Just as fermented plant juice is used to enhance the soil and increase production of leafy plants in gardens, fermented fruit juice is used to increase sweetness and yield of fruiting plants as well as building healthier soil. Scientific studies on FFJ, which have been conducted only in tropical and sub-tropical zones so far, show an array of results. These results are difficult to sort as those studies raise more questions than they answer. Although, those answers may lie in the anecdotal evidence provided by the increasing number of organic, natural, and permaculture farmers around the world. Viewing the anecdotal information in light of the scientific evidence on the hyper-locality of the soil microbiome might lead us to some assumptions about FFJ and its use in our own gardens.
The specific information missing from the scientific studies on FFJ is the source of the fruit used. The question raised by this lack of information is whether or not the fruit must be sourced close to where it will be used as FFJ. The current knowledge of the hyper-local nature of soil microbiomes could be construed to mean that FFJ effectiveness is tied to the location where the fruit was grown. Anecdotal evidence seems to bear this out. So, when making your own FFJ, you may want to stay close to home to source your fruits. This includes tomato, pumpkin and other winter squashes, and potato. If you don’t grow any of these fruits, look to neighboring gardeners or local sources of edible wild fruits.
Using Fermented Fruit Juice
Fermented Fruit Juice can be used to increase the fruiting process of plants as well as to increase yield in some leafy green vegetables. It can be used as a foliar spray as well as indirect application to the soil, where it feeds the microbiome and increases soil health. FFJ is very simple and easy to make. It can be made from any number of non-citrus fruits, including those fruits that we refer to as vegetables but which are high in potassium. The fermentation agent used in FFJ is sugar, and the process takes seven to ten days and can be used immediately after that time, either on its own or mixed with FPJ or IMO.
The fermentation process, produced by sugar, extracts nutrients and enzymes from the fruit and transforms it into a liquid extract that remains viable for a year or more if refrigerated. This means that for an extremely low cost, you will have this power booster available at any time in the season when your fruiting plants need it, or for regular soil application for leafy greens and general soil health.
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Choosing Your Materials for FFJ
Types of fruits best suited to making FFJ are non-citrus fruits and vegetables high in potassium. This includes any of the following:
- cantaloupe melons,
- winter squashes,
- and sweet peppers.
It’s best if fruits are at the height of ripeness and winter squashes are cured. This is because the sugar content is at its highest then. Source everything as locally as possible if you’re not growing it yourself.
Making Fermented Fruit Juice
Making FFJ is easy. Simply follow the below steps:
- Peel and cube the fruits and weigh them before putting them into a large wide-mouth container.
- Add an equal weight of sugar, brown sugar, or molasses.
- Mix everything up so that all pieces of fruit are completely coated with sugar.
- Cover the container with fabric or paper and tie it on with string. The mixture must be able to breathe, but you want to keep pests out.
- Store the container in a cool place out of the light for seven days.
- Strain the mixture and pour the liquid into containers, leaving about one-third of the air in each container.
- Put lids on the bottles loosely for the next two weeks. This will allow the gases generated during the fermentation process to be expelled.
- After the two weeks, place the lid tightly on the container and refrigerate it. This will stop the fermentation process and leave you with an FFJ ready for the garden!
The FFJ can be used immediately after straining but, it reaches its peak after an additional fourteen days. For spraying on leaves and soil, mix two teaspoons of juice in one gallon of water.