interested (feel free to skip this list if you’re not), there are 3 classes of microbes:

  • Lactic Acid Bacteria: Bifidobacterium animalis, B. bifidum, B. longum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. casei, L. delbrueckii subsp bulgaricus, L. fermentum, L. plantarum, Lactococcus lactis subsp lactis, Streptococcus thermophilus
  • Yeast and other: Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Bacillus subtilis
  • Phototrophic Bacteria: Rhodopseudomonas palustris and R. sphaeroides

Microbes are responsible for feeding and protecting plants as well as improving the soil, and these ones just happen to be especially good at it.

Most of these beneficial microorganisms are fairly common fermenting organisms such as those found in wine, yogurt and bread, but they have to be mixed together in the right proportions to offer the benefits I’ve been sharing.

That’s why the labs that make it need to have a lot of equipment and a lot of knowledge, and it’s why we can’t make it on our own.

By the way, be sure to read the comparison to both compost tea and mycorrhizal fungi on the right side of the page (bottom of the page on mobile).

Who Needs This The Most?

ProBio Balance Quality Control
Whereas compost tea quality is highly variable, EM and Probio production is tightly controlled in the lab.

The benefits of these products are often so impressive that I have to remember not to imply that the products are magic bullets that will have an explosive impact on all gardens.

But with regular applications, the results are can be astonishing, especially on gardens that aren’t yet optimally healthy.

That lack of health can be for many reasons, such as when the soil had been overworked by construction equipment at some point, for example, or when chemicals had been sprayed in the area in the past.

In a healthy, relatively untouched ecosystem, these organisms are already going to be there, and while EM/SCD might still be helpful in this case, it’s in the degraded ecosystems most of us are dealing with where the benefits are much more visible.

I’ve seen rather sickly lawns and gardens transformed into much healthier, fuller landscapes after one season of monthly applications.

I’ve never seen the results that were obtained in some of the early EM trials (e.g. 50% increase in yields) and I would never expect gains that huge with any product, but I often see an overall boost in plant health and vitality, and a decrease in pest problems.

So I recommend everyone should try this product. It may actually be a magic bullet for you.

If you’ve been using quality compost for years in your garden, you may not see as big of a change, but I still recommend a 1-quart bottle of the Bio Ag as being a very affordable product to try just to see what happens.

I make and use compost every year and yet I still use SCD Probiotics monthly in the garden, just to be sure.

Plus I use it for many other things – a probiotic for myself, to control odors, to clean kitchen surfaces, to remove rust – all kinds of really helpful uses.

Which One Should You Choose?

If you’re interested in picking up a bottle of the product I use, there are 2 options for what you can get.

1. The first is called ProBio Balance Original and it’s a ‘mother culture,’ so it’s been created in the lab to very specific specifications with all of these species of beneficial microbes.

What that means for you is although you’re welcome to use some of it right away, you can also mix some of it with molasses and water to create 20 times more than the original bottle.

That process is called ‘activation’ and takes at least a couple of weeks to do well, but it’s a great way to save money, especially useful if you have a bigger area to cover.

Here are my instructions on how to do the activation.

2. The second option is called Bio Ag and it’s already activated.

That means the lab has taken the mother culture and activated it for you. You can’t reliably activate it further, but you can use it right away in the garden.

If you have a regular not-too-big residential garden, you may only need a 1 quart bottle for the year anyway, so it’s easy just to go that route.

Personally, I go with option 1 in order to save money and because I enjoy the process of activating the mother culture, but some people go for option 2 to keep things simple.

How Much Do You Need?

A few years ago, I went through a bunch of research that had been done with Effective Microorganisms in agriculture.

While the application rate for home gardens is often recommended at 500ml per 1000 square feet, I noticed they were using much less in agriculture.

It often worked out to about 1 quart per 1000 square feet per year.

So I settled on close to that. These days I use 1/2 cup per 1000 square feet once a month during my whole growing season (regardless of whether I use the mother culture or the activated product). I end up using it about 8 times per year.

So for me, 1 quart does about 1000 square feet for a whole year (8 applications * 1/2 cup).

And if you buy the Probio Balance ‘mother culture’ and ‘activate’ it with molasses and water, you can make 20 times as much, so you can cover 20 times the area.

(Note: you can still get benefits from using substantially less, even just 1 cup per 1000 square feet for a whole year, and the recommendations say you could also use a lot more, up to 5 quarts per 1000 square feet for a whole year. Long story short, there’s a lot of flexibility when it comes to application rates.)

How To Use It

Whether you use the mother culture or the activated product, you’d ideally mix it with about 250 times as much water, which is 1 Tbsp of inoculant per gallon of water.

A hose-end sprayer comes in really handy to get that dilution rate because you can just set the sprayer to spray 1 Tbsp per gallon of water and spray away without thinking.

I’ve never had any issues, but in theory, it’s better to avoid spraying buds and flowers that are in bloom because they can be sensitive to the acidity of the product.

I’ll mention that some guides say you can get by with a 1:100 ratio (5 Tbsp per gallon of water) while others suggest 1:500 (1/2 Tbsp per gallon of water) to be safe. And yet, I’ve talked to the higher-ups at SCD and they said, for less sensitive applications like lawns and soil applications, you can go way down, even 1:10 if you need to (1.5 cups per gallon of water), which is handy if you’re using a standalone sprayer where you just don’t have enough room to get the higher dilution rates.

Long story short, I recommend a 1:250 ratio but you can get by with much less water for less sensitive applications.

Both Probio Balance and Bio Ag are great mixed with molasses, liquid seaweed, liquid fish, and sea minerals. They also go well with compost tea and mycorrhizal fungi.

When I’m brewing compost tea, I’ll actually put 2 Tbsp into the 5-gallon bucket during the brewing process, and then I’ll add the rest right when I’m ready to spray.

You Can Get It Here


In summary, these inoculants are:

  • Based on the principles of Effective Microorganism applied science started by Dr. Teruo Higa in Japan.
  • Proven to: increase seed germination, improve plant health, increase nutritional uptake of plants and enrich the soil
  • Organic, OMRI Listed – containing NO chemicals or GMOs

As a bonus when you order today, I’ll also enroll you in my Effective Microorganisms course.

Just choose the product that works for you and click ‘Add To Cart’ up above!


  • I ship in the U.S. only. I ship 7 days a week.
  • In the continental U.S., shipping is $15.
  • All of my products have a 1 year 100% money-back guarantee.
  • If you have a question about a product, leave it in the comment section below I'll try to respond within a few hours.
  • Dry fertilizers and compost tea brewers ship separately so they will arrive on their own maybe a day or 2 apart from my other products.
  • I send a percentage of every order to Thrive For Good and other similar organizations. They're working mostly in Africa to help communities grow organic, medicinal food for themselves, and then use the surplus food to generate income for themselves as well as feeding the orphans in their communities.

Free $25 Bonus When You Buy Today

When you buy ProBio Balance Original or Bio Ag, you get enrolled in my online course all about EM, with a detailed effective microorganisms recipe for how to activate the culture and make 20 times more than the original. I also teach you how to do EM bokashi composting. It’s about 80 minutes worth of videos.

*Effective Microorganisms, EM, and EM1 are registered trademarks of EM Research Organization in Japan. TeraGanix is the exclusive distributor for EM Technology in the US and Canada.


  1. We have started a garden of overly ambitious size (50 x 115 feet- a lot for one person to manage!), hoping to produce a variety and sizeable quantity of produce. However, it’s size has me somwhat intimidated and I am seldom able to concentrate on all the techniques you spell out in your lessons. Since it used to be a field behind our rural home in central Texas, I am battling with this network of ‘evil’ grasses with runner roots that are almost impenetrable. We’re only in our second year, but I hope that each year, as I spend countless hours sifting and digging them out, I might inch my way to an improvement. So my goals, not necessarily in the order of importance, are 1.) To get it to where there are mostly just the ‘regular’ weeds throughout the garden. 2.) To create a unique decorative entrance/gate, pretty corners, edges, and vignettes here and there to give me visual pleasure as I work. I’ve established meandering paths through the space, inspired by the Japanese garden aesthetic where there are no straight lines in nature. 3.) To grow mostly heirloom vegetables, and save seeds from year to year. 4.) And I am concerned with getting the organic content of the beds built up. So… I’m a bit overwhelmed. Hopefully, I can concentrate on improving just a couple of the beds at a time, add some compost now, and maybe do some (lasagna) layering in between seasons. Any advice for such a project?

    1. Hi Renate, wow that is ambitious. It sounds like I’m too late, but my firstadvice for others reading this would be to start smaller and work your waybigger, rather than being in a constant state of overwhelm. What I would doif I were you is take a big part of the garden and cover crop it. Covercrops are an amazing way to build your soil when you don’t have enoughcompost/mulch materials. In most of North America, a mixture of clover orvetch and cereal rye or annual ryegrass works well, but central Texas may bea bit different. A good garden centre will know. A grass is better than alegume for building long-term organic matter, and you can find one thatwon’t be weedy.

      1. jonathan lawrence says:

        i love how masanobu fukuoka started to improve soil with dandelions, burdock, & daikon. dandelion especially because it is one of my favorite plants of all time. i have a hundred thousand dandelion seeds or so, but i don’t know how long they stay viable or if they need to be stratified..

        1. Yes, dandelions are wonderful for the soil and for us. Daikon, too.

  2. JonathanBrown20 says:

    Does EM compete with other compost tea microbes, or does it promote their well being? If the latter, how does it work?

    1. connie milne says:

      It enhanses your compost tea.  I add EM to the compost tea right before I spray it on my garden.  All good things rolled into one.  Compost Tea is aerobic and eM IS anaerobic and each one benefits diferent organisms.

    2. Hi Jonathan, EM microbes get along well with compost tea microbes. When I first started, I was taught differently, so I was always alternating between compost tea and EM applications, which was a pain. Then I did more research and learned that EM is a really nice ingredient in compost tea. And even if not used as an ingredient, it’s great to combine them during application.The microbes in EM promote the well being of many other microbes just by virtue of the things they do. It’s probably fairly complicated how it all works. They produce hormones, enzymes, vitamins, amino acids, sugars, and other bioactive substances. They do all kinds of good stuff. These processes help some microbes out and keeps other microbes in check. It’s all very complex, and definitely interesting.

  3. I hope you made a video for EM too!

  4. Sallyslak says:

    Hi Phil – I’ve been enjoying your video series, thanks!  Have you had any luck brewing your own EM?  It’s quite expensive to buy and I had no luck with my first attempt. I haven’t used it much on plants as yet, but is’s great at keeping down the ammonia smells in the chicken and sheep sleeping quarters.Sally

    1. Hi Sally, yes I’ve activated hundreds of gallons of EM over the last few years. I go into great detail on how to do it in the Smiling Gardener Academy, but that won’t be available until 2012, so perhaps I’ll write a blog on just the basics in the next couple of months.

