Bokashi Composting

Most gardeners (or potential gardeners) know that composting can benefit their garden and the environment. However, not everyone is aware of the many different ways to compost. All composting refers to the process of organic material being decomposed in a controlled manner to create a material that can be used for soil nutrients. Traditional composting uses a mix of green materials high in nitrogen and brown materials high in carbon. It also includes air, water, and air.

Gardeners can compost food waste, which is then broken down into organic matter that they add to their soil. This helps to nourish their plants. There are many composting methods, from traditional composting to vermicomposting. However, bokashi composting has been gaining popularity.

Bokashi composting is very different from other methods of composting. Bokashi composting is a simple method that converts organic material into usable material. This method is a quick way to ferment food scraps in order to make them compostable faster.

What is Bokashi Composting?

Teruo Higa, a Japanese doctor, developed the composting method. It is also translated as “fading away.”

Bokashi is a method of composting that involves sealing food scraps and other organic waste in an airtight container. Then, you add a “bokashi Bran” and drain the liquid periodically until the food scraps become fermented. 

Bokashi, an anaerobic process, takes advantage of specific strains of bacteria that don’t require oxygen to thrive. This is in contrast to other forms, such as composting, which requires open-air and materials to be broken down.

The bokashi method can be described as a form of fermentation. While composting is helpful for decomposing waste and resulting in a material that can be used to plant, bokashi ferments food, which results in a more acidic matter that can be used to grow plants. The final step in bokashi composting involves adding the bokashi material to a garden compost bin or leaf spot. 

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Benefits of Bokashi Composting

Let us now discuss various benefits of Bokashi composting.

It makes a plant-nutritious byproduct

You will need to drain the liquid every few days in order to keep the bokashi bacteria healthy. This “bokashi tea” liquid should be treated as a compost tea. It is rich in nutrients that can be used to feed your herb garden or houseplants.

Uses less space

If you live in an apartment or an area with limited backyard space, bokashi can be an excellent option for composting. You can store it in a small bucket right on your kitchen counter.

Faster than traditional composting methods

Traditional composting can take many months to turn food scraps into usable matter. However, bokashi takes only one month–two weeks in an anaerobic container and two weeks in a compost pile or a fallow area of your garden.

Lower odor 

Traditional composting is known for its strong and unpleasant smells. However, bokashi emits a significantly lower level of odor. It is kept in an airtight container to ensure that it is not exposed to the air. Also, the anaerobic fermentation process doesn’t emit foul odors like traditional composting bacteria.

Minimum maintenance 

Bokashi is much easier: just place your food scraps into a bucket and drain the liquid off every few days. The maintenance required for regular compost heaps is minimal. This includes turning the piles, watering them, and monitoring what you are putting in. 

You can compost milk and meat products.

Traditional composting discourages adding meat or dairy products, either because the compost isn’t heated enough or because it can attract pests and odors. However, bokashi’s anaerobic process allows you to compost dairy and meat products.

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Disadvantages of Bokashi Composting 

  • In case, not taken care of properly, the odor can cause issues.
  • It will require regular additions of bokashi bran or an EM inoculant to be effective. The bran must be bought or made at home.
  • It is designed to be used primarily for food waste. It is not equipped with enough space to handle grass clippings and leaves or any other yard waste.

Bokashi Composting vs. Traditional Composting

Traditional composting and bokashi are methods of converting organic matter into plant food. However, their requirements differ significantly.

Maintenance

Bokashi is much easier to maintain than traditional composting. It is as simple as adding organic material to a bucket, then burying the fermented matter. Traditional composting requires more work, such as watering and tilling.

Time

Bokashi composting is the fastest form of composting and can be ready in as little as one month. Traditional composting can take many months before it is ready for use.

Oxygen

Bokashi is an aerobic process. This means its bacteria prefer airtight environments. Traditional composting, on the other hand, is aerobic and requires oxygen.

Space

Bokashi composting can easily be done on a small bucket placed on a kitchen countertop.

How to Make Bokashi Compost?

The bokashi method is one of the easiest forms of home composting. Please follow the step by step guide given below:

Get materials

You will need a bucket with a drainage spout and some bokashi bran before starting your bokashi-composting. A “bokashi bucket” or a “bokashi bin” is essential for an ideal anaerobic environment. It will also allow for easy drainage. The bran (fermented organic material, also known as “effective microorganisms or inoculants”) will contain beneficial microbes that thrive in the bokashi environment.

Add scraps

If you have kitchen scraps, add them to the bucket. Organic materials such as grass clippings and sawdust are also acceptable.

Mix bokashi bran with water and squish

Sprinkle the kitchen waste into the bucket with bokashi bran. Then press down on them using a kitchen masher, a plate, or your hand. The best anaerobic environment will be created by pressing down on the matter. Replace the lid after adding the bran. Make sure the bucket is not exposed to direct sunlight.

Keep adding food scraps

Add food scraps to the bucket, layer with more bokashi bran, and press down on the pile.

Remove excess liquid 

Excess liquid from fermentation can hinder the growth of beneficial bacteria. To drain excess liquid, turn the spigot every other day. You can dilute this liquid to fertilize your houseplants.

Place the matter in a spot that is not used for gardening

The matter should have a soft, slightly sour smell after two weeks. It is too acidic to be used for planting roots. This requires a bit more time to compost properly. To allow the food waste to decompose, you can either bury it in your garden or add it to your composting or worm bins.

Add to your garden soil

Your fermented bokashi compost will be ready for use within two weeks. 

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