Bokashi composting

Please also see my pages on Composting at Home and Worm Farming

If a composting is difficult for you, then perhaps a Bokashi system will make it easier.

Bokashi is a Japanese term meaning ‘fermented organic matter’. In Bokashi composting the fermentation process is anaerobic. This means that oxygen is not required for the process. The Bokashi system has advantages in the kitchen because:

  •     Smelly waste is recycled in a way that eliminates odors
  •     Insects and rodents or other animals avoid fermented organic waste

All that is needed is a bucket (with lid), some special bokashi innoculant mix, and your organic kitchen waste.

A bucket with a tap at the bottom makes it easier to drain away the liquid. Improvise by using 2 stacking buckets, eg square ones, and poke holes in the bottom of the inner (upper) bucket. Then it is easy to separate the buckets and tip out the liquid collected in the bottom bucket.

Steps for the Bokashi method:

  1.     Collect your food waste each day, chop up any larger pieces – easiest while it’s still on the chopping board after food preparation. Drain off any excess liquids. Place in bin and add some Bokashi bran (see explanation below) and mix it around a little.
  2.    Press down the contents of the bin to exclude most of the air. Use a potato masher or press on a plate or plastic lid. Make sure the bucket lid is airtight. It’s ok to have air space above the decomposing scraps – if the lid is airtight it will still be anaerobic, but if air can get in, aerobic decomposition will make it smelly.
  3.     Every day or two drain off some liquid from the bottom of the Bokashi bin. Use it to feed your plants and activate soil organisms. Just dilute it about 1:100 and put it in a watering can.
  4.     You can also use the liquid undiluted to clean the drains. It is supposed to digest scum and bacteria accumulating in drainage pipes.
  5.     When your Bokashi bin is full, set it aside to finish digesting for about 1 – 2 weeks. You can start using a second bin. The bin does not smell – there’s a bit of a yeasty whiff when you open it.
  6.     Once the fermentation has completed you can add the scraps to a worm bin, compost bin, or bury them directly in the soil. They will take 2 to 4 weeks to become rich humus in the soil, depending upon your local conditions.

What goes in the Bokashi Bin?
You can compost almost every kitchen food waste with the Bokashi process, including fruit and vegetables, prepared foods, cooked and uncooked meats and fish, cheese, eggs, bread, coffee grinds, tea bags, wilted flowers and tissues. Do not include liquids or meat bones.

Trouble shooting – PONG?
“The stuff in your bin really won’t smell if you keep it as dry as possible.” see this forum
A bad smell means it is not fermenting properly. See these FAQ

If the material you are trying to ferment has a putrid odor, it means you are not using enough Bokashi culture mix. It should have a slightly sweet pickled odor.
If the material being fermented is turning blue or black you are not using enough Bokashi culture mix. Add more and layer each batch of waste with culture mix sprinkled evenly over the surface.
Keep the Bokashi bucket out of direct sun.

What do I do with a bad batch?
If adding more Bokashi culture mix did not take away the putrid smell, then take the batch to the garden and bury it under about 8 inches of soil. Toss a couple of handfuls of Bokashi culture mix into the hole and mix a little soil into the batch before covering it. It will degrade to a fine nutrient soil in about 10 days with no residual odor. Start Bokashi again in your bucket.

What is Bokashi bran (Bokashi innoculant, Bokashi mix)?

The innoculant usually consists of either bran or sawdust impregnated with Effective Microorganisms (EM). You can buy it ready-made or DIY. Once a starter culture is made, it can be used to extend the culture indefinitely, like yogurt culture. For Bokashi, Effective Microorganisms (EM) is commonly made with molasses, water, EM starter culture, and wheat bran. There are manufacturers who claim their secrets are patented, but other helpful people share their recipes on YouTube.
The Effective Microorganisms used in the Bokashi method are natural lactic acid bacteria, yeast, and phototrophic bacteria that act as a microbe community within the kitchen scraps, fermenting and accelerating the breakdown of organic matter. Ask around at your local community garden, LETS or organic growers’ group etc to find someone with an EM “mother culture” to share.

How to make Bokashi bran mixture

From YouTube by Podchef

Ingredients

10lb wheat bran
Mix bran together dry with other optional additives eg 1 tabsp high mineral sea salt, 2 tsp ceramic powder (attracts IR energy)
3 litres very hot water about 120 deg
30ml Feedgrade organic molasses (animal molasses)
EM is microbe innoculum, fermented microbes – made with kelp etc

1 part molasses : 1 part EM : 100 parts water

Mix these together, then pour all over the wheat bran, till it is evenly damp. You know it is good when you take a handful and squeeze it and it sticks together without falling apart, about 30% moisture.

Leave it in a warm spot to ferment anaerobically for approx 2 weeks, the longer the better.

To exclude air, place in a plastic box with a lid, but cover with a garbage bag and press it down on the bran before sealing the lid.

When it has started to ferment it will have a sweet smell, almost like cyder vinegar

How to make EM

From YouTube   by Phil’s Gardener’s Pantry

Ingredients:

1 litre plastic bottle with screw top lid
Blackstrap molasses, unsulfured, preferably organic
EM mother culture
Hot water, about 150deg F (pref not chlorinated tap water)

He recommends 40ml molasses + 50ml EM + 800ml water (ie 1.25 parts EM)

Use a funnel to pour molasses into bottle, and wash it in with the hot water

Also can add some extra ingredients to really improve the process: ceramic powder, ½ tabsp rock dust (glacial or volcanic), sea minerals, liquid kelp, liquid fish

These volumes leave about 10% air space at the top of the bottle which is good for the aerobic microorganisms which are there to start the process off. Leave lid off for first 24 hours.

Keep warm for a couple of weeks at least, eg in oven with just oven light on so about 90-100 deg F, can use after a week, but better to leave for about a month. If only kept at room temp (not warmer) then need to leave for a few months before it is ready. If made several bottles full, after opening the first one can use it to top up the others so they’re anaerobic then which means they’ll last longer in storage.

WHAT TO DO

WITH DOGGIE DO-DOs ??

Some say the Bokashi method can be adapted for dealing with dog poo.  HERE IS THE METHOD

More reading:

http://www.bokashi.com.au/

Search online to buy a kit such as the Green Frog Bokashi Bucket

http://www.compostguy.com/bokashi-resource-page/

http://www.bokashicycle.com/blog/bokashi-food-scraps-for-vibrant-gardens/ – look in top menu for FAQ

http://www.greenfootsteps.com/kitchen-composter.html

http://www.bokashicomposting.com/

Instructions for how to make your own Bokashi Bucket
http://organicgardening.about.com/b/2008/12/11/og-tip-of-the-day-make-your-own-bokashi-bucket.htm

How to make your own EM Bokashi Bucket – on YouTube – includes troubleshooting

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moE0j4mKdts&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PL21539613613F1E26

another recipe page here http://bokashislope.blogspot.com/2008/09/baby-batches-of-bokashi-bran.html

and FAQs here http://www.leangreenhome.co.uk/bokashi/bokashi-faqs/

How long to let it ferment? http://organicgardening.about.com/b/2009/04/20/reader-question-how-long-does-it-take-to-get-compost-from-bokashi.htm

Green Frog Bokashi Bucket instructions http://www.bokashi.com.au/Products.htm

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