Bokashi is a Japanese word for fermented organic matter. It is a different way of converting food waste/organic material into nutrient-rich soil amendment than the commonly known aerobic composting. Unlike compost, Bokashi is made by fermenting (acidifying) the food waste using micro-organisms under anaerobic conditions, i.e. in a completely leak-proof container.
For this to happen, you need the right aggregate of microorganisms: yeasts, lactic acid bacteria, and photosynthetic bacteria. These micro-organisms are also called EM which is the abbreviation for Effective Micro-organisms.
Understanding the Bokashi Process
The Bokashi process relies heavily on the use of a mixture known as Bokashi inoculant. This inoculant consists of either wheat bran or another similar substance that’s been inoculated with a specific group of beneficial microorganisms. When you add food scraps and organic waste into a Bokashi bin or Bokashi bucket, you’ll sprinkle a layer of Bokashi bran over it. This ensures that the food waste undergoes fermentation rather than decay.
What Can You Compost with Bokashi?
One of the most significant advantages of the Bokashi system is that you can compost meat and dairy products. These items are usually not recommended for a regular compost heap because they can attract pests. However, with the Bokashi method, these kitchen wastes become fermented material that can later be incorporated into garden soil.
For households new to Bokashi composting, starting can be as simple as a DIY Bokashi project. All you’d need is a tight-lidded bucket, some inoculated bran, and your food scrap. Once the bucket is full, you seal it and let the anaerobic process take over.
From Bokashi Pre-Compost to Garden Gold
The Bokashi waste you produce is not usable compost just yet. It’s what’s often referred to as ‘Bokashi pre-compost’. This fermented Bokashi needs to be buried in compost trenches in a garden or added to a hot compost pile or worm bin to break down further. Once integrated into the soil, the fermented material becomes a rich, nutritious amendment that plant roots thrive on.
Bokashi Juice: A Bonus Byproduct
As the food waste ferments in the Bokashi composter, a liquid commonly termed “Bokashi juice” is produced. This compost tea can be diluted and used as a potent liquid fertilizer or as a natural drain cleaner.
Storing Bokashi Bran
It’s advisable to keep your Bokashi inoculant or Bokashi starter in a cool, dry place. For those looking for an upgraded version, there are options for premium Bokashi bran available in the market. If kept well, this inoculant can last for a long duration.
Why Choose Bokashi Composting?
Composting produces a myriad of benefits for the environment by reducing kitchen waste that would otherwise end up in landfills. The nature of Bokashi composting is particularly attractive due to its ability to handle meat products and its relatively quick turn-around time. Moreover, for those with limited space, the Bokashi system, requiring just a sealed bucket and a layer of bran, is an ideal choice.
Tips for Successful Bokashi Composting
- Ensure you press down each layer of food waste to remove any air pockets. Using a plastic bag or any other clean tool can help with this.
- Always ensure you sprinkle a layer of Bokashi bran after every layer of food scrap.
- Once your bin is full, ensure it’s sealed well to maintain an anaerobic environment.
- Regularly drain off the Bokashi juice from the bottom of the bucket to prevent the waste from getting too wet.
- Once you’ve completed a bucket, it’s helpful to have 2 bins on rotation. As one bin ferments, you can start filling the other with your kitchen scraps.
In conclusion, Bokashi composting offers a multi-step process that’s both efficient and environmentally beneficial. By leveraging the power of fermentation, households can convert their kitchen waste into a rich soil amendment that nourishes plants and benefits the garden ecosystem. Whether you’re a gardening novice or a seasoned pro, the world of Bokashi composting awaits!
Get started: Make Bokashi Compost in just 5 to 6 Weeks
It is very simple. All you need is:
- fresh food waste
- a Bokashi kitchen compost bin
- composting yeast
Bokashi kitchen compost bin is specially designed for you to ferment all your food waste in it. It is no bigger than it can fit under the kitchen sink. It has a tight-fitting lid, drainage, and a tap. It holds 16 liters of food waste. The tight-fitting lid prevents odors and flies.
The bucket also comes with a small scoop for measuring the wheat bran inoculated with EM, a small cup for collecting the bokashi liquid, and a plunger for squeezing air pockets out of the food waste when you add it to the bucket.