      1. Sallyslak says:

        Excellent! I understand your reasoning for delaying the Academy but the timing’s lousy for us southern-hemispherers  :-)Sally

        1. Ya, I’m sorry! It was a difficult decision to delay the launch of the academy because I put hundreds and hundreds of hours into it this year, so to have it “sitting on the shelf” for the next few months will be difficult. But it just felt right to wait. Hope you’ll stay tuned to the blog until launch day…

  5. I had not heard of this before.  Thanks for explaining it.

  6. Vince Cirasole says:

    I started using endorhizomicrobials this past October on my garlic planting.                They are supposed to give significantly effective support to a plant’s root system.  I won’t be able to report on the results until the plants emerge in the spring.Do your Effective Microorganisms include any rhizomicrobials?  Which ones?

    1. Hi Vince, I think you’re talking about endomycorrhizal fungi, a great product. EM is a great product, too, but it doesn’t contain them. It contains mostly fermenting bacteria.

  7. Phil I know this is a very busy week for you and congrats on the Academy!  You must be a busy guy right now…I am a week into activating my EM and keep wondering about a couple things.  I understand the molasses feeding the mother culture when activating, but what is the purpose of the other bits of fish, kelp, seacrop…how important are the particular things like this?  Are other inputs possible or even desirable, or are the three normally used for a special reason?Also, I’m anxious to give my indoor plants a kick, and wondered if it’s wrong to use the EM after only a week or two…I remember something about it having to reach a certain pH to make sure it’s “done”.  Does that mean it won’t work or will even be detrimental at this early stage?

    1. Hi Glen, thanks! Yes, it’s a busy, exciting week. It’s important to wait before applying the EM, so if you’re anxious to hit your indoor plants now, I suggest using just a tiny bit of your mother culture. You could just take 1ml and mix it with 2 cups of water and spray your plants. That’s all you need.The other biostimluants are just to give broad spectrum nutrients to the microbes. In my opinion, it’s very helpful to do this, but it’s certainly not necessary. Those 3 are just some of the best biostimulants. There are others, but I stick to those.

  8. CHRIS ARSCOTT says:


    1. I would just start searching around online Chris. There are several vendors online and lots of websites.

  9. Colleenjw says:

    Hi Phil – we have a dugout that has poor quality water -is there a ratio to use to improve it

    1. Hi Colleen, it is used in ponds at anywhere from 1 part EM to 200-20,000 parts water in the pond.

  10. Africanaussie says:

    I always thought that air had to be added to everything, and that anaerobic microorganisms were bad.  It seems that everything has their place… I am putting a link to this article in my blog post this week.

  11. I’m interested in using EM as a probiotic. Does anyone use it this way and know how much to take? I’m also curious about using this stuff to make lacto-fermented vegetables.

    1. I drink probably 1-3 teaspoons of EM every day. I take the regular stuff, but there are food grade ones made for people. For fermenting vegetables, I just make a brine out of salt and water – have not tried adding EM before.

      1. So if your EM product can be drunk like a fermented food product, then can the liquid from the fermented foods that I make at home (sauerkraut, pickles, etc.) be used to water my garden or at least in my compost pile?

        1. Absolutely. It won’t bring all the benefits of EM, but there may be some. Those ferments sometimes have a lot of sodium, so you’ll want to dilute them with water.

      2. I have long haul Covid and am taking ivermectin to stop the viral replication. (Plus all the vitamins recommended) I am also trying to balance my gut (even though it is not food grade) with EM. about 1 tsp. a day I am not sure how much it is helping, (it sure isn’t hurting), but I firmly believe that this virus messed up my gut and one of the keys to get over this is getting as many good bugs back in my gut as possible. Thanks to you Phil, I have some on hand and my gut, compost and plants thank you too!

  12. Hi Phil- I have been using EM for bio remediation.I want to know whether the EM can survive in aerobic condition or not..

    1. Many of the microorganisms survive when put into an aerobic environment (e.g. sprayed into a garden), but the EM culture itself would more quickly move to a different, non-EM mix of microbes if it were to sit, for example, out in a tub with a lot of exposure to the air.

  13. Do I have to make one huge batch at once with the mother culture or can I make several small batches throughout the summer? If I have to make one big batch, how long can it sit without going bad?My soil is pretty bad, I have clay. I’ve been working it 9 years and while they have gotten better, they aren’t nearly as good as a friend we call the Green Giant because his garden is phenomenal….beets the size of a kickball and not woody at all! I really hope this makes a difference.

    1. You can make many batches. The mother culture lasts a good couple of years. Once you make a batch, it’s good to use it within a couple of months if possible.Sounds like you need to also send a soil sample to an organically-minded soil lab and have them give you some fertilizer recommendations in order to balance the nutrient ratios, which can have a big impact on your clay soil.

      1. Would you suggest some US labs?Are these much better than extension service test?

          1. I do not see a soil lab listing on their website any longer. The prior link is removed but I did look around and did a search. Is there an updated list. Thanks.

          2. Hi Alysa, I’ve updated the above link.

      2. Hi Phil, great site!! Are you saying the mother culture lasts for a couple of years even AFTER opening the bottle? I’m considering activating little by little from one bottle since one big batch feels like too much to keep especially if the activated stuff doesn’t store as well as the mother culture, which sounds like the case, correct??

        On your other page about activation (https://www.smilinggardener.com/soil-food-web/how-to-make-effective-microorganisms/), at stage #15, you say air in the container of the activated final stuff is NOT good if you want it to last long. So that’s why i wanted a clarification above. Thank you!!

        1. Yes, it usually does, even after opening the bottle. And yes, I just activate a little at a time, although the activated stuff can store for quite a while too, provided the activation works out well.

          That’s right, a little air is good in the beginning but in the long run, for storage, you want it filled to the brim.

    2. Nick Kennedy says:

      Hi Michelle, I found a huge plastic protein powder jar (about 6 L) and I am using that to make the EM in. This is my first year using EM, and my 2nd year using Sea Crop. I am expecting a bumper crop of course. We’ll see how it turns out in a few mos.

    3. You mentioned in you quick video that you spray once a month with EM. How late in the season do you spray until. I live in Ontario Canada.

      1. I would spray at least the leaves have fallen, so October or even November. It’s nice to rake those leaves into the garden and give them a good spray along with your now-bare plants.

  14. You have answered a LOT of questions with all the info above, but my question is much more basic: our first gallon of your EM arrived safe and sound today. But it looks like the spout is part of the shipping carton. Do I open the carton and remove the gallon jug or just leave it in the carton and pry off the plastic lid to access the EM? That seems a little weird, but I want to do it right. Thanks.

    1. I just leave the carton in place. It kind of holds the shape of the plastic container together.

  15. How do I add the mycorrhizal product to my order on this page without making two separate orders?

    1. As long as you add them both to your cart within a reasonable time, they’ll be on the same order. So you can add one of them to your cart, hit the back button (or the ‘Continue Shopping’ button), then go to another product page and add another product to your cart, and so on. I’m here if you need help 🙂

      1. I entered my order which came to $51, but the shipping came up as $40, not the $20 you explained in your shipping section. What is going on?

        1. Are you in Hawaii or Alaska?

          1. Ohio

          2. Hi Julie, I just got an order from Ohio and it went through correctly. Make sure your country is set to United States.

  16. When making Bokashi, can leaves be used? What others materials can be used?

    1. I’ve made it with many different kinds of organic materials. It definitely seems to work best with fine material like sawdust, but I’ve done it with chopped straw and leaves and it worked out okay.

  17. I’m in England, so not cheap to get it sent from the US> Can I use Water Kefir instead?

    1. You might be able to find it if you search online in England for either effective microorganisms or scd probiotics. Water Kefir will probably bring some benefits – not as much as EM, but worth using for sure.

      1. http://www.effectivemicro-organisms.c... appears to be the authorised dealer, but there’s no advertised products for household gardeners on their website. I’ve dropped them an email enquiring as to whether products are available – we’ll see what they say when they reply.

  18. Hi: ‘not a terribly experienced gardener but I think I’ll try to order and mix some of your garden “goodies.” I have almost no “lawn” (green grass) but tons of plants and shrubs and even a small area where built raised beds for veggies, herbs and a few flowers too.Here is my question: Recognizing you cannot suggest the product/probiotics for human consumption, I am establishing an “IF Situation.” IF I had a very large dog/animal, say 130 pounds, and she was about 73 years old how much of the probiotic stuff should I feed her, how often and at what strength? At present, she is being given 2 probiotic pills each day on an empty stomach.Also, I do live near the sea/ocean and am anxious to go and retrieve some sea water to use in spraying my plants, trees and earth. I am assuming this should be strained first in case there are particles that will damage or stop up the spray bottle attachment you speak of. Do I need any additional advice or suggestions from you on this topic?

    1. I should have added that I do not use chemical outside or inside. My “animal” has been challenging cancer so we try to live as close to organic as we can

      1. Nick Kennedy says:

        To Barbra, I am long time vegan, and my 2 cats I have had over the past 20 years never get sick. I haven’t been sick since I went veggy in 1986. I NEVER fed either of my cats the SLAUGHTERHOUSE CRAP. IT IS POISON! They got/get tuna fortified with a capsule of chlorella, same of ginseng, a sprinkle of kelp powder, moringa powder, same of hemp hearts, I rinse the can with a little colloidal silver, with a few drops of FOOD GRADE H2O2 added . Now I put a few drops of Sea Crop in as well. Once I get the EM, I will add that in small doses too. I also give my cat wheatgrass in a dropper now and again. I also keep a little coconut oil in a dish for her. Dessicated cranberries with yeast too. She loves it. I don’t use doctors, or vets bc I don’t need them. I use PREVENTATIVE medicine, starting with CLEAN FOOD.

    2. The food grade product says to take 1-3 Tbsp per day. I tend to do probably max 1 Tbsp most days, and then more like 3 Tbsp if I feel a cold coming on or something like that.Good question about straining the sea water. I haven’t used enough water straight from the ocean to cause clogging, so I never figured it would be an issue, but perhaps you’re right that over time it might become one. I’m not sure though – I don’t strain it.

  19. Just wondering if EM is sold in Atlantic Canada. Can’t find it anywhere other than the west coast.Love your videos; thanks so much for them!

    1. Not that I know of. I think it’s only out west right now. But shipping isn’t too expensive from the Organic Gardener’s Pantry.

  20. Jason LaMarche-Hunderup says:

    I would like to purchase some ProBio Balance. You mention elsewhere on the site that you don’t ship in Canada. How do I get this product? How can I access the video if I don’t buy the product from you?I’ve been learning about bokashi recently and want to use it along with my worm bins. If you add bokashi compost to the soil do you get the same benefits as using the EM directly, do you get more benefits? What about using bokashi compost that has been eaten by worms? Is that the holy grail of soil inoculants?

    1. You can buy the product in Canada at http://www.gardenerspantry.ca Good, finished bokashi compost is potentially more beneficial than just straight EM for the soil because it contains composted organic matter along with the beneficial microbes. The worms do bring their own benefits, too.

      1. I grow herbs and ornamental plants indoors and deal with some of the same pests as with outdoor plants. What products of yours, if any, would you recommend? Mixing ratios, etc.?
        What organic fertilizers do you recommend, especially for the culinary herbs that I use?

        1. Neem oil can be helpful with many pests. Other than that, I like combining the Bio Ag and Sea Minerals to create healthier plants that don’t get attacked as much by pests and that also provide more nutrition for your culinary herbs.

  21. When would be the best time to start using the Bio Ag around my fruit trees? Do I need to wait until danger of frost is past?

