It was not hard to decide what my first entry would be about. You see, I’m a bit evangelical about composting in general but especially Bokashi composting! I recently wrote an article called, “Putting Your Waste to Work”, about Bokashi and deep mulch gardening for Natural Life Magazine. And I was lucky enough to give a talk on the topic to a packed house at our local library last week. So, it just made sense to make it my first official post here!
Bokashi composting is just EASY! I believe it is the easiest way to eliminate ALL household food waste.
A standard American family of 4 sends 2000 pounds of food waste to the landfill each year. I live in a neighborhood with about 160 homes. That’s 320,000 pounds of waste from my small neighborhood alone!!!! Bokashi allows us to make a huge dent in that number AND create amazing compost to enhance our soil and nourish our plants.
Bokashi is a Japanese word meaning “fermented organic matter”. It is a process that has been used for 100s of years inJapan. In the 70s, Professor Higa perfected the microbial blend to help the process work correctly each time. This allowed Bokashi to become more popular and spread across the globe.
The process basically “pickles” the waste, instead of “rotting” as we see with traditional compost. The fermenting/pickling eliminates the odor associated with rotting.
The microbials work in an anaerobic environment to ferment the waste, once it is fermented it’s transferred to the soil (or compost pile) where the soil microbials take over and finish the job breaking down the food.
This process is happening without emitting gases. Methane gases being released from decomposing food waste at our landfills is a big concern in terms of “green house gases”.
With Bokashi composting we eliminated ALL of the food waste from our home, our trash doesn’t smell and at the end of the week it’s half full and light as feather! And that waste is now producing amazing compost that I can use around my yard for my veggies and flowers.
What you need:
A collection bin, that can drain. (Two bins are preferable) There are commercial bins available from Rainbow Worms or you can make your own with nesting buckets and adding a drain valve in the lower bucket. I chose a “fancy” bin like at the link above because it’s sitting out in our eating area but there are many ways to make it work!
Bokashi – wheat bran that is inculcated with microbials and left to ferment. You can buy this already made or make your own. (Recipe below)
Add scraps (dairy, bones, meat, ANYTHING) to bin and sprinkle with bokashi, cover with plate and seal lid. Remember this is an *anaerobic* process. You may choose to collect scraps on the counter in a ceramic bin and move to the bokashi bin once or twice a day or add as you go.
Once your bin is filled, it must sit for 14 days to complete the ferment of the latest materials added. You can either have two bins or move the contents of the filled bin to a 5 gallon bucket to continue fermenting.
After the ferment is completed, it can then be added to your compost pile or directly to soil in your garden or yard.
You can plant on top of the bokashi after 2 weeks. It will transform into compost to use elsewhere after 4-8 weeks. This process is even faster, in as short as 2 weeks, when you add the fermented scraps to your compost pile. It’s a great way to amend your passive pile and speed up compost production.
Making your own Bokashi:
A 6-8 month supply can be made for about $13.
You will need:
25 pounds of Wheat Bran or Rice Bran (check local feed stores)
1.5 tablespoons Ceramic powder (I get mine from Teraganix)
2.5 tablespoons Sea Salt
1/4 cup EM-1 (Teraganix sells Prof. Higa’s formula, it’s what I have always used)
1/4 cup Molasses
2 gallons HOT water
Mix the ingredients in large bin. After thoroughly mixed, it should start sticking together, move to garbage bag and suck out the air with vacuum cleaner. Let it ferment in this air tight bag for 2-3 weeks. You will know it’s done by the sweet pickling type smell. There may be white spots; that is fine. Black or green mold, is not ok to see. If you see that, air is getting in. You can scoop out those parts and reseal.
You may use it right away but if you dry it then it will last for years. To dry, spread on garbage bags or tarp (layering over newspaper helps it dry faster). Once dry you can store in bags or bins. It’s a fun process and really easy. Children especially enjoy helping! You can make small batches in buckets or huge batches on tarps. It is safe, actually good for birds and the environment. So, don’t worry if it spills outside.
- having no food waste
- the trash not smelling and being light and not needing to go to the curb each week
- the convenience
- no smelly food to be carried out in the yard
- soil enhancement, generating a lot of compost
- You need a place to bury it
- You need to make or buy your bokashi (though it’s easy to make)
- “Fancy” bins are expensive but buckets work fine (account for liquid)