BOKASHI is Japanese for "fermented organic matter."
What Is BOKASHI Composting?
Bokashi Composting is an easy, convenient & clean way of turning your kitchen food waste into nutrient rich soil conditioner in your kitchen without the bad smell.
Sprinkling a layer of Bokashi Powder on a layer of food waste in a tightly closed bin, the EM (Efficient Microbes) in the Bokashi Powder starts to pickle the food waste. During the pickling process Bokashi Tea is produced and the solids eventually will change into nutrient rich soil conditioner. This nutrient rich pickled solids once buried in the soil will further breakdown into compost within a few weeks.
Bokashi Powder is a bran-based material that has been inoculated with naturally occurring scientifically isolated EM (Efficient Microbes).
How to Bokashi
GET STARTED! All you need is just a MyBokashi Bin and MyBokashi Powder. The Bin can be placed in the kitchen under the sink counter.
To start, sprinkle a layer of MyBokashi Powder at the bottom of the Bin.
Break food waste into smaller pieces. Food waste can be both cook and uncook. DO NOT ADD liquids, food that is rotting and moldy, big bones and non organic matter. Ensure food waste is drained well.
Throw in the well drained food waste. This is done preferably as the last kitchen chore of the night.
Sprinkle a handful of MyBokashi Powder over a 3-4cm of food waste. Add in more than normal for hard to decompose food such as meats and small bones. Press down the food waste every time you add them to the Bin to remove air from the layers.
Ensure the lid is secured tightly to reduce the amount of oxygen, creating ideal conditions for the pickling process. Repeat steps 3-5 until the Bin is full and cover with a generous layer of MyBokashi Powder. Let the full Bin sit for 10-14 days to ferment.
Drain liquid (Bokashi Tea) from the Bin 2-3 times a week. Continue to drain the liquid off the full Bin. Bokashi Tea can be used diluted as great natural fertilizer or poured directly into drains or kitchen sinks. Liquid cannot be stored and must be used within a few days.
Appearances of white growth on the surface and the presence of a sweet and sour pickle-like smell are good indicators that fermentation is in progress. When the full Bin fermentation period is completed, the content is ready to be buried into your garden or planter box.
A) Transfer material directly into your garden
Dig a trench 18" to 24" deep. Mix the fermented food waste with soil as you add it to the trench.
Sprinkle some MyBokashi Powder over the top.
Be sure to cover the fermented food waste completely with soil to assure further fermentation and to prevent your pets or unwanted critters from feasting on the fermented food wastes!
B) Transfer material directly into a pot/planter box
Fill 1/3 of container with potting soil.
Add the fermented food waste.
Sprinkle some MyBokashi Powder over the top.
Lightly mix the fermented food waste together with soil.
Cover the fermented food waste completely with soil to assure further fermentation and to prevent your pets or unwanted critters from feasting on the fermented food wastes!
Cover with a plastic bag to maintain anaerobic conditions.
Tips and Other Alternatives
Most kitchen food waste can be added such as fresh fruit and vegetables, onions, citrus, cheese, processed foods, cooked and uncooked meats and fish, teabags and coffee grounds, bread and cake, eggs, wilted cut flowers and even your left over spaghetti bolognaise.
DO NOT add bones, liquids such as milk and fruit juice, packaging eg. foil, plastic or paper. Do not add foods that are rotted and mouldy or contaminated with any sort of chemical.
Collect the day's food waste into a lidded colander, let the liquid from the food waste drain. Put away the day's food waste into the Bin as a last kitchen chore of the night.
If you intend to go for a holiday, just add a generous layer of MyBokashi Powder to your bucket and its is perfectly alright to leave your Bin to continue pickling.
A coating of white fluffy mold/fungi on the surface in your Bin is a sign of successful, good Bokashi Composting.
Bokashi Tea is also good cleaning agent for drains and toilet bowls.
Incorporate the pickled solids from the Bin into your garden compost pile, covering with at least 8 inches of compost materials.
Turn the compost pile as you normally would. The materials from the Bin will boost the anaerobic bacteria in your compost and add valuable vitamins, antioxidants, and amino acids to your compost materials. EM also encourages the growth of other beneficial microbes and prevents putrefaction in the compost pile.
What's the difference between the bokashi composting and traditional composting?
Basically, the bokashi system "pickles" your organic waste rather than the decaying process that occurs with traditional composting. You'll be able to produce nutrient rich compost in less than half the time without the unpleasant smells normally associated with composting.
What does the term anaerobic fermentation mean?
It means oxygen is excluded during the breakdown process. Technically during the fermentation process small amounts of oxygen may be present. The process works best when the oxygen levels are very low and is inhibited when oxygen is present.
What are microbes?
Microbes are living cellular organisms so small that they are only visible with a microscope. The microbes in the bokashi powder has been proven to rapidly degrade (ferment) organic waste while suppressing the growth of other potentially dangerous organisms.
Will the microbes cause harm to me or my pets?
No. These microbes are very common in nature and considered non-pathogenic. Each has a specialized function and they work well together. They are found in foods we eat like cheese, yogurt, breads and wines.
Do I have to worry about gases being produced during my fermentation process?
No. Unlike composting, no measurable gases are being produced and you will not notice any bad odors. It is perfectly safe to operate in the home. No methane gas is produced.
Where is the best place to store my bin?
Bins are best stored in a warm place to allow good fermentation to occur. Place it under the sink counter where you can access to it easily.
Will vermin be attracted to my bin?
No. This is a great advantage. Because the system is completely sealed no mice, rats, cockroaches, or other pests will be attracted to the fermenting organic waste. You will not be bothered by fruit flies or any other insects coming to the waste material.
How should I store my bokashi powder?
Keep it out of the direct sun in a protected enclosure away from heat. Ultraviolet light will destroy microbes. Keep it dry.
How long does the bokashi powder last?
The shelf life is at least 3 years if kept in a proper condition. The wheat bran and drying process allow the microbes to become dormant until they are introduced to their ideal environment and food source. Keep tightly closed for maximum effectiveness.
Should I wear gloves when I use the bokashi powder?
This is unnecessary as there is no harm even by direct contact. You can use a plastic spoon to scoop bokashi powder onto the foodwaste.
How do I know if the bokashi powder has gone bad?
If there is green, blue, black or brown mold on the powder, this indicates putrefaction, and it should be thrown out. However, if kept sealed and with minimal exposure to oxygen, the bokashi powder will last for years. (Not resealing your bag after you use it may cause a white mold to grow. This mold does not mean your bokashi powder has gone bad. Continue to use as directed.)
How do I know how much bokashi powder should I use?
1-2 handful to 3-4 cm of food waste.
What is bokashi tea?
This is the liquid that is produced during fermentation and includes some liquid that was associated with the food waste put into the bin.
How long do I wait to get the bokashi tea?
It may take a week or more if you are just starting a process. Once it begins to form, you will usually collect some every few days. It depends on what is being put in the bin and if you are getting very little tea it is ok.
What do I do with the bokashi tea?
The liquid removed is loaded with microbes and nutrients. If you dilute the tea 1 to 1000 water and then use it to water your indoor or outdoor plants, they will get the benefit of the nutrients and microbes. The plants should improve on blooms and growth.