    1. It actually can be helpful in theory to use it now, even year round. Certainly the most benefit will be during the active growing season, but I like to do a spray before bud break, too. Good practice also 🙂

      1. Where do you spray? On the plant or the soil?

  22. Hi, I just received my order and did not realize that i ordered the mother culture scd. There are no directions on the bottle. You say i can use some right away, how much dilution.and can i mix sorgam syrup instead of molasses and how much? Audrey

    1. Hi Audrey, I’ll paste it in from up above: “Whether you use the mother culture or the activated product, mix it with at least 250 times as much water, which is 1 Tbsp of inoculant per gallon of water, or about 8 gallons of water for each 1/2 cup of inoculant.”You can mix sorghum syrup for use in the garden. I doubt it would work for “activating” the product though – blackstrap molasses is best for that.

  23. OK< I just saw the directions above. Can I use some right away and at what dilution?

    1. haleynauta says:

      Hi Audrey, Phil’s out of the office until next week so I am responding on his behalf. The mother culture should be left to activate for 6-8 weeks as the directions above state. Also, if you have molasses on hand, it is preferred. You can really get a HUGE amount of product out of a mother culture though so it’s worth the wait! Happy activating 🙂

    2. Yes, you can use right away. I’ve put the dilution down below.

  24. Hey Phil,I was wondering about using this product on tomato plants. I saw on their website that they recommend not applying this to the buds on flowering plants. Would that be an issue spraying directly onto the tomato plants when they are flowering? Thanks.

    1. A potential issue is that the microbes will cause a bit of fermentation of the buds and flowers. I actually have never found this to be an issue, but apparently it is possible.

  25. Ellen Erickson says:

    Am gardening on community lot which has had either Septoria and /or bacterial leaf spot in the past. Are there expectations that EM might help prevent infection this year? Also I have used Serenade, Copper and very occasional Daconil in the past. Any recommendations how to apply EM around those preventatives, of course spreading out time of application as much as possible but since Daconyl lets say block pores on the leaf will it also prevent EM from acting?

    1. EM can definitely still do it’s thing to some degree. But you’re right, just try to spread out the applications as much as you can.

  26. Soapmaster says:

    I saw a video where you explain how to brew our own EM, but now I can’t seem to find the video. Also, where do I get a ‘mother culture’? I thought I could brew from a regular bottle of EM. Thank you for your help.

  27. Ellen Erickson says:

    Applied ready made EM with rest of the mix you suggest twice. Noted light yellow to the middle of the mostly top tomato leaves, transient period of time which resolved into deeper green. Overall plants look fabulous. Still am interesting does my anecdotal evidence means something….

    1. Cool, thanks for sharing Ellen.

  28. Ellen Erickson says:

    Can I use any of the products, especially EM for physiological leaf roll of tomatoes?

    1. Yes, you can use them all, especially EM, and many of them can help out in a situation like this. Also, as you probably know, physiological leaf roll is often exacerbated by improper watering or excessive physical damage to plants, so those are things to think about as well.

  29. Ellen Erickson says:

    My Ph is about 3.5 or so by lacmus paper after about 3 weeks. Two bottles were at room temps at times and at warm weather sun- covered in dark cloth. So sometimes they were nice and warm and sometimes just room temps. The smell mostly seems like apple cider vinegar but after bottle is open fore few minutes smell does get sweeter … should I keep it for while yet, or it is ok to start using…

  30. Linda DeStefano says:

    Hi, Smiling Gardener! My interest in the product is as a boost for my compost. My food scraps take years to turn into compost – probably because we have two large recycled plastic composters but only two people to feed them. I imagine we don’t have enough bulk to get the pile hot. Would the BioBalance act as a boost to warm up our food scraps so it wouldn’t take so long to get compost? I’m not interested in making compost tea or doing any other labor and time-consuming process. I mostly just want to have a beneficial use for our food scraps rather than put them in the garbage.

  31. Emily Sullivan says:

    What a generous soul you are! Thank you for all the info on your website – I’m looking forward to trying the ProBio, but I thought I should use the Plus – with the extra phototrophic, purple non-sulfur bacteria (PNSB). Is that all hype? Do you not sell it for a particular reason? I’d like to give you the business, so if you thing the original version is good, then I’ll order that instead of the plus.

    1. Hi Emily, good question – I don’t really know if it’s hype. I’ve used it before, but in the end I went back to using the Original because I feel it’s more tried and tested and in line with the original EM microbial balance. I’m very happy with it, but I can’t say for sure that the Plus wouldn’t have some specific uses.

  32. Hi Phil, thanks for all your efforts on this site as well as all the amazing products you have made available to us! I spent some time in the late winter researching gardening methodologies and products and decided to just dive in head first here 🙂 I’ve been using most of the products this season and the results are like nothing I’ve ever seen, even just 6 weeks after transplanting from indoors! I do have a couple of questions though. First, we’ve had a pretty wet Spring here in the upper Midwest. I’m feeding weekly at this point and I’m curious how (or if) you adjust when it rains heavily several times a week. I’m really interested in how this affects EM applications. Second, I’m reading your Building Soils Naturally book and I’m confused about the longevity of the EM mother culture. The way I read the book, you can only use it once or twice before the formulation of the various cultures is imbalanced and the mother culture becomes ineffective. However, on this site I read that it can be used repeatedly, and apparently reliably, for a couple of years. Would you please clarify?BTW… my new favorite thing in life is the fragrance and “electricity” in the air right after spraying EM 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing Brian.1. Personally, I don’t do anything to adjust for the rain. Some of the microbes and nutrients will get washed from the plants down onto the soil, which is fine, and some will remain there.2. The mother culture can be stored for a couple of years, and activated whenever you need it, but it can’t be used to activated a batch which is then used to activate another batch which is then used to activate another batch, and so on. I only activate from a mother culture, not from an already-activated culture. That’s what I mean in the book when I say you can only use it once or maybe twice. Make sense?

      1. Thanks for the reply! Yes, I see how I misread the yogurt analogy in the text now 🙂

      2. Oh, and a good tip for keeping EM warm while activating… I found an old heating pad (like for sore backs and etc) that has an analog off/low/med/high switch. Keeping it loosely tied around the bottle and set on low maintains the EM culture right in the 95-110 degree range. It took a little experimenting to get it tied in the correct position, and bottle shape/size will affect this, but I found the spot that kept mine at a consistent 98 degrees. NOTE: It seems that the newer heating pads have timers built in that automatically turn them off after a few hours, so those aren’t of much use for this purpose.

        1. Ya, that’s a great method.

  33. Tracey Loslo says:

    Re: “How much do you need”500ml per 1000 square feet is/was the rec’d rate, however after reveiwing research papers you noted that in agricultural applications that much less was used; often approx. 1 quart per 1000 square feet per year. Perhaps you meant the reverse? A US quart is 946 ml and an imperial quart is 1136 ml, both measures equaling a far higher vs lower application rate? Could you clarify :)? Many thanks.

    1. Per 1000 square feet, 500ml per MONTH is often recommend, but I found that 946ml per YEAR is often used in agricultural research.So that’s why I use 120ml per 1000 square feet 8 times throughout the year (8*120=960), rather than 500ml each time. Hope that makes sense.

  34. Hi Phil, I received my EM, sea minerals, and liquid kelp and have made one application to my garden. I recall reading that you believe it’s OK to mix these 3 into one spray. Is this correct ? If so, would you be willing to give me a per gallon recommendation for each. Thanks very much…the site is looking great !

  35. Σάββας says:

    Is it possible to make our own “DIY” EM? How?\

    1. No, EM has very specific strains of microorganisms and specific ratios between them, so must be made in a specialized lab.

  36. Phil, you wrote “Even though I drink about 1 Tbsp each day of either option 1 or 2 for preventative health (and especially if I feel any little sign of sickness coming on), I can’t promote it as a drink because it’s not technically food grade, so I have this food grade option available for you and it is very tasty.” Can you say what specifically about the first 2 products are not “food grade” and what is different about #3 besides the flavoring? Also, it mentions above that the products may contain yeasts. Can you state which products contain which yeasts? Do you know if they would be in anyway contraindicated to take internally if someone already has issues with candida overgrowth in their body. I have read for instance that S. Boullardi might be a problem for people with compromised immune systems although that reference may refer to someone having a very severe situation. It’s not exactly clear what constitutes a “compromised” immune system. Also, I’m wondering if the added juice might contain enough sugar that it might actually be problematic for someone dealing with an intestinal yeast overgrowth as it might possibly “feed” the candida? Thanks.

    1. Hi Neil, for the ‘food grade’, my understanding is that they don’t make it in a food grade facility. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I know their facilities are clean, so it doesn’t matter to me. But more important, I’ve just learned that the food grade one doesn’t contain the photosynthetic bacteria because they’re not recognized yet in the U.S. as being safe for human consumption (although they are in other countries and I consider them the most important species in the mix!). I may actually stop selling the food grade one soon.The yeast in all of the products is the common Saccharomyces cerevisiae. I expect some nutritionists/dieticians would advise against consuming it and some wouldn’t. Personally, I think advising against all yeasts and fungi for people with candida is a very limited viewpoint of the complexities of the human body. And as for these products, I believe they could be very helpful for a person with candida in their gastrointestinal system.The sugar isn’t a problem because it’s all consumed by the microbes. There’s almost no sugar left in the product.Hope that helps!

  37. Hi Phil,Just curious how the microorganisms would be affected, when using a hose end sprayer, and chlorine that is in tap water? I make worm compost tea, and have always thought that tap water is destructive to beneficial microbes, due to that being the common taught idea.

    1. Ya, I looked into this a lot when I first got into both EM and compost tea about 10 years ago. Too much chlorine is detrimental to the compost tea brewing process, and probably isn’t ideal for the microbes in EM, but according to my research, the latter seem to handle it okay. I’m not sure exactly why, but even the manufacturer says it’s not a big deal to use chlorinated water for EM activation, but when you look into the compost tea research, they advise against it. Same thing when it comes to application through the hose end sprayer – in theory it’s not ideal, but I really don’t worry about it at all.

  38. Robert Foster says:

    Hi Phil, I have “pro-bio” and sea minerals from last season. They’ve been mentally abandoned and perhaps suffering in a cool but not freezing partially heated entry. Do you think they will be healthy ?…and will I be able to activate them ? Like I say…they’ve not be submitted to freezing conditions…just sustained “cool” temperature. I’m hoping my neglect hasn’t murdered my “invisible friends” :).

    1. They should be okay. pH paper would tell you for sure with the ProBio Balance, but if it smells okay, it’s worth activating. The microbes will probably just be dormant, and activation will get them moving again.

