Introduction to Bokashi composting for home garden
Bokashi is a pre-composting process that ferments food waste in an airtight container. Between each layer of scraps, users sprinkle bran (wheat bran, rice, and coconut husk) inoculated with some specific microbes, which establish the right anaerobic environment. Bokashi composting process is an anaerobic process that relies on inoculated bran to ferment kitchen waste, including meat and dairy, into a safe soil builder and nutrient-rich tea for plants.
In this article we also discuss below topics;
- Why choose Bokashi composting
- How long does Bokashi composting take
- What is Bokashi composting
- How do you start a Bokashi compost
- Does Bokashi speed up composting
A step by step guide to Bokashi composting for home garden
Bokashi composting process makes it possible for people with limited outside space to make high-quality homemade compost from their food waste. Bokashi composting is a process of fermentation that quickly and simply converts food waste into highly productive compost. It is rapidly becoming many gardener’s favored approach to building healthy soils and productive soils. The key to the Bokashi process is called fermentation. Through the fermentation process, Bokashi composting generates garden friendly microbes, yeast, and fungi. Then, these microorganisms are vital building blocks of a healthy and productive soil structure.
Bokashi composting eliminates many of the challenges associated with the ‘traditional’ composting process. Also, the majority of the procedure is completed conveniently right in one’s own kitchen. Though traditional back-yard composting works on select food scraps only, Bokashi composting works on all food scraps. Cooked foods, dairy, meat, grains, pasta, fruits and vegetables, a lot of it. This is key to its popularity. Bokashi composting is a two-step procedure that starts by fermenting food waste in a sealed container before composting it. Bokashi allows a variety of food waste to be composted, speeds up the composting process and can be done indoors.
What can I use for Bokashi composting?
All kitchen waste, (which is a benefit of Bokashi One composting over worm farms or traditional composting), although it’s best to avoid large bones and excessive amounts of liquid, fruit and vegetables, prepared foods, cooked and uncooked meats, and fish, dairy, eggs, bread, coffee grinds, tea bags, and wilted flowers and tissues.
How to use Bokashi in the home garden?
The most common use for Bokashi is as an inoculant in anaerobic composting, it can be added to an aerobic compost pile, added directly to soil, or used to make compost tea for watering plants.
Bokashi is one of the least expensive composting systems around. A commercial Bokashi Bucket mainly consists of a five-pound plastic bin with a tight-fitting lid on top and a spigot near the bottom. This can seem a bit steep at almost fifty dollars, but that spigot might be the difference between a process that’s easy and one that’s unmanageable. Then, the leachate needs to be poured off and lifting a five-pound bucket full of soggy kitchen waste and its run-off is beyond many. A kitchen baster might be useful for this otherwise messy procedure.
The procedure itself is about as simple as it gets. Perhaps once a day you mix kitchen waste with a handful or so of Bokashi (basically enough to coat it lightly) then press them it into the bin, sprinkle another handful of bran over them, and then close the lid. Large bones will not, of course, disappear over the course of 10 days. Then, the directions recommend cutting up small bones and even chopping other items into small pieces for maximum efficiency. If one chose to skip the chopping step, a few extra days’ fermentation time can probably reduce the larger pieces to thoroughly fermented mush.
When the bin is full, cover it tightly and then set it aside somewhere in the house where it’s out of direct sunlight for ten days or so. Every other day, draw off the liquid, which can apparently be used as a fertilizer (in a very diluted form) and full strength to control slime in drains, pipes and septic systems. After 10 to 14 days, the waste in the tub should be thoroughly pickled. It can then be dug into a fallow patch of the garden.
Step by step guide to composting with Bokashi for home garden
You may also check this: Growing Microgreens in the Backyard.
Step 1) Any planter will work for this as long as it has drain holes. Personally, think the larger the container the better; larger containers tend to dry out more slowly. Then, position the plastic grate on the ledge near the bottom of the bucket with the knob upright. Make sure the tap is in the off position.
Step 2) Firstly, add a layer of good garden soil. Fill the container approximately 1/3 full. Ideally, you want to soil with lots of life in it; worms, bugs, and creepy crawlies, etc. If you have access to potting compost then try to add a few handfuls of good garden soil too (ask a neighbor or local community garden). The more life you have in the soil the quicker the pre-compost will break down.
Place kitchen waste in the bucket and sprinkle a handful of Bokashi One Mix over every layer of waste. As a guide, use about 1 tablespoon of the mix for every cup of waste. Use more Bokashi One Mix when adding high protein foods, for example, meat, fish, cheese, and eggs.
Step 3) Next, add a layer of Bokashi pre-compost. Again, you want to fill the container by approximately a third.
Step 4) Mix the Bokashi pre-compost well with the soil layer below and make sure to break up any lumps of Bokashi pre-compost. The final stage of the Bokashi composting procedure will work faster when mixed thoroughly with the surrounding soil.
Step 5) Fill the container with garden soil. The pre-compost will sink slightly, so mound the final layer of garden soil. Add extra garden worms, if available. Then, cover the container with a large plastic bag or lid to prevent it from getting wet. Alternatively, move the container to a dry area. Excessive rain and water can cause the Bokashi pre-compost to rot and putrefy.
Step 6) Leave the container for at least 2 weeks (ideally up to 4 weeks, if possible) and you may see white mold on the surface. This is the fungi from the Bokashi microbes; the same as you may see on the top of the Bokashi bucket.
