Fermented plant juice (FPJ) is a liquid fertilizer made from local plants and brown sugar.
Korean Natural Farming and most types of Natural Farming practices take advantage of what nature provides. What you have in your local vicinity. Bioliquid fertilizers, like this fermented plant juice fertilizer, do exactly that. This FPJ recipe teaches you how to make this staple KNF input.
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Fermented Plant Juice Recipe
The plants or vegetables used to make FPJ contain chlorophyll, plant tissue, hormones, and beneficial microorganisms from the leaves.
The faster it grows, the more beneficial hormones it has. The microbes eat up the brown sugar and kick off the fermentation process.
A single square centimeter of a leaf’s surface contains somewhere around 100,000 to 150,000 cells of microorganisms, most of which are lactic acid and yeast producing.– Applied Natural Farming
If you know how to make any fermented food recipe, then you’ll pick this fermented organic liquid fertilizer recipe right up.
Watch FPJ be made Hawaiian-style
In this video below, a Hawaiian farmer explains how he farms using traditional Korean Natural Farming methods and shares useful information as he makes a fermented plant juice on camera.
When properly made, FPJ contains:
- Beneficial plant hormones
- Primary and secondary plant nutrients
- Lactic acid microorganisms
FPJ is the third of three fermented plant fertilizers we like to use in our home gardening as well as with Ling’s plants she sells at her shop.
To make fermented plant juice fertilizer, you can use any leafy greens, kitchen vegetable scraps or even weeds growing between your driveway cracks. Ideally, you’re using the tips of plants and herbs with morning dew on them. Banana plant stalk works great too. You want to extract the water from these, so you can imagine how nice banana plant is.
For application, you can use it for everything, from seed soaking and soil preparation to support budding plants to general waterings to support overall growth.
Fermented Plant Juice Recipe (FPJ) PDF
- 1 Clay jar
- 1 100% cotton fabric
- 2/3 full Plant material fast growing plants before sunrise
- 1/3 weight of plant material Brown sugar or molasses
- Water *Optional. If needed, just enough to top off the plant material
- It’s important to know that this fermented plant juice should be started right away after gathering your plants. Start the ferment while the plants are still fresh or else you will have a low quality, weak fermented juice.FPJ Step-By-Step Directions: First thing in the morning, go out and pick your green plants as they still have their morning dew
- Do not wash these plant leaves, just swipe off or lightly flick off any dirt or debris. If you wash it, you lose many beneficial microorganisms the FPJ needs .
- Weigh your plant material, then mix in with it 1/3 of its weight, brown sugar. (You can use up to 1/2 of the plant material’s weight of brown sugar, depending on the plant’s natural water content)
- Next, stir these together in a container on a wide tray or container. Lay some newspaper on top and let it sit for a couple hours.
- After the initial waiting period, place the mixture in your clay pot. You should have enough to fill the jar up 2/3 full with the plant and sugar mix. Don’t bring the newspaper into it, just the plants and sugar mix. Leave 1/3 free for air circulation.
- It’s recommended to place a rock on top of your plant material mixture to push out extra air before rubber banding a thin cloth or piece of paper on the clay jar as a lid. If your container has it’s own lid, don’t use it. Use paper or thin cloth (we had a million 100% cotton thin sheets we used for our newborn. These are perfect for fermenting clay pot lids. By tying a cloth or paper tight it keeps little critters like fruit flies out.
- After 1 to 2 days of sitting in a dark room, open the jar and remove the rock you have inside to remove extra air. You can use any heavy object for this, but at this step take it out. Will no longer use it.
- Leave the clay jar open for a few minutes up to an hour and then cover it again to let it ferment for a few more days.
- After around 5 days, check the plant material to see if liquid is coming out from the plants yet. The sugar should have broken down the plant cells and started the decomposition process to get it fermenting. If there is no water yet, at this point you want to add clean water to it yourself, just enough to top off the plant material, no more. Cover it again and place it back in your dark room.
- Next, after adding the water or confirming water has been extracted and covering it again, leave it be for 2 to 3 weeks. Do not touch it, mess with it, check on it, or move it to a better location in these 2 to 3 weeks. Leave it alone to let it complete the fermentation.
- After this final waiting period, it should be finished. The fermentation won’t have a very pleasant smell. It will be sour. If you see tiny bubbles, then it’s well made and ready to use.
- Strain and store: Last step is to strain the plant material out. Discard the solids and keep the liquid fermented plant juice in an air tight container. It will last a year in room temp in an airtight container.
- If the plant leaves are large, cut them into ~10 cm pieces to increase osmotic pressure (plant cell breakdown starts fermentation process) and surface area.