  39. Gwendalyn says:

    Phil, thank you for the information and your positive enthusiasm. Ive been using EM-1 but will buy from you now that I know you sell it.Ive been making activated EM’s from your previous “pantry” site for years with amazing results. One example: One day needing an extra mattress quick, I bought a vinyl air mattress, really cheap, really nasty smelling. And I needed it the night I bought it so had no time for it to outgas. I blew it up and sprayed it with activated EM’s 3x (letting it dry in between sprays) and at the end it had absolutely no chemical smell! I had never seen anything like that.I also of course use it in my garden, drink it, spray the air in my house with it, use it to transform mold on leather, and even added it to my kombucha when it started to seem a little weird, every batch from then on was bright and tasty! I recently added it to a batch of beet kvass to see if the surface mold that so often forms is less, too soon to tell about that.I have two questions for you:Why do you use SCD instead of EM-1?The other question is a bit outside of this topic, its about EM’s ceramic powder. I have taken a 1/2 teaspoon of clay in water off and on for years. I was wondering if I put Super cera powder into the clay/water mixture if it would still be safe to drink. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Gwendalyn, I use SCD products instead of EM-1 just because they’ve been easier to get my hands on in the various places I’ve lived, and I find the company a little easier to work with. But both are great products – I don’t recommend one over the other.As for the super cera powder, I’m not sure if it would be safe to consume. All I know is that the material is quartz mullite powder. Sorry I can’t be of more help on that.

      1. Gwendalyn says:

        HI Phil,Thanks so much for the reply! Its very helpful to know what the super cera is, I’ll look into that furthercheers gwendalyn

    2. Gene @The California Table says:

      Phil, thanks for your generosity in responding to fully to readers’ questions; as I have commented before, I learn SO much from reading through the q/a after a post.
      I want to comment to Gwendalyn how brilliant to try spraying the activated EM on smelly plastic! I intend to try it on a nice carpet I”ve had for years sitting in its packaging in the garage; every time I get close to it, the smell makes me sigh and give up. Perhaps this fix will work on the carpet and I can actually use it:) Thanks to both of you!

  40. Ellen Erickson says:

    Is it ok to add both fish fertilizer and sea salt to activating EM mother culture? It seems to be not recommended for foliar sprays?

    1. It’s okay, but one time the guy who makes my sea minerals product found that it doesn’t work as well when combined with liquid fish, so I tend to spray them separately, alternating every month.

  41. Sorry, that link came out looking pretty garbled. If you Google BioAg you’ll see links to Monsanto. Please tell me it’s not the same BioAg! 😦

    1. It’s a very different BioAg indeed – I imagine it’s a fairly common 2 words to string together these days in the farming world.

  42. According to this website Monsanto has highjacked the name Bio Ag and created a very similar looking logo

    1. Yes, and the Bio Ag I sell is from yet another company.

  43. Linda Beer says:

    Hello Phil,I Activated EM with a class group. One of the students said her AEM grew mold on top. I advised her to pour it on the compost and we will remake a batch. I have been making AEM for 3 years and of 15 batches made with that class this is the only one that failed. Any Ideas?Linda

    1. Hi Linda, it’s fairly common to see a white scum on the surface, which is just the yeast. Even a red or purple scum is okay too. As long as the batch doesn’t smell bad, and the pH is below 3.8, it should be okay.But some of the most common reasons for failure are:-Inappropriate containers (previously containing chemicals, putrefied food, bad AEM batches)-Poor water quality-Not optimal temperature (too hot or too cold)-Using more molasses than EM or too much molasses in relation to water

  44. Barbara Powell says:

    Does the unsulphured blackstrap molasses come with the product, or is this something I have to seek out individually? I am particularly interested in this product for my 110 rose bushes.

    1. Excellent, your roses will thank you. You need to buy the molasses separately.

  45. walter brown says:

    I already have a quart of the EM-1 soil conditioner concentrate. Is this the one I can activate to make more

    1. Yes, that’s the one 🙂

  46. payday2222 says:

    Does anyone have any experience using em-1/lactic acid bacteria in beehives?

      1. payday2222 says:

        Protection against the Varoa-mite for bees (translated)Many years on the whole wide world we have a great problem by bee-keeping. Whole bee-colonies died about the varoa-mite. This mite came from Asia and is a parasite, wich harms the whole beecolony, especially the breed. The mite is sucking the beeblood … lymph … of the breed and leaks it. So it dies. Experiments with vaporising Oxalic Acid Tablets in Europe, the tablets are mixed also with EM Ceramics ™ powder and the effect will be more intensive and EM ™ solution showered at the bee hive the varoa mite has no chance to harm the bees. For drinking: EM ™ Solution 20 ml in 10 l water is powerfull for the bees. EM.1 ™ mixed in the food for the bees (water and sugar and EM.1 ™ mixed up) after harvesting the honey, is preventively for many infections of the bees: diarrhea, American Foulbrood, chalkbrood. In European countries we noticed, that the bees which were provided with EM ™ were more healthier than others without EM ™. Some beekeepers mix EM.1 ™ with water (1: 200) and sprays it against the bee – hive – inside and outside. So the bees get a strong immune system. Using EM.X GOLD ™ Ceramic powder in paint to help the hive to have a higher nuclear magnetic resonnance than the pests; also adding EM.X GOLD ™ at 1: 10,000 and EM.1 ™ or AEM ™ at 1: 1,000 to sugar water to strengthen the bees against diseases. It’s fine to work with EM Technology ™, because it is a pure biological system. http://www.em-pars.com

        1. payday2222 says:

          Beekeeping – The immunological system of honeybees is greatly improved with the use of EM.1.Dear Dr. Syd Ali,I am sorry for my late reply. I am now entering my fourth year using EM technology applied to my bee farm. There have not been any major innovations since I last communicated with you.I found out that EM.1 is not effective against a fungal disease affecting the intestinal tract of honeybees. The disease has two haplotypes (Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae). Regardless of how EM.1 is given, the sporulation curve grows unaffected. However, other bee diseases seem to be controlled like American and European foulbrood.The overall situation is that the immunological system of honeybees is greatly improved with the use of EM.1.Since my consumption volume of EM.1 is rather small, because I only have to take care of slightly over 1,000 hives, I found it economical to purchase the local version of EM.1. I wish I could buy it from you but the incidence of freight charges and import duties is not affordable in small volumes.Best regards,Martin Braunstein— Martin Braunstein, Bee Keeper

          1. Thanks for sharing!

          2. V J Deutsch says:

            where do I add my question to all those already at the bottom of the page, Phil?
            Sticking it in here as part of a reply to someone elses question is probably at most inefficient and at worst will go totally unnoticed.

            Here’s my question: I already bought your BioAg and the seaweed supplement. I’m looking for the/a chart of how to combine these two and in what proportion with water,
            I thought I saw a chart weeks ago with regard to this but now I can not find it on your sight!

            I don’t have a working computer at home and must use public computers at this time. So I have very little time to devote to getting info as I really need to focus on getting my garden up to speed. increasing yield and most importantly increasing nutritional content of my food crop. It is very late to be beginning to add your wonderful supplements and I want to get the proportions correct and benefit my struggling plants as best as I possibly can.
            To have a chart that I can print out rather than searching your website every time I begin to use a product would be so much more efficient and helpful! though even for you to point out where this chart is on your site would help enormously. Thank You

            Also, how much molasses ought I add to the BioAg and water combination to spray on my 400 Sq ft veggie garden.
            I found the info above with regard to BioAg and water but am uncertain if it would be best to add molasses to this combo as I see the BioAg already has molasses in it!?

          3. The calculator is here ( https://www.smilinggardener.com/sale/calculator/ ) and it will answer your questions. Yes, it’s good to add molasses to the Bio Ag. I dissolve the molasses in a little warm water first to help it go through the sprayer better.

  47. rebekah h says:

    Hi Phil I’ve really been enjoying reading the information on your site, I’ve learned a lot. My question is this, and I’m asking it because u did talk about a ‘mother culture’..ok I had made a batch of kombucha but then was unable to do another batch in time (altho for a while I kept adding ACV to it to try to keep it) I’ve realized now that there’s just been so much time that has passed with it sitting that it’s not going to be able to be used. I was curious tho as the scoby seems pretty thick and not too unhealthy looking, could I use it in my garden in some way? What are your thoughts on this?

    1. Hi Rebekah. Yes, I would chop the scoby up into pieces or put it through a blender, mix with at least 20 parts water or even more like 100 parts water in order to make it go further, and water my plants with it.

      1. rebekah h says:

        That’s awesome, so glad I can get get some use out of it still. Thanks Phil 🙂

  48. Biker Dude says:

    Is this a foliar feed or strictly on the soil?

    1. Good for the soil, too, but I use it mainly for foliar feeding.

  49. Jason Williams says:

    Phill, Just trying to get a complete understanding about everything, Whats the difference between the Pro Bio and the Pro Bio plus? Would it be better to purchase the Pro Bio plus to enhance the results? Also, I brew kombucha every month, just like the Pro bio it has a “mother culture” also, once low I just brew another batch using the same ” mother culture”. Would this be the same concept with using the Pro Bio mother culture? Or would I have to use some of the pro bio each time i make a batch?For Bokashi composting, Could I add pro bio on top and get the same results as the all season bokashi compost stater?Thanks

    1. The ProBio Plus is more for septic tanks. I use the ProBio Original for everything else.The balance of microorganisms changes with each activation, so you can’t keep activating it like you do with kombucha (I also brew kombucha and have had the same batch going for a couple of years, but it’s not the same with ProBio). It’s possible to do a second activation from a good first activation, but may not be as high quality, so I always activate from the mother culture.

  50. Jason Williams says:

    When starting beginning of activating the mother culture, how to activate it with the fish, seaweed, salt mineral, and rock dust?

  51. Mangesh Surve says:

    Hello there !!Greetings from Envicare Technologies Pvt Ltd., Pune, INDIA.We are into waste water treatment plants from last 15 years.Can this (EM) solution use for improving the condition of biological treatment like – ASP ( Activated Sludge Process) and MBBR (Moving Bed Bio Reactor) , Anaerobic , Anoxic STP’s OR Can we use this for commissioning of the plants?? If yes we are interested in procuring this solution, please send us more details on my email id as – director@envicaresystems.com.Waiting for your reply on Urgent basis.

  52. Mark Renda says:

    Is it okay to use mix the EM with hard water?

  53. Mark Renda says:

    Can I mix EM with hard water?

    1. Yes, no problem Mark. I’ve made a lot of EM with hard water.

  54. Bill Maki says:

    I have mixed up some EM to treat my soil as part of the spring prep before planting. I have a one-half acre garden that I intend to plant in corn. I am leaning towards an ATV mounted sprayer which is 14 gallons, uses a 12 volt Sureflo pump, and currently has a 100 mesh strainer and three 80-03 spray tips. Are the spray tips proper for applying EM and will it go through the 100 mesh strainers OK? Any other concerns or recommendations you have? Many thanks.

    1. Hi Bill, looks like you’re in good shape. For compost tea, they say a 400 mesh filter is sufficient to let through the delicate fungi and bigger microorganisms. You’re 4 times bigger than that with your 100 mesh, so nothing to worry about, and there aren’t any fungi (other than yeast) or bigger microorganisms in EM, so you’re good. The spray tip is fine, too. If you have control over the pressure, 60 PSI is ideal.