Step 7) After 2 to 4 weeks you are ready to plant. Mix the soil in the container. If you see lumps of Bokashi pre-compost then you want to leave it for a few days longer for the soil biota to finish breaking down the pre-compost. You can now add plants directly to the container; no need to add further fertilizer. Sit back and enjoy the fruits of labour.
How to use a Bokashi bucket for composting to use it in home garden
- Place your Bokashi bucket somewhere close to where food waste is produced either on the kitchen bench or under the sink.
- Place the drain plate supplied with the kit at the bottom of the bucket and this allows excess liquid to drain into the bottom of the bucket.
- Place a 3 to 4 cm layer of organic waste on top of the drain plate before coating evenly with a handful of Bokashi mix.
- Add your food waste to the bucket as you produce it.
- At the end of each day, and press down to remove air pockets using a mashing utensil or similar.
- Add a small sprinkle (handful) of Bokashi mix over the food waste so the entire surface area is covered. Then, use more when adding high protein foods such as meat, fish, cheese, and eggs.
- Ensure the airtight lid is resealed.
- Repeat the procedure until the bucket is full. For an average family, this will take 3 or 4 weeks.
- Once or twice a week, drain the liquid that has accumulated in the bottom of the Bokashi bucket and use diluted as a soil conditioner or drain cleaner.
- When the bucket is full, empty the contents into a small hole or trench in the garden. The waste material will be fermented, but it will not be broken down at this stage and it needs to go into the soil to physically break down into humus.
- Rinse the bucket with water (no detergent or soap), drain, and repeat the whole procedure.
- In 2 to 3 weeks, the waste you have buried will then be mostly broken down into the soil and will be rich with nutrients, microbes, and enzymes, all naturally formed.
Burying Bokashi waste
- Dig a hole or trench approximately 20 to 25cm deep. Add the Bokashi waste and then mix it in some soil. Cover the waste completely with soil and your soil has begun to be enriched on a microbial level. For gardens, dig the hole around plants or between rows of trees.
- Be sure the roots of very young plants do not come into direct contact with the compost as it could burn them. The compost is acidic when first dug in, but neutralizes after 7 to 10 days. It is best to wait 2 weeks before planting.
- If you don’t have room to dig a hole every time your bucket needs emptying, you can make a Bokashi compost heap, burying the waste in a regular spot in the garden. Once the waste has completely broken down, and use it as a rich top-soil. Bokashi waste can be added to a conventional compost bin.
Benefits of Bokashi composting for home garden
The benefits of Bokashi composting are;
- You can compost dairy products and meat.
- No strong odors
- No nutrients lost
- No insects or rodents
- No turning necessary
- No need to worry about the number of greens and browns
- Food scraps are inoculated with Effective Microbes
- Produces a nutrient-rich tea for plants
- It can safely contain a greater variety of food waste than backyard composting, including meat, bones, dairy, and cooked foods.
- It can be done mostly or entirely inside, making it a good process for offices, schools, or apartments. The fermenting step is always done inside, and the composting step can happen inside or outside.
- Because the buckets are kept sealed, it reduces the risk of odours and pests, that are rodents and flies.
- Waste breaks down rapidly than with most backyard composting. Food waste can be reliably broken down into finished compost in 1 to 2 months.
Helpful tips for Bokashi composting for home garden
- Though this Bokashi bucket is easy to make, you can run into a few pitfalls if you don’t get things quite right.
- The Bokashi bucket needs to be air-tight for the contents to ferment properly. Bokashi is an anaerobic system, and oxygen entering it will upset the balance. If you find that the lid you’ve purchased doesn’t fit as tightly as you’d like, place a cloth over the top of the bucket, and then snap the lid on. The extra bit of fabric will make the bucket airtight.
- This basicBokashi system doesn’t have a spigot, but it would be easy enough to harvest any liquid by lifting the top bucket off of the bottom bucket and pouring liquid that has collected in the bottom bucket into a separate container. If you prefer a spigot, drill a hole and then install it at the bottom of the bucket. Opening up the spigot makes it easier to drain the liquid from the bucket.
- bury your Bokashi pre-compost in several small holes around the garden. This is a great method to improve the soil throughout your garden; your plants will thank you for the extra boost from your fermented food waste.
- Bury your Bokashi pre-compost in bare areas of vegetable bed or allotment after you have harvested. Growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables remove much-needed nutrients and minerals from the soil. Adding Bokashi pre-compost to the soil just after harvest is the perfect time to replace these nutrients and microbes.
- As with your Bokashi bran, the kitchen composter needs to be stored out of direct sunlight and at room temperature; either indoors or in a shaded spot of your balcony or backyard. Allowing your bin to overheat may kill the Bokashi microbes and mean that the Bokashi bin will be unsuccessful.
What are the difference between Bokashi bin composting and Bokashi bucket composting?
In bucket composting you ferment your food waste in a bucket before you add it to the compost bin. The fermentation process takes 2 weeks in an airtight bucket, then you can add it to the bin. With bucket composting you can compost all food waste like meat, oils, dairy. In Bokashi bin composting, you take food waste directly to your compost bin, without going through the process of fermentation first. Add it to the bin, add Bokashi, and be sure to cover it. It is a slower process, and you won’t want to compost meat, fish, dairy, or heavy oils.
In case if you are interested in this: Making a Compost with Cow Dung.