- Make sure to let the FPJ ferment undisturbed. Bubbles start forming after a couple days and this is a clue that all is well. If after a week it’s still not fermenting, your weather may be too cold, or it may be due to disturbing it too much in the first days.
- The finished FPJ will have a light alcohol scent. This is normal for ferments and is caused by chlorophyl breaking down.
- Plants that were washed or collected after a rain won’t have enough lactic acid bacteria or yeast. This will make the ferment come out thick, dark and sludgy. It is still usable, but it’s not a prized possession like a well-made FPJ.
- Choose plants that grow fast. Faster growers contain growth hormone that plants really respond positively to when fertilized with it. They’ll in turn grow faster and stronger as well.
What Happens During Fermentation To Make It A Fertilizer
FPJ from green plants is rich in nutrients and growth hormone for plants.
In order to become fermented plant juice, the green plants produce cell sap and chlorophyll by using sugars that build up the osmotic pressure that breaks down plant cells and starts the process of decomposition by fermentation of the agents’ cell walls by microorganisms.
How To Use Fermented Plant Juice Fertilizer
The concentration should never exceed 0.2%.
- Early Stages: Use a 0.1% concentration of FPJ for seed soaking, germinating plants and to fertilize your seedlings.
- Mid-Stages: 750:1 Once you see stem growth, increase the concentration to 0.2%.
- Later stages: 500:1 Dilution. Spray onto leaves and fruits. It will take some personal experimentation depending on your local factors and plants used. Potatoes for example, don’t like fermented plant juice fertilizer at all. Most plants do thrive with it though. I find the 500:1 dilution to work better than the stronger 200:1.
KNF Liquid Fertilizer Dilution Guide
Before fertilizing your plants with green plant FPJ, you must dilute it.
- 1 part FPJ to 500 parts water (0.2% concentration)
- 1 part FPJ to 1,000 parts water (0.1% concentration)
0.1% (also commonly known as 1:1000 dilution)
For this dilution, use 3/4 tsp per 1 gallon. This scales up to 1 1/4 tbsp FPJ per 5 gallons of water and 3/4 cup FPJ for 50 gallons of water.
0.12 (slightly stronger than the 1:1000 FPJ Solution)
For this dilution, use 1 tsp per gallon, 5 tsp per 5 gallons, 1/2 cup for 25 gallons and so on.
0.2% (1:500 dilution)
This dilution comes out to 1 1/2 tsp FPJ per 1 gallon of water, 2 1/2 Tbsp per 5 gallons of water, 5 Tbsp FPJ liquid per 10 gallons, and so on.
0.5% (1:200 dilution)
This is the strongest I’ve seen recommended, but I have no experience using this strength successfully on our vegetables or herbs. I stick to the 1:1000 and occasionally use the 0.2%.
Some more tips to help you make a perfect green plant FPJ.
- Select the right types of plants. Use plants that are growing in your farm or garden to make the fermented plant juice. These same plants are the best choice for your growing needs because the fertilizer you’ll use is made from the same plant it’s fertilizing. The benefit of this is that you’ll get all the best and vital substances those plants need to grow strong.
- Plants have the most nutrients before sunrise. Early morning fast growers make for the best FPJ plant ingredient. However, you can also use plants on a sunny day.
- The key is to have their moisture levels low. Wait 2 days after a rain to use those leaves for the FPJ. And don’t wash the ones you do collect afterwards before the ferment.
- Choose plants that are growing strong and in season to make your FPJ from.
- Choose plants that have long been established in the local area where the FPJ will be used.
Watch FPJ Being Made
Here I’ll share some great videos I’ve got bookmarked to help spread good information natural fertilizers and farming. This one below is a great one for learning how to make fermented plant juice. He uses the local weeds growing around the farm.
Worth Repeating: Less Is More With KNF Fertilizers
See the dilution guide above.
You must dilute the liquid fertilizer with water. 1 part water to 1,000 parts FPJ is a good starting point for the early germination period and on the seedlings.
As stems develop you can increase the concentration. You still never want to get to 1% as far as I know. The one time I did that I almost killed my resilient chili pepper plants.
KNF FPJ Recipe Summary
I hope this post has been useful in helping you learn all about making fermented plant juice. This KNF fertiliser recipe can easily be made at home with basic materials and ingredients; clay pot or glass jar, cotton cloth, plants and brown sugar, and sometimes water.
Add to that a little time to wait and a space you can keep it in undisturbed and cool, dark and without sunshine, and you’re set to produce a powerful and effective organic fertilizer that goes for a hefty price when buying it from a retailer. The best KNF FPJ will come from your home garden.
You can also use FPJ with your livestock and animals. FPJ residue mixed with feed can increase your animals’ good gut bugs. In pens, it’s mixed in floor material as well as sprayed inside to neutralize odors.
