Bokashi composting offers a faster way of transforming food scraps into nutrition for your garden. The byproducts of this process can be directly used in garden soil, or it can serve as fuel for other composting methods.
In this article, I'll provide you with an overview of how bokashi composting works and how to do it.
Your Ultimate Guide to Bokashi Composting
How Bokashi Composting Works
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Bokashi composting is different from the regular composting methods because it doesn't use oxygen to decompose the materials. Bokashi is a Japanese word that means “fermented organic matter.” First done by Dr. Teuro Higa in the early '80s, this process involves the use of specialized equipment and materials to process kitchen scraps into highly nutritious outputs.
Technically, a bokashi compost does not undergo the complete process of decomposition like the other methods. However, in as short as 10 days, organic materials are already converted to usable and highly nutritious plant food.
Bokashi inoculants, also called bokashi brans, are the most important ingredients in this method. These are compost accelerators with beneficial microbes that feed on organic materials. Bokashi brans that are already mixed and ready for use are available in gardening stores. There is also a complete set kit that includes the bucket and the mix.
How to Make DIY Bokashi Bran
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- 1 tbsp molasses (15mL)
- 1 tbsp EM-1
- 500 g wheat bran (you can also use untreated sawdust as an alternative)
- 250 mL warm water
- airtight container
- Mix 1 tbsp of molasses with the warm water. Dissolve completely.
- Add EM-1 to the water mixture.
- Pour the mixture into the wheat bran and mix thoroughly.
- See to it that the mixture is wet but not soggy. Add more bran if it's drippy; water mixture if it's dry.
- Transfer your mixture into the airtight container, seal, and keep in a cupboard or cabinet for 2 – 3 weeks.
- Once done, spread the mixture on a tray and let dry in direct sunlight.
- Store in a cool dry place. Your bokashi bran, once properly dried, can last up to a year.
How to Make Bokashi Compost Bin
- 2 large buckets
- 1 Gamma Seal Lid or any airtight lid
- O-ring seal or any rubber sealants
- hand electric driller with 1/8- and 1-inch drill bits
- plastic spigot (optional)
- Drill 20 to 30 holes at the bottom of one bucket with the 1/8-inch drill bits.
- Secure the Gamma Seal Lid or an airtight lid on top of this bucket.
- Place an O-ring seal or rubber sealants on the lid of the other bucket. This second bucket is where the bokashi tea will accumulate.
- If you want to make things easier and less messy, you may install a spigot on the second bucket. Drill a 1-inch hole on the side and near the bottom of the second bucket. Position your plastic spigot into the hole. Make sure there is no leakage.
- Take your hole-laden bucket and place it inside the outer bucket. The O-ring seal will make sure the space between the two buckets is airtight.
How to Compost With Bokashi
- Place your bokashi bin in a convenient and accessible location in your kitchen.
- Chop your food scraps into small pieces.
- Put food scraps in the bin creating a maximum of 3-inch layer.
- Add a generous amount of bokashi bran mixture on top of the layer.
- Add another layer of food scraps and then repeat step 4.
- Close the lid tightly. Some use a plate or a cover to press down the mixture and lessen contact with oxygen.
- Drain the bokashi tea every 2 -3 days. Use immediately on plants or your kitchen sink.
- Once the bin is full, set aside and keep the lid closed at all times for up to 10 days.
What to Include in the Bokashi Compost
Compared to conventional composting, you can include most food scraps in your bin except large bones. You can add leftover fruits and vegetables, bread, rice, pasta, dairy, and small bones. If you really want to compost these bones, you can cut them up into small pieces.
I also advice against incorporating moldy and rotting foods. These might contain other microorganisms that might spoil your bokashi ecosystem.
Uses of Bokashi Compost
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As I've said earlier, bokashi compost is technically a pre-compost material. It only undergoes an anaerobic process that ferments organic materials rather than decomposes them completely. The acidity level is way too high for plants to tolerate. That is why, never apply directly to plants. Here are ways to make use of your fermented organic materials:
- Bury it in an area in your garden and wait for at least two weeks to use the soil for your plants.
- Feed it to your vermicompost. The worms will have an easier time breaking down the fermented materials.
- Incorporate in your regular compost bin. This will fast track the process of decomposition.
Watch this video from dogboyyama on what bokashi does to soil:
Bokashi composting is an easy and straightforward method of turning your food scraps into valuable garden nutrition. It doesn't take up much space and time to do. So if you haven't started, now is the perfect time to make your own bokashi compost!
What other composting methods have you tried? Let us know in the comments section below.
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