Included with a Starter Kit are 2 Bokashi kitchen compost pails, a beaker, a plunger, a small shovel, and 1 kg of Bokashi slurry.
The Advantages of Making Bokashi in the Bokashi Kitchen Compost Bin
- no odor nuisance in the form of rot
- no bags
- no insects or worms
- emptied 1 to 2 times per month
You get your food waste converted into bokashi* in an oxygen-free fermentation process in the bucket – in a simple and ecological way. Bokashi is the name given to all organic material that ferments without oxygen with the help of bacteria and yeast-effective microorganisms. The food waste ferments and does not turn into the soil in the bucket – only when it gets into the ground does it turn into the compost/soil we know.
Compost in 5 to 6 Weeks
It takes only 5 to 6 weeks to make your own compost (bokashi) compared to the equivalent of 1 to 2 years for conventional composting. The whole composting process is fermentation. Every time you put food waste in the bucket, you add a bit of bokashi bran, which contains Effective Microorganisms. The microorganisms help to speed up the digestion of your food waste.
The micro-organisms make the food waste acidic instead of rotting. The pH slowly decreases to below 4. The acidity disappears after 14 days in the soil and at the same time, the pH adjusts to the soil’s own pH around 6-7.
In return, you get quality compost for your plants – plants in the living room, garden, and on the balcony. Another by-product is bokashi liquid, which is diluted 1:100/200 with water and is also a powerful fertilizer for your plants, conditioner for your drainage, or in the septic tank.
You get 3 useful products: solid fertilizer, liquid fertilizer, and drain cleaner.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a bokashi bucket?
A bokashi bucket, also known as a bokashi bin, is a special container used for the bokashi composting method. It is a system that allows you to ferment kitchen scraps and other organic materials quickly and efficiently.
How does bokashi composting differ from traditional composting?
Bokashi composting is an anaerobic fermentation process that uses a special inoculant, called bokashi, to break down organic matter. Unlike traditional composting methods, bokashi composting can handle a wider range of materials, including meat and dairy, in addition to regular compostable items.
What is bokashi tea?
Bokashi tea is a liquid byproduct that is produced during the fermentation process in the bokashi bucket. It is rich in beneficial microbes and nutrients, making it an excellent natural fertilizer for your plants.
What are microbes and why are they important in bokashi composting?
Microbes are microscopic organisms that play a crucial role in the breakdown of organic matter. In bokashi composting, specific types of microbes are added to the system to promote the fermentation process and prevent the growth of harmful pathogens.
Can I use coffee grounds in my bokashi bucket?
Yes, coffee grounds are a great addition to your bokashi composting system. They provide nitrogen and help balance the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio in the fermentation process. Just make sure to mix them well with other kitchen scraps.
How airtight should the bokashi bucket be?
The bokashi bucket should be airtight to create an anaerobic environment for the fermentation process. It is important to seal the lid tightly to prevent the entry of oxygen, which can inhibit the growth of beneficial microbes.
What is the difference between the bokashi method and the traditional composting method?
The bokashi method is an anaerobic fermentation process that breaks down organic matter using a specialized inoculant. Traditional composting methods, on the other hand, rely on aerobic decomposition, where oxygen is crucial for the microbial breakdown of materials.
Can I use bokashi compost in my garden?
Yes, you can use bokashi compost in your garden. Bokashi compost is a nutrient-rich organic fertilizer that improves soil health and enhances plant growth. It helps replenish beneficial microbes and provides plants with essential nutrients.
Bokashi composting stands out as an innovative, sustainable, and efficient approach to transforming kitchen waste into garden gold. By embracing an anaerobic fermentation process, it challenges the norms of traditional composting and offers households the capability to handle a broader range of organic waste, including meat and dairy products. Not only does this method provide rich, nutritious soil amendments that benefit plant growth and health, but it also aids in our collective journey toward reducing landfill waste and enhancing our environmental responsibility. Whether you have a sprawling garden or just a tiny balcony space, integrating Bokashi composting into your waste management routine can be a game-changer for both your green space and the planet.