I was converting a few kilos of spent coffee grounds into home made Bokashi bran and spied a bag of shredded paper. My brain got to working and I wondered whether they would make a good substrate to breed up some microbes and make another bran alternative that I didn’t have to pay for.
I’d tried before but the paper had been shredded into strips. This bagful came from a different source and had been shredded into tiny pieces.
The substrate in the Bokashi composting system is only the home to the microbes and a way of asking sure that they get evenly distributed onto the food source to be fermented. They digest only a little of the substrate and, in my system of using coffee grounds, live mostly on the molasses until they are rendered inactive by the drying process. As soon as they hit moisture and a new food source such as vegetable scraps, they kick back into action and ferment away with the molasses remaining in the substrate as a quick energy source to get started.
Of course, I had no idea about ratios of paper to (also home made) EM1 or molasses or water so I tried my tried and true formula of 20ml molasses to 20ml EM1 and mixed that into a guestimate two cups of rainwater. There were about 2kg of paper pieces and as it turns out, I guessed correctly. That was enough to make the paper damp throughout without making it too wet.
After a second mixing, to make sure that the liquid had been thoroughly distributed through the shredded paper, it all got packed down tightly and sealed up.
When experimenting with microbes, I have a little trick. I pack someone the experimental substrate into a zip lock bag and squish all of the air out of it before sealing it up tight.
When the microbes do their thing and start eating the molasses in the mix, they excrete CO2 and that blows up the bag if they’re active enough. Its an easy way to see if the experiment is working.