  55. Ligia Belli says:

    Hello Phil, I am from Managua, Nicaragua, Central America, and a constant reader of your site. We live in a small farm where we have been working as organically as possible since 2009. Have some cows for dairy products, a vermiculture project and we are growing vegetables with the biointensive method of John Jeavons since 2013. In 2011 I received a course to make Effective Microorganism from scratch. Going into virgin places of the woods and collect them under the rotting leaves. Then with molasses, whey and a source of CHO and water, we make a solid mother, and from this we make another (several) batches of the activated ones, and use it in several activities on the farm, plants, soil, animal, buildings, worms and compost. I always check the pH, for us is three parameters: color, smell and pH. How those this sounds to you? Would like hear your input.I wonder if I can manage to get some of your mother cultures to Nicaragua. Any advice?

  56. I raise orchids. Can I mist them with the EM? I also make vermacompost tea but have not used it on orchids. In nature I think they get very little microorganism but I could be wrong about that. Most orchid growers preach fertilize weekly and weakly.

    1. I suspect microorganisms are just as important for orchids and anything else. Just don’t spray the flowers directly.

  57. Anna @GreenTalk says:

    I have an issue with early blight rust and powdery mildew since I have an irrigation system. I might have had wilt as well with my tomatoes. I grow organically. Will your product stop this fungus and bacteria?Also should I spray the beds now in the fall before I crooked cover for next spring. I am zone 6.Lastly, my grass is low phosphorus. All other nutrients are good. We have mostly clay soil. Lots of dandelion thistle and other taproot in the grass. Will spraying in the fall and overfeeding help release the phosphorus locked up in the soil? I have grass. You wouldn’t know there is an issue except I did soil testing.

    1. EM can be very helpful with these diseases if applied regularly. It can’t be sold to ‘stop’ disease because it’s not a pesticide, but it can improve plant health to the point where disease doesn’t cause problems. Yes, I would definitely spray this fall.EM isn’t particularly known for releasing phosphorus. It may play a role, but mycorrhizal fungi ( http://www.smilinggardener.com/sale/mycorrhizae-for-sale/ ) is more adept at that. Soft rock phosphate and fish bone meal are good sources of phosphorus (note: they will slowly become available over the several years following application).

  58. Hi Phil,I saw the lady on You Tube talked about EM for drinking everyday. Do you think you can make it from “Mother Culture” for drinking? If you can, how do you make it? Thank you very much.

  59. Foothill Billy says:

    Hi, so you say the ph of the scd bio ag is around 3.7 or something low like that. I water my garden around 6.2-6.5ph. My water comes out at 8.7ph and then I lower it with ph down from advanced nutrients. I know these ph up and down chemicals can kill living microbes and bacteria, so my questions are 1, can I adjust the ph of my water to 6.3ph and then add the scd bio ag at a tablespoon per gallon and if the ph is still in the 6.2-6.5ph range, feed it to my garden? Or do I need to adjust the ph of my water down to what the scd bio ag is around 3.7ph, and then add the scd bio ag and water my garden with a liquid mix at such a low ph? Wouldnt that potentially harm the ph balance of my soil and shock the plants? Also, if I can balance out my water to 6.3ph, then add the sce bio ag, and if it brings the ph down too far past my ideal range, if I add ph up to the mix, will that kill a bunch of the EM’s? I can dilute the ph up or down chemicals with alot of water before adding to the tank if that would not kill soo much of the living EM’s? You know what I mean? Whats the best way to apply this stuff without harming the scd bio ag’s benefits and not shocking my garden with a mix of very low ph liquid? Thank you for any info!!

  60. Christine Grenke says:

    Hi Phil,My name is Christine, and I wanted to tell you that i had just recently found you online, and I was so inspired by your incredible, Earth Healing Organic knowledge that I sighed up, and am currently enrolled in the OMG here in Toronto!I want to THANK YOU because I love it so much!!! 🙂 I feel so empowered by everything I’m learning, and feel so good that i will get to pass this knowledge down to my children. It has given me a very precious gift; a beautiful and powerful vision that we can heal the Earth, one garden at a time! :)Anyway, I am now doing my Bokashi composting assignment and of course my research would take me to your wonderful pages. I wanted to tell you that I am very disappointed that you do not sell to Canadians!!!!!I would like so much to buy the ProBio Balance mother tincture etc. etc. for my garden that so deeply needs it, and i think I might need to drink some of this stuff too. And I am also saddened that I will be excluded from the free online EM and bokashi courses that I am sure will be amazing and that I need right now too. Boo hoo:(Please, please, please, reconsider! :)Thank you!:)

  61. Christine Grenke says:

    Ahhhh. I didn’t mean to post my last name! I don’t really post ever! ugh.Sorry 😛

  62. Aspiring Permie says:

    I want to inoculate my soil to encourage nitrogen fixing. Does EM or one of your other products do that? In addition to legumes, I’m growing a variety of perennial nitrogen fixers such as peashrub, false indigo, golden chain tree, and eleagnus.

    1. EM can do a little bit of nitrogen fixing, but what you really want is to buy legume inoculant for your plants. You may also see if you can find azospirillum or azotobacter inoculants. They are nitrogen-fixing bacteria that don’t need a legume host. I haven’t kept up on the research as to what’s available in that realm, though, or how effective those inoculants are.

  63. I’ve got 13 raised garden beds that are about 3 1/2 x 10 …the nutrients have been depleted over the years and I’ve added compost two years in a row. I have purchased Boi-ag and Neptunes Seaweed. How much should I use and how often? I also purchased the Chameleon end hose sprayer to use with some adr. Runners Sals Suds and Neem oil for a pesticide.

    1. Thank you kindly, that was very helpful. Have you ever tried putting equal amounts of Br Bronners Sal’s Suds in with the neem oil as a natural emulsifier so it goes through the sprayer better?

  64. Hi can I use this product on my tropical fruit trees and my soil ph 8 ?

  65. AdkGirl4Ever says:

    Hi, I purchased the Bio-Ag and Neptunes Seaweed. I have 13 raised beds that are about 3 1/2 x 12 and the soil has been depleted over the years. I’ve added compost but the plants are still stunted and not producing. Going to test the soil but how much should I put in my Chameleon hose end sprayer and what do I set it on? I am new to this.

    1. If you mean 3.5×12 feet times 13 beds, then you have a total of 550 square feet, so I would put 1/4 cup of Bio Ag and 1/4 cup of Seaweed into the sprayer, set it to spray 1 Tbsp per gallon of water, and spray away.

      1. I just applied some lime a couple days ago…how long should I wait to apply the Bio-Ag, Seaweed and Molasses?

        1. No need to wait, Shari.

  66. Patricia Royster says:

    I m in North Carolina and our last frost date is April 15th. Just getting my garden ready and read all of your instructions for using BioAg and then read the directions on the bottle. It says do not use if pH is above 3.9. Our soil pH averages 5.5-7. Should I dilute it more or not use it at all? Thanks for your help!

    1. They’re referring to the pH of the product itself. As long as you use it within the next couple of years, the pH will be below 3.9, so you’re good to go.

  67. Have you ever tried putting equal amounts of Dr Bronners Sal’s Suds in with the neem oil or Bio-Ag with Molasses and Seaweed as a natural emulsifier so it goes through the sprayer better?

    1. Yes. Dr Bronners with neem oil every time, and molasses with Bio Ag every time (but not Dr Bronners with Bio Ag because I don’t want to smother the microbes).

  68. Ready to order Bio Ag Probiotic – already activated. Considering purchasing several quarts instead of gallon so the entire culture will not be exposed before I plan to use it. Is this a good idea?

    1. Good question, Susan. I wouldn’t worry about it too much. If you were hoping to keep it good for several years beyond the expiry date, it may make sense, but as long as you use it within the next 2-3 years, you should be fine.

  69. Which of your products would be best to use to improve the health of our lawn?

    1. There’s no one right answer for this. It partially depends on what your lawn is deficient in. Most important is to water sufficiently throughout the summer, mow high, and leave the grass clippings to decompose on the lawn. After that, effective microorganisms can be very helpful, as can mycorrhizal fungi, as can sea minerals fertilizer and liquid fish fertilizer.

  70. I would like to try this. Will this kill Monarch butterflies larva or Monarch caterpillars?

    1. I should have specified that I plan to use it on milkweed plants.

    2. Definitely not. Go for it!

  71. Hi–I’m wondering where I might find a list of the specific species that are in EM? Thank you.

    1. I included that in the article above under the ‘About SCD Probiotics ProBio Balance’ section.

  72. I bought the mother culture a year ago, and I didn’t either ever know how to utilize the further detailed instructions, or never got them. What can you tell me about how to get them?

  73. sunny gorg says:

    hi, i’m wondering if EM can be used to treat black mold in my home? i would appreciate a swift reply as i live in peru and am having a friend bring some things down for me from the US, so the EM would need to ship soon. thanks!

    1. Sometimes with repeated applications it can help, but sometimes not. Sorry I can’t give a better answer. If you do try it, spray the mold every few days with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of EM per quart of water.

  74. Can BioAg be used to create Bokashi grains in use of a Bokashi composter?

    1. Yes, it’s used the same as EM for this purpose.

      1. Hi Phil,
        This is fascinating! I do bokashi composting using the bokashi flakes: for every 1″ layer of food scraps, I top with 2 tbsp flakes. If I used the EM instead, how much would I use?

        1. I have often wondered the same thing. When I purchased my Bokashi “system”, it came with a spray bottle of “Compost Activator” that was to be sprayed on the new layer of food each time before the bucket was closed & sealed. When I looked up the contents of the “Compost Activator” it listed them as 1% Active Ingredients (Fermented fruit-extract), 96% Water, and 3% Molasses.

          When I make Bokashi Bran, is use 2 Tbsp BioAg, 2 Tbsp of Molasses, 5 Cups of water, and 5# of Bran. This mixture works really good, but the downside it that it takes 2 weeks in a sealed container to ferment, and then time to dry before storing. The drying time is especially difficult with our humid weather.

          Sometimes I forget to make some more bran before I run out, and wonder if I can mix some BioAg, Molasses and Water to spray on the food scraps until I get more bran made?

          1. EM doesn’t replace bokashi – you need the dry bokashi to soak up some of the moisture from the food scraps and the carbon of the bokashi to balance out the nitrogen of the food scraps.

            But yes, you can certainly spray EM in the meantime to help a little with the breakdown of the food and for odor control. A 1:1:100 ratio would probably be about right, which is just 1/4 teaspoon of EM and 1/4 teaspoon of molasses per 1/2 cup of water.

  75. Stephanie Newman says:

    I purchased the Beginners Package. Applied once. Now three weeks later, garden tower plants are big, strong…and today I noticed a little bug with wings that’s eating hole in my gorgeous pak choy and kale.

    1. Should I add the BioAg and liquid seaweed once a month 1tbsp/1 gallon of each?

    2. Spray that mixture on leaves and add some to soil at base of each plant? I’m using a turkey baster to deliver water to base of plants and a spray bottle if you say to spray all the leaves topside/underside.

    3. Time to add Intermediate ingredients?

    I LOVE my daily breakfast salad!!!

    Thank you!

    1. 1. I tend to think about it more in terms of square footage, and I tend to use 1/2 cup of each per 1000 square feet (1 Tbsp per 100 square feet). But yes, 1Tbsp/gallon is good for EM and seaweed, although you can do as many as 5 Tbsp per gallon with the seaweed.

      2. Yes, that’s all good.

      3. Certainly would be great, but for things you harvest regularly like lettuce and greens, you might want to not use the smelly fish. Just stick with the other products in that case.

  76. Hi Phil,

    About a week into fermenting our first EM culture — it has what looks like some whitish bacterial growth on the top. Is that normal, and if not, can it still be used? The PH is still acid — comes out yellow on my PH paper.

    1. That’s just the yeast, which is part of the EM. No problem at all.

  77. How can I get hold of the Probiotics and your other products in Australia?

  78. Brian Stewart says:

    Hi Phil, I recently bought the EM above. It says on the bottle i need to make sure ph is no higher than 3.9-3.7. Does that mean the entire mixture with water added or just the EM? And how do i adjust the ph safely for an organic garden?


  79. James Westerman says:

    Just received my EM order even with the xmas postal rush it showed up promptly! I have some great uses in store for it, several years ago i applied some Grazon tainted alfalfa hay as mulch, I had no idea it was from another state and not local so be careful if you do not know your where your alfalfa or straw you are going to use as mulch originated i wouldn’t use it, this stuff is death for soil for many years, I am going to try and recondition the soil with an application of EM among other organic materials after 10 years, i had to abandon my original garden plot of many years….

    1. Thanks for sharing, James. Feel free to apply the EM at least monthly.

  80. Im gonna get the EM-1 an use it for foliar feeds do i have to get a wetting as well so the plants cant take it through leaves?
    Personal Question; Have you or do u know anyone who has used these products on marijuana plants, if so what was the results?

    1. It’s often mixed with molasses during application, both to feed the microbes and help it stick to the leaves… Sorry, I don’t have any data on how it has worked with marijuana.

  81. dr sunil deshmukh says:

    so much of information here awesome …in india maple sells em1 …there are varieties here like hariyali environ …no much information available here .in india organic molasses are tough to find yes organic jaggery is plenty here. so i tried with it . regarding foliar spray confusion persists i dissolved activated em1 5ml in 500ml chlorine free water and sprayed on rose plant in morning evening the plant leaves turned yellowish some leaves died .put the same spray on mint plant nothing happened . checked ph it was around 3 . yet could not make it out what dosage is better.

    1. 1:250 is safer, which is 5ml in 1250ml water.

  82. Will EM help reduce Powdery Mildew on plants?

  83. Once the ferment is ready at 6-8 weeks, do I then need to store it in the refrigerator? Also, when making the ferment, if I leave it out at room temperature, do I still need to open it up daily to let the gases escape? Also, how often should this be applied? Weekly, Monthly?

    1. It’s stored at room temperature. It doesn’t usually need to be burped anymore once it’s at room temperature. It can be applied weekly or monthly – you just use less when you apply it weekly. Weekly is great, but I tend to just do monthly.

  84. Anybody experimented using AEM in the tray media when growing edible sunflower sprouts?

  85. Steven Klockow says:

    We live in Maine. Our home has had a mold problem that we are working to remediate. One of the identified molds is Aspergillus/Penicillium. We have probably 50-60 clay potted plants in our home, many with a sort of white chalky haze on them that I suspect is mold. The mold assessor said it’s not only the pots but what is in the soil. I’m assuming that the PRO-BIO Balance is most similar to EM1. I’m wondering if I were to spray the PRO-BIO on the clay pots and on the soil if it would eat the mold or protect it from growing mold again if I cleaned them first. Any experience with the product addressing mold issues?

    1. Yes, sometimes it can be helpful, especially if you’re able to spray weekly. It will still be worth it to wipe down the pots first, but then spray away and also water the soil with it. The Bio Ag may be better for your situation if you just want to mix and spray. On top of that, good compost can be helpful with molds, so if you can find good compost, topdressing the soil with that would be a good idea.

  86. Any experience with “Microp”? It is an algae that is marketed as a green manure (nitrogen fixing) that can be used simultaneously with growing vegetables. I am interested in it because of claims it will help with soil texture (I have sandy but very fine soil that is easily compacted).

    Would bio ag help with soil tilth? I am looking for a more efficient option than always bringing in tons of compost!

    1. I’m not aware of Microp. Bio Ag can help with soil tilth, but of course organic matter and nutrient balance are at least as important.

  87. One more question… I am looking to make a liquid concentrate with kelp, humates and micronutrients (the micros are quite dilute, under 0.1% each) as an all-purpose soil and foliar tonic. This is to share at my community garden, so I want to prefix stuff, to keep it simple (so that people will actually use it!). Will Bio Ag work pre-mixed with all this stuff (for several months at a time)? I am thinking the humates and micros might be fine, but the kelp could ferment and cause problems. What do you think?

    1. Ya, the Bio Ag and kelp won’t do well diluted for a long time. You’d be much better off with an ocean water product like Sea-Crop.

      1. Great, Thanks! But kelp and bio/EM can be mixed at the time of application, correct (in watering can, sprayer, etc.)?

  88. I plan on using Bio Ag on our strawberry plants. Should I avoid spraying them when they are in blossom?

    1. Yes, occasionally that’s a problem, so definitely worth avoiding.

  89. Gemma Watson says:

    My sprayer machine is 10 liter. So what will be ideal dilution? 10ml for 10-liter water? Same for soil application?

    1. I use a 1:250 ratio, so 40ml per 10 liters of water. That said, 1:500 is a little safer for sensitive plants, which would be 20ml per 10 liters of water.

  90. Glenn Gross says:

    I am a first time customer of your Bio Ag Probiotic product and am growing mostly vegetables and herbs and reading you suggestions it says to use a 1-1000 rate as a spray to inoculates the soil. I have a two gallon sprayer which would work but am unsure of the amount to mix in a gallon of water. I figured a teaspoon and a half would be correct. My plants are close in a raised bed and I could spray the soil as well the plants but dont read anything about that. I read it is best to use the product morning or evening. Also at this rate how often should I repeat the application?

    1. I do more like a 1:250 ratio, but indeed, to be extra safe, 1:1000 is often suggested because there is a slight chance of burning some plants (especially flowers in bloom) at the 1:250 ratio. So per gallon of water, a 1:1000 ratio is 3/4 teaspoon of product (a 1:250 ratio is more like 1 Tablespoon). You can spray plants and soil with either of these ratios. I do once a month at 1:250 and more like once a week at 1:1000.

  91. I have some family members who have applied yard chemicals to their lawns. I’m wondering how long it takes for these chemicals to be removed from the soil after applying ProBio Balance original mother culture concentrate?

    1. I wish I could tell you, Leanne. It’s true that microorganisms can help break down toxins, but as to which organisms break down which toxins and how long it takes, that probably depends on a number of factors.

  92. I was wondering if this product will work in my little keyhole garden experiment. My husband disagree a lot – so the keyhole we’ve started was no different. We split it in half and are doing are own things. He started corn and squash and such from seeds. He notices stuff looked yellowish compared to my super green healthy looking tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, etc. that i bought already seeded. He immediately went out and sprinkled chemical fertilizer on his. Now his side is looking lovely and mine is languishing. All blooms feel off tomatoes, yellow looking leaves, something ate the eggplant blossoms. Some kind of fungus looking thing was growing out there a few weeks ago now gone. So….I”m not putting chemicals on mine. Do you think this product will help my little side of the keyhole garden? Thought I’d just try the 12 oz already activated and see if it works. We used cardboard, newspaper, brown sticks and leaves, awesome compost we had made and topped it all with a good top soil from our local garden shop. Feeding and watering through a compost basket in the middle.

    1. With that cardboard, newspaper, brown sticks and leaves, compost, topsoil mixture, it’s not surprising that the plants are struggling. It may be a good mixture, but sometimes the first season doesn’t work out great in a mixture like that. Next year could improve. Anyway, yes, this product could very well help. It sounds like it may be a bit late in the season to turn things around, but it’s possible. I would try it, spraying at least monthly, and then you’ll have plenty left for next year, too. And I would mix it with sea minerals fertilizer or liquid seaweed.

  93. Jacquie Winters says:

    Great. Thanks for quick response. We will probably rebuild the keyhole next year. We did about 3 ft of the stuff I described as is suggested for keyhole gardening. Why did you say its no wonder the plants aren’t doing well. What would you suggest for next year then, that we didn’t do this year. We were short on green clippings and didn’t have any manure to use, that is all I can think of that we missed. I will do an order and start spraying and hopefully convince my husband that organic gardening is not that difficult.

    1. It’s good what you did because it will make for some good soil in future years, but it just needs time to break down in order to become a better growing medium.

  94. john rayburn says:

    would prebiotic like inulin or acacia be beneficial with ur product?? been gardening for 30 yrs but have been missing the boat

    1. Good question, John. I haven’t seen any talk of that but it makes a lot of sense to me.

  95. I plan on using this in my garden, but have you heard of anyone using this for their beehives? We have 10 hives, lost 6 last year due to pests. Bee supply stores sell probiotics and things for bees, but I’m wondering if this one would be even better than those!

    1. Yes, definitely. I don’t know the ratios, but search around online and you will find people talking about it.

  96. Hassane Makhlouf says:

    Hello Phil, I want to ask you if the Probio balance has exactly the same microbial composition as the EM1 and if it is doing the same job. We are using EM-1 in food waste composting for odor control and for the enhancement of compost quality. So do you think that we can get the same results with Probio balance one activated?
    Also if do you have any information about using EM to improve methane production in biodigester.
    Thank you

    1. EM1 and ProBio Balance use slightly different species, but they’re both based on Dr. Higa’s teachings and I use them interchangeably.

      (Sorry, no info on methane production.)

  97. I found this very easy to make, using the mother culture. My question is — can I use it more than once a month?

    It’s so inexpensive (and effective, as I am finding) that it seems worthwhile to use every time I water. It does not seem like you can overdose on this stuff, but I though I should ask.

  98. Vivia Sharp says:

    Hi Phil,
    Yesterday I told my friend from Germany that we had such a humid year here in Virginia US that I could see my alfalfa/grass mix hay molding in front of my own eyes – never touched by one drop of rain! She gave me the idea to spray the hay bales with EM and said they would look like new afterwards! I can’t remember how many $10 bales landed on our compost pile this year, hay which was delivered in perfect condition. Can Bio Ag (activated) be used in this manner? Will it be safe for my sheep to eat the hay after being treated? How much should I dilute the product if at all? Should I spray the hay even before any mold is visible?

    Thanks so much. I hope this product is my future hay saver!


    1. Can Bio Ag (activated) be used in this manner? Absolutely, it could be very helpful.

      Will it be safe for my sheep to eat the hay after being treated? Yes, it will be better for them.

      How much should I dilute the product if at all? I would dilute it 1:250, which is 1 Tbsp per gallon of water.

      Should I spray the hay even before any mold is visible? Yes, spray early and if possible, regularly (like monthly).

  99. Marie McLean says:

    Hi Phil,
    Just doing a clean up after a flood has gone through my property. So far questions about possible contamination from faeces contamination including sewerage. What would be the quickest and most effective means of getting the EM on to begin the cleaning up process please.
    I have unopened EM. I have had a 1 foot build up along the eastern fence line of debris and much standing water and mud which is starting to smell. I would like to spray now and also have molasses but no brew prepared. Like to start turning it around and will probably head away for a few days while it drys out and get safer to handle…compromised immune system. Thanks for any advice I really appreciate it.
    Regards Marie

  100. Lynne DiTullio says:

    I will be starting with the BioAg EM in my yard. To start, I plan to use it in my chicken run, where I use the deep litter method (lots of leaves right now!). The EM should help the composting process, I hope. Also, I have the Hudson hose end sprayer.
    I used your application calculator, and as far as I can tell, I use 2 tbsp in the sprayer container, set the dial to 1 tbsp, and turn the hose on to spray the area. That is, there is no need to add any water to the sprayer container before starting to spray?
    Thank you!

    1. That’s correct, except that it’s hard for the sprayer to pull only 2 tbsp out, so I often do mix with water to make it work better. And then I may decrease the spray ratio somewhat.

  101. Mary Dayton says:

    Help!! I have gardened organically for the past 50 years. I use leaf, grass, hay, wood chips and straw mulch in NW Montana. I dry, can and freeze all kinds of goodies for my children’s families. I add all kinds of natural additives into my soil, like rock dust and micro-minerals I make lasagna beds in my garden using horse manure and straw. Yet, I have an invasion of Horsetail weed. It comes up in my lasagna beds, compost pile . . . and I keep reading that it doesn’t like futile soil. What am I doing wrong? Am I missing some micro nutrient or enzyme? I use chicken manure tea. Would EM help knock them back?

    1. Horsetail is nearly impossible to get rid of. The cool thing is that it’s actually a highly prized plant in the biodynamic world, good for making an organic fungicide, among other things. It tends to favor wet soils, but as I say, you can hardly get rid of it. That said, it shouldn’t have a negative impact on your garden anyway.

  102. Hi Phil,
    How can I tell if my mother culture is still viable?

    1. Measure the pH. Needs to be less than 3.7. I sell pH paper in the correct range on this page, or you can use a properly-calibrated pH meter.

  103. Parmanand says:

    Hi Phil,
    Thank you for the helpful information. I am currently dealing with a whitefly infestation, and after reading a few of your articles I came to realize that if I can improve the soil quality of my plants, that should go a long way in keeping my plants healthy and “pest” free. I came across your recommendation for this product but wanted to reach out and determine if you know whether this product is vegan or not? The reason I ask is that the plants (Tulsi or holy basil) have religious significance and I cannot use products that may be based on animal droppings, eggs, animal fats or by-products, etc. with the exception of milk. Any information you can provide is really appreciated! Thanks in advance.

    1. Yes, definitely vegan – and non-gmo. The ingredients are purified and structured water, various bacteria and yeast cultures, organic sugar cane molasses, mineral powder, sea salt, and rice bran liquid extract.

  104. I wish to use the Bio Ag as a probiotic for human use. I have been using it in that capacity straight from the bottle. Should I be diluting it with water or this is ONLY for application for gardening?

    1. Personally, I use it as a probiotic for myself, 1 tsp per day straight from the bottle, but I can’t suggest that to other people because it’s not made in a food-grade facility. So technically, it’s not for humans.

  105. Robert Garten says:

    Will tap water containing chlorine kill the micro organisms in the soil?? What can be done if one doesn’t have rain water or frequent rains.

    1. Nick Kennedy says:

      Chlorinated water is BAD NEWS! I haven’t drank it or used it without filtering it out in about 30 years. I have been using RESTRUCTURED (living) water for about 20 years. I am vegan myself and don’t use any animal products in my garden. Everything gets recycled here. Once your soil/plants are healthy the pests will disappear. They only attack unhealthy plants.
      The same as lower vibrational people (the majority) get sick.

      1. Robert Garten says:

        So what does one do to water a garden when there are long periods with no rain?

  106. Larry Hansford says:

    What is the shelf life of the Activated Bio Ag once the bottle has been opened? Will it remain live & active throughout the gardening season?

    1. Yes it will. Apparently, it’s most powerful in the first 6 months, but the bottle usually has an expiry date that’s much later than that.

  107. Larry Hansford says:

    Today I transplanted pepper & tomato seedlings into the gardens. Prior to planting them, I made a mixture of 1 Tbsp of BioAg, 2 Tbsp of fish emulsion, and 1 Tbsp of molasses in a shallow bucket with 1 gallon of water, and then soaked the plant roots in the mixture. After pulling the plants out of the liquid, I rubbed mycorrhizae powder directly on the roots just before planting them deeply in their hole. After they were all planted, I added an equal amount of water to the bucket and used it to water in the new plants. Can’t wait to see how these plants respond to their TLC.

    1. Sounds great, Larry! Hopefully you can spray the BioAg/fish/molasses monthly as well.

      1. That is my plan, Phil, but I have to save up my pennies to buy a new 2-gallon tank sprayer since most of the gardens are beyond the reach of the water hose. Any recommendations on the best, or most affordable, tank sprayers?

          1. Thanks! That page is good reading, too! I found a Chapin 1949 sprayer for a good price on-line with free shipping, so I have one on order. It is time to start getting the EM on the plants, since the tomatoes & peppers are already starting to bloom.

    2. Soaking the peppers & tomatoes in the solution of BioAg, fish emulsion, and molasses really gave the young plants a kick start for growth. Just a month later, and all of the plants already have fruit on them. Picked the first 2 banana peppers today, and had them in the dinner salad. All of the tomato plants have young tomatoes on them, but it will be a while before they start ripening. This weekend they will have their second spraying of the BioAg with Fish Emulsion, too.

  108. Hi Phil, how does the Bio Ag compare with their other mother culture products like PROBIO BALANCE ORIGINAL and PROBIO BALANCE PLUS?

    1. Best is just to read this page, especially the section “Which One Should You Choose?”

      1. Robert Garten says:

        I’ve looked at several articles and Youtube videos evaluating whether compost tea is any better than just applying compost to plants. Several of the studies do good comparisons (water half the plants with water and half with compost tea) and find that compost tea is no better than water. Other information shows that compost tea has no more nutrients than compost nor is the micro organism level any higher than applying compost. Also application of foliar compost tea puts E. Coli and Salmonella and possibly other harmful micro organisms on vegetables and these could harm us when we consume them. The bottom line of most of the information is that making compost tea is a long process requiring equipment that must be purchased and offers little benefit over just applying compost around plants and watering them. The other bottom line seems to be that foliar application of compost tea is dangerous.
        Other articles and videos show that applications of compost tea have real benefits.
        Can you comment please because it’s pretty confusing.

        1. Some interesting thoughts there, Robert. I never thought of compost tea as being any “better” than compost, but just a means of applying the benefits of compost to a much greater area. Compost Tea cannot have any more types of microbes than the compost from which it was made, so if the compost does not have E.coli or salmonella, nor will the compost tea. So, I never worried about that. The primary benefits of applying compost is that it not only provides the microbes to the soil, but it also adds organic material to the soil. I also use compost as mulch to help retain moisture in the soil. The primary reason I spray compost tea is that it applies the microbes directly to the leaves, both top and bottom of the leaves. For me, the benefits of spraying compost tea on the plants has been the elimination of powdery mildew, and great reduction of pests such as aphids. I made a 30-gallon airlift compost tea brewer using a free tank (old water softener brine tank) and less than $20 of PVC pipe. The most expensive part was the $30 air pump, but it allows me to make a lot of compost tea in 24 hours once a month. It is easy to tell of the compost tea is bad – it will smell really foul – or good – it will smell sweet. If it smells sweet, I feel very confident in applying it to my gardens.

          I am sure Phil will have a lot better answers than I do, but that is just from my experience. This year, thanks to Phil’s guidance, I am applying EM on the 15th of each month, and compost tea on the end of each month. So, the plants are getting a double dose of microbes. Part of my belief in feeding the soil, not the plants.

        2. It is confusing. I encourage you to read Dr. Elaine Ingham’s “Compost Tea Brewing Manual” to get a more thorough picture of compost tea and to join this free online group ( https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/compost_tea/info ) to read past posts of experienced tea brewers. The bottom line is that it does take work to make good tea, but good tea can be very helpful provided your soil and/or plants are deficient in these microorganisms.

  109. Jon C. Fox says:

    On another site (www.teraganix.com/Activated-EM1-s/261.htm) it says that after the activated EM has reached the target pH (gone below 3.8), you should let it rest for 5-7 days before using it. Do you agree with that? Isn’t it ready to use as soon as it drops in pH?

    Thanks very much for your help and attention.

    1. Hmmm, I don’t recall ever seeing this before. I’m not sure the reasoning. It probably has some benefit but if I’m ready to use it, I want to use it as soon as possible!

  110. Kelly McMillan says:

    On the bottle of Bio Ag, it states that not to use the product unless the PH is less that 3.9 or below. Is that talking about the garden soil or the product? It is unclear on the bottle instructions.

    1. Good question. It’s referring to the bottle. Soil doesn’t ever have a pH that low.

  111. There appears to be an unintended consequence to regular application of EM and Compost Tea to my raised beds. This year, for the first time, I have doing monthly application of compost tea which I make with a home made 30-gallon compost tea brewer, a “Microbulator” design, and bi-weekly of Bio-Ag alternated with Sea Minerals or fish fertilizer. This has been a highly successful regiment has resulted in the most productive vegetables we have ever had, and we have had virtually no problems with pests or diseases. The advice received here on the use of the sprays has proven to work even better than expected.

    However, it appears that the unintended consequence is that all of the microbes applied with the Bio-Ag and Compost Tea are digesting the organic matter in the soil at a very high rate. During this summer’s gardening season all of the raised beds soil has dropped 3″ to 4″. My raised bed have a very high organic matter (OM) content, with a lot of the soil being compost. Apparently, the compost is being digested by the microbes and fed to the plants, which would explain why our tomatoes are 10′ tall, and our pepper plants are just under 4′ tall – and the amount of produce on the plants is amazing. Fortunately, I produce a lot of compost and the beds will be re-filled when the plants are done producing. I never pull the plants out, I just cut them off at ground level and let the microbes and earthworms digest the roots over the winter while the cover crop is keeping them active.

    1. Thanks for sharing. I’ve always heard that could happen in theory, and you’ve proven it!

  112. Stephanie says:

    Hi Phil,
    I was wondering what kinds of specific microorganisms are in the Bio Ag? Like mycorrhizae or any other specific types of bacteria?

    1. There are mostly bacteria, plus yeast:

      Lactic Acid Bacteria: Bifidobacterium animalis, B. bifidum, B. longum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. casei, L. delbrueckii subsp bulgaricus, L. fermentum, L. plantarum, Lactococcus lactis subsp lactis, Streptococcus thermophilus

      Yeast and other: Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Bacillus subtilis

      Phototrophic Bacteria: Rhodopseudomonas palustris and R. sphaeroides

  113. I may have missed this info in the previous questions, as I didn’t read all of them.
    Is it possible to buy this product in Australia, Please?

  114. I’m interested in the probio balance 1 quart but I’m curious what the shelf life is for the probio balance?

    Once you make more from it what’s the shelf life on that?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Claudio, it’s about 2 years, although I often use it for 3 years. The shelf life on an activation depends on the quality of the activation. It’s more like 2-6 months for most activations.

  115. Candace Pearce says:

    Hi, I have been making and studying both compost tea and EM for many years probably since around 2012 or so. I didn’t have a complete understanding of the Lactobacillus per the instructions I printed off the internet (years ago). Which instructed to feed a TBSP of unsulphered blackstrap molasses. And refrigerate. They left out a step in the activation. They just said to add 1 pt. EM to 20 pts. Water and folder feed or saturate the soil.
    After studying your site and Teraganix site. I successfully activated 2 gallons (too much). But I read that I can use it up to 45-65 days. Since I’m using it on my garden all, trees and yard as well as a good portion of my Mother’s 3 acres. I’ll use it one way or another.
    Now, here are my questions. 1) I’ve read that this product does not like air, so after mixing a batch or two, do I need to continually transfer the unused portion to a smaller container?
    2 & 3) I didn’t have seaweed, so I mixed liquid kelp 1/2 cup, fish fertilizer 1/2 cup, I tsp. Of Sea 90 and 1/2 cup Activated Em (no extra molasses). I Tbsp per gallon in my leaking Gilmour 362. Is that a pretty good combo? And would you still add the extra molasses?
    3) I had some extra mixture left, would there be a shelf life in that? It’s maybe 3/4th of a cup left. Or should I go ahead mix with water and use now (a day later)?
    4) Can I mix AEM to make a plant food with my compost leechae or liquid. If so how much AEM for a 5 gallon bucket of the plant liquid and how log should it sit before ready? The liquid is about a year old.
    5) I don’t have access to cow, horse or chicken poo for my compost. I must use the store bought stuff for now. Which I mix with my finished compost, as well as store bought worm castings. Probably not ideal, but is that a good idea for now?
    Sorry for all the questions but after all my reading, I ‘m still learning ALL the time.

    Thanks sooooo much for your time and for sharing your knowledge. I’ll be making some purchases soon.
    Really,Really enjoy your posts and entire site!
    Thanks a million!

    1. 1) If you want to store it for many months, it’s good to store it without air, but if you’ll be using it within a couple of months, it’s okay to leave it in the same container.
      2) That’s a good combo. I do add the molasses, as well, but I’ve never seen any testing on how impactful it is when you already have kelp and/or fish in there. Presumably, those provide some of the benefits that the molasses provides, but the molasses may bring something to the table too, so I include it. But it’s probably the least important of the group so it’s not the end of the world too exclude it. It can clog the sprayer, too, unless it’s well dissolved, which can be annoying.
      3) You should use within a day. Would 30 hours later be a problem? I’m not sure but I’d probably dump it. I try to use it within a few hours of mixing.
      4) Probably yes but I don’t know about ratios. I’ll guess 1 cup of AEM in 5 gallons of leachate. Let it sit for just a few days. Test it on just a few plants at first and wait a week to see if there are any issues.
      5) Yes but I’d probably include them earlier in the composting process, whether beginning or middle.

  116. Ariana Buechel says:

    For a small garden (about 300 square feet) should I buy Bio Ag now for fall garden? or is it best to wait until early spring, because it keeps better without air in container? Also, does it hurt Bio Ag to store it where it gets down below freezing in NE?

    1. Good question. It should still be good next year but you’re right, it may be best for the first few months. If your fall garden is full of good stuff, I say it would be worth it to hit it every week or two with the Bio Ag, but if your spring/summer garden is your main one, you may want to wait. Alternatively, you could get the ProBio Balance and some blackstrap molasses and then make your own ( https://www.smilinggardener.com/soil-food-web/how-to-make-effective-microorganisms/ ), both now and next year.

      As for storage, they can take a little freezing but it wouldn’t be optimal to store them frozen for a long time. I’d much rather they be stored at room temperature.

  117. Bob Jordan says:

    A friend keeps losing hedge plants in a specific area. We suspect toxic contaminants in the soil. The plants grow for awhile, then the foliage falls off and they die. Would a soil drench using Bio-Ag help detoxify the soil? If so, what should the application rate be (oz/gal)?

    I should mention that some of the plants lived for 4-5 years before the foliage dropped and the trunks died. They were large plants, about 5 – 7 ft tall.

    1. It could be contaminants or could also be pest or disease. There’s a chance Bio Ag could help – it’s worth a try. For a soil and foliar drench, 1/2oz – 1pz per gallon of water. I would do it every week or 2 for a few applications. You could also send a soil sample to a lab to test for contamination.

  118. Nancy Johanson says:

    Hi Phil,
    I was about to fertilize at our tiny urban farm in Cincinnati today, then found your amazing website and held off. Because everything I read on your site rings true.
    We already planted our peas, spinach, chard and kale-the early veggies. Is it too late to use the EM and Micro. Fungi? On existing plants, bushes trees, no matter how old they are?
    For Gogi berries, apple trees, herbs, other berries which of your products do you most recommend?
    I haven’t yet looked at your videos yet, but will. Do you have an online class?
    Thanks, Nancy

    1. Hi Nancy, it’s never too late to use EM, myco, and everything else, on existing plants of all types. Indeed, other than the myco, which I only apply once per year, I apply the EM and liquid fertilizers many times per year.

      There aren’t specific products for specific plants. All of the products are good for all plants, with the exception of the brassica and amaranth families, which don’t benefit from the myco. It doesn’t hurt them to receive it – they just don’t form that relationship.

      And yes, my online class is here ( https://www.smilinggardener.com/academy/ ). Would love to have you.

  119. WOW and WOW, I have a lot of reviewing to do, I am confident that I will purchase from YOU.

  120. Hi, I would like to know if I can use this product for general purposes like cleaning the bathroom and kitchen, shoe smell remover, and washing dishes. Does it recommend to be used for only gardening purposes?

    Please advise.

    1. For cleaning, EM can be used at various dilutions, anywhere from undiluted to very diluted with 1000 parts water. Basically, the more sensitive the area, the more diluted – if you wouldn’t use straight lemon juice, you shouldn’t use straight EM. Also, if you have a lot of cleaning to do and want to reduce the cost, dilution becomes more appealing. But I often use it undiluted in the bathroom and kitchen, and for shoe smells, I spray it undiluted, too.

  121. willard hottle says:

    Bought BioAg. How do I use that to do fermentation of kitchen scraps?

  122. Alice Sanvito says:

    You know, you had me convinced when I was reading about the plants but then you started making claims about protecting you from radiation, etc. I’d like to see the evidence to support that claim.

    You completely lost credibility.


    Alice Sanvito

    1. Hi Alice, EM microbes are being used to suppress radioactive cesium transfer from soil to crops.

  123. Hey Phil,

    First I wanted to say thanks again for everything. Secondly, my question pertaining to brewing the em mother culture… I have yet to buy a repeat cycle timer and as such, currently my best option for getting a good elevated temperature is a programmable smart outlet with 5 programs and a crockpot that gets my quart of ferment in between 80-115° fluctuating throughout the day. I need to buy some test strips to check the pH as I don’t think my probe tool is working very accurately but I’m a little over a week in to the fermentation. Do you think these temperature fluctuations are too volatile or at times too hot for achieving a good brew? Thanks again — Wil.

    1. 80 is good. 115 is quite hot – it may work, but it’s pushing it.

  124. Hi Phil, when you say a 1/2 cup do you mean 1/2 a US cup (about 118ml)? Thanks!

    1. For most of my products, the manufacturer’s recommended application rate covers a range, so imperial (118ml) or metric (125ml) are both fine.

  125. hey,
    my name is robin,i was wondering if you have had anyone using EM’s on golf courses at all??I am a Greenkeeper and I am curious if anyone has good experience with using them on the greens.

    1. I have heard of it being used with success on golf courses. I think you’ll find some things if you Google it.

  126. I was educated on your EM a year ago. I wanted to see if I could repair the yard around our cabin after I had mistakenly applied weed (and grass) killer instead of just weed killer. It took a while but after a few applications, we have grass back.

    The most amazing thing happened this past summer. My newly built vegetable garden was hit with an automobile accident in early April. That destroyed my new fence along the back of this 30’ garden but when the wrecker arrived, they cut the fence at the top of that 30’ and dragged the car through the garden leaving pink (transmission) fluid through the garden. I quickly shoveled the pink snow out best I could but was concerned about soil contamination. NO ONE LOCALLY COULD TEST OT FOR ME. I was advised to plant my root crops on the opposite short ends and above ground vegetables in the middle and the plants will tell me where the soil was sick. It did. I was very disappointed. But in July a light bulb went off in my head. I would pour, full strength, my homemade EM directly on the roots where the plants were dying. The tomato plants started to grow new HEALTHY shoots. They did not have enough time to mature so I have picked the green ones that are maturing in the house now.

    I am now putting the gardens to bed and am semi-confident that next season will have greater successes.

    Thank you for giving me the tools to fix my sick soils. 😍

    1. Thanks for taking the time to share, Ann. Very cool!

  127. I’m curious what your thoughts are about soaking garlic cloves in the EM before planting to get them of to a strong start? If you think it would be a good idea, what should the dilution rate be and how long should I let the cloves soak before I take them out and plant them?


    1. I think it would be a great thing to try. Just a guess, I would do a 1:250 ratio of EM to water for just a short time, maybe an hour.

  128. Dimitar Dermendziev says:

    how about EMF and Kefir. Looking forward to get or buy Kefir grains cultivated in EM environment.

    1. Hmm, I’ve never heard of this being done. Not sure if it would work, but would be interesting to try.

  129. Hi Phil, I have used your recommendations before and have seen great results. I came here to find a few things that I need according to my soil test. I need elemental sulfer, potassium sulfate and gypsum. I already found them here. The other thing I was looking for is advice for what I should use throught the gardeneing season to feed my plants. My phosphorus is very high so I want something with nitrogen and potassium. Do you have any recommendations?

    1. Looking at the fertilizers you mentioned, it seems your soil test is calling for sulfur, potassium, and calcium for soil building. As for feeding your plants, high phosphorus doesn’t necessarily mean you need regular feedings of nitrogen and potassium. I can’t get into detail here, but personally, for regular feeding throughout the season, I tend to favor broad-spectrum liquid fertilizers like seaweed, sea minerals, and fish. That supplies a little of everything rather than focusing on just NPK.

  130. Lorelei Fenton says:

    I am getting your Bio-Ag on your suggestion. I also had purchased Mike O’Rizey Microbial Fungi, in granular form. Can I / should I use them both. For instance put the granular in the soil to enhance it when I add earthworm castings and such? Can such fungi be used on all plants, flowers etc? Or must I discriminate? If so, how?
    Many thanks for all of your hard work and kindly sharing of your knowledge.

    1. You can use the fungi in the soil for all plants. There are a small number of plants that don’t benefit (you can try to find some lists online), but most do, and there’s no harm to those that don’t.

      And yes, you should use the Bio Ag, too, as it’s quite a different thing.

      1. Ok .To clarify- the Bio Ag is what you add tomthe liquid solution. & Spray. The Mike O’Rizey is what you rub on the base of the plant at transplant time &/or sprinkle in the soil with the seeds. Do I have that right? Thanks.

  131. If a cat were to have activated EM in water, would there still be sugar from the molasses, or would the microorganisms have used most of it up?

    P.S. Thank you so much for all the information you provide. The difference for a lot of my plants is impressive!

    1. By the time the pH is down in the 3-3.5 range, most of the sugar is used up. Great question!

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