What is Bokashi composting?
Well, Bokashi composting isn't really traditional composting where organic matter decompose in a compost pile, bin, or tumbler. Bokashi is actually an anaerobic fermentation process developed in Japan which does not generate compost but fermented organic matter which is what the Japanese term Bokashi actually means. Think pickled food waste.
Japanese Professor Dr. Terou Higa introduced the Effective Microorganisms, or EM, in the 1980’s. They were developed from beneficial, naturally occurring microorganisms which can be inoculated into a medium, such as wheat bran, and used to ferment most household kitchen waste and food scraps instead of sending it to a landfill.
Bokashi is quickly gaining popularity because it is easy, odor free, inexpensive, and can be kept indoors.
What do I need to make Bokashi compost?
To make Bokashi compost, only three components are needed:
- a Bokashi bucket with an air tight lid. Since this is an anaerobic technique, it has to be air tight. Making your own bucket is an option, but if you use one especially made to ferment organic waste, you will have the advantage of an air tight lid and also a spigot to drain the valuable fluids that are generated by the process;
- a Bokashi mix which typically consists of wheat bran and molasses inoculated with Effective Microorganisms (EM); and
- organic kitchen waste, of course. This includes anything you would put in a regular compost bin, but you can also add; and this is why the process is so interesting; meats, bones, fish, oily foods, and dairy products.
How do I make Bokashi?
Put food scraps in layers in the Bokashi bucket. Start with a one-inch layer and cover with a handful or two of the Bokashi bran mix. Remember to compress or compact the layers to minimize air pockets. You can use a plate or some other sort of tamper. When the Bokashi bucket is full, it should sit and cure for about two weeks so that the microorganisms can go to work.
What do I do with Bokashi?
After the Bokashi has been curing undisturbed for about two weeks, you can do several things with the fermented kitchen scraps:
- Add the mix to your compost bin or compost tumbler.
- Add it to your worm bin and let the red wigglers finish the process.
- Dig a shallow trench in the ground and bury it to let the earth finish the process.
Bokashi tea is a mixture of water and the liquid that is generated during the fermentation process in your bokashi bucket. This liquid can easily be drained from the spigot on your bucket.
The liquid is packed with microbes and nutrients and can be used to make bokashi compost tea. To make the compost tea, dilute the bokashi liquid 1 part to 100 parts water (Example, 1 oz bokashi liquid mixed with 100 oz of water) and then use the bokashi tea to water your indoor or outdoor plants. Your plants will receive benefits from the nutrients and microbes and reward you with improved blooms and growth.
If you have processed animal waste in your Bokashi bucket, we recommend that you use the compost tea on outdoor flower beds only and not on indoor plants or vegetable beds. Always remember that animal waste can contain human pathogens (disease-causing microorganisms) and you should be careful when handling.