Thanks for visiting Sprouting Fam!
If you have any interesting KNF FPJ information, experiences making it, or tips for us or other fellow food and herb growers who come by to help make it, please let us know in the comments!
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Five star rating. I am raising some com fre y so I am going to try this. Thanksa cliff
Hey Cliff, sounds great! Thanks for the rating it’s very much appreciated!! I’m going to publishing some more content soon on more liquid ferments we’ve been doing. Have a good one.
Excellent work John. Thank you so much I will try applying in my field.
Thanks for the compliment Nandkumar!
Very great sharing, thank you. How regular should we use this FPJ? Will it be enough if we just use FPJ alone without organic or chemical fertilizer?
Hey Andy, thanks. I’d say in addition to compost, but that’s a good question. I imagine water + the various organic liquids without compost being good enough in some circumstances, but I don’t know. I guess it depends on where you’re growing from. I hope someone who knows and sees this and comments! And in the meantime I’ll look into it too, cheers.
Great job I learned a lot. The only question I have is how often do I spray my plants with FPJ in general?
Hi Chris, thanks! Sorry for such a late response. 2020 has got me sidetracked. Anyways, here’s a good piece of information from Hawaiian KNF teachers that answers your question: “Apply FPJ once per week in the late afternoon, ideally an hour before sunset. The solution can be watered onto plants or into the soil, or it can be applied as a foliar spray. The nutrient solution is applied once per week and is adjusted as the plant passes through its life-cycle stages and vegetative and reproductive phases.”
I tried many time making mine for the past 9 months, and i always have one problem…the present of some kind of small worms inside my FPJ cases after 1 week. They always appear, no matter if i cover the cases with white papers, cloth, or just the case’s own cover (with super small holes for air). I use many types of fresh plants as experiments; from grasses, water spinach to banana stem and bamboo shoots but the worms appears anyway. The same goes for my Fermented fruit juices. What did i do wrong? Or is it a norm that the experts didn’t mention to not scare amateur like me…lol
Hey FarmPunk! Good question. I hope someone with experience encountering the worms (maggots?) can reply after. If they’re maggots, maybe this can become a problem but if they’re small worm-like things that are not about to turn into flies, then I’d think this can be a good sign. Either I haven’t seen them or haven’t looked close enough to see them, but if everything else is oK, you’re not getting black mold and it looks proper and smells right, then I’d ignore and use. But if they start overgrowing and mess with the liquid then that’s not good either! Not for storing purposes. That’s not helpful, but I hope someone with the little worm issues can comment and I’ll go look closer.
Can I use aloe vera for FPJ? And do I pick it up early in the morning? That is what I have in abundance now.
And can I use it on my seedlings so they grow fast?
Can I use orange peels for FPJ? I have lot of oranges. They are not freshly picked, I already picked and they are in the fridge. As I keep eating them, can I store them and use for FPJ?
Hi Venu, good question re: aloe vera. I will give this one a try and have to update. As far as the orange peels, no. I would think that the tips of the aloe would be OK, but better would be the early morning leaves of a weed you have growing, or any other plant. Give the aloe a try and let us know. I will attempt as well. Thanks for coming by.
You mention that molasses is significantly less expensive than brown sugar but I’m finding just the opposite. Would you mind sharing your source for organic molasses?
Hi Kat, thanks for coming by. Yeah for large bulk purchases, I’ve seen molasses be cheaper, but overall for what we get they are about the same. It varies by brand, but molasses in bulk I found to be cheaper than brown sugar. This 40lb jug of organic molasses https://amzn.to/3rmasTa is $80 whereas this 50lb bag of organic brown sugar https://amzn.to/3lWHTKP is the same price. So for these levels of purchasing they’re not very different in pricing.
Hello, i have followed this recipe and im on day 7. At day 5 i added water to cover plant material level. Today (day 7) i peeped in there and have some white growth on top of the material but i dont see any liquid. Can i add more water and wait 7 more days? Or if i am having to add more and more water, is this ‘fpj’ no good ?
Hi Kyle, I’d let it be and start another with the same materials and if the same thing happens add water to that second one again. But not more than just 1 more time (at day 7). I’ve not added water again, but you should try it and test it out. Continuation of adding more and more water would affect the fermentation negatively. After this test, try different plant material for a third batch and see how it works out. White growth is normal. We’ve been busy offline so just saw this comment. Cheers thanks for coming by.
Hi! I am currently doing a fermentation using an ipil ipil and water spinach leaves, I wanted to ask if is normal to have white molds and the leaves become brown after 3 days? but the smell is good though.
Hi Yesha, yes this is normal.