$13.00 – $59.00
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 almost 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.
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 on the market made by SCD Probiotics that I’ve gravitated to called ProBio Balance (formerly EM Original).
The Main Benefits Of EM and SCD Probiotics
This product brings many benefits in the garden.
Some of the main ones are:
- 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 thousands of trials that have shown benefits for soil health, composting and plant health.
Other Benefits Of EM and SCD Probiotics
Interestingly, it has many other uses as well, some of which are to:
- Help decrease radiation from nuclear disasters, and toxins and smells from other natural disasters.
- Disinfect buildings and hospital surfaces.
- Spray on farm animals (and pets) to control odors and diseases, and to increase their overall health.
- Make a special fermented compost called bokashi that is really useful for composting your food scraps.
On top of all that, it’s an incredible probiotic for humans.
It especially helps relieve digestive issues and decrease colds and flus, but there’s a long list of other things it can help with, such as skin problems and wounds.
It’s helped me, my dad and my sister with all of these issues, and many of the hundreds of clients who bought if from me when I used to sell it in Canada.
I’ve heard of some holistic health practitioners selling it for hundreds of dollars a bottle to their patients, just because it worked so well. I truly believe it’s better than most probiotics on the market for human use, and for a better price.
That said, the products I’m discussing on this page aren’t technically food-grade, so I can’t sell them as such, but I do have an excellent food-grade version mixed with organic herbs here: Herbal Probiotic Drink
But back to the garden. These products are actually used in over 150 countries around the world.
Again, my customers who have used them on their lawns and gardens over the years are the ones who really convinced me of the benefits – especially much healthier plants, fewer pests and increased yields.
About SCD Probiotics ‘ProBio Balance’
SCD Probiotics is the company name, and ProBio Balance is their flagship product. 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?
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.
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 or 1-gallon 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 1 gallon will do 4000 square feet.
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.
How To ‘Activate’ Your Mother Culture
If you buy the mother culture ‘Probio Balance’, you can turn it into 20 times as much.
You don’t have to do it all at once, but when you’re going through the process it often makes sense to make several bottles at a time.
You can use any size container. I’ve used a quart bottle below, but you can multiply the ingredients out if you’re using a bigger container.
- Add hot water (like a hot bath) to a 1-quart plastic container until it’s about half full.
- Dissolve 2.5 Tbsp unsulfured blackstrap molasses in the water.
- Add 3 Tbsp mother culture to the water.
- Fill the rest of the bottle with more warm water, but leave a little air space on top.
- Shake/stir well, yet gently. Screw the lid on the bottle.
- Put it in the warmest part of your house. You can do this at room temperature, but it will take 6-8 weeks to finish properly. I put mine in the oven with the oven light on, at least for the first week, but make sure to leave a note on the oven so the inoculant doesn’t accidentally get cooked. 90-110 degrees Fahrenheit is best.
- After 2-5 days, gases will start building up in the container, so you’ll have to ‘burp’ it daily by simply unscrewing the lid and then screwing it right back on.
Your activation is done when the pH drops below 3.8, which can happen in a week if you kept it warm. You’ll need pH paper in the 3-4 range to test the pH (or a pH meter).
Once you’ve done it a few times, you might be able to tell just by the smell and taste, without measuring pH.
You Can Get It Here
$13.00 – $59.00
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 free 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 $10 (if your order is $99 or less) or free (if your order is $100 or more).
- 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.
- With every order, I send $1 to Organics 4 Orphans and other similar organizations. O4O is working with the world’s poor to help them grow organic, highly nutritious, highly medicinal food for themselves, and then use the surplus food to generate income for themselves as well as feeding the orphans in their communities. My hope this year is to again send $1500US, which is enough to start projects in 25 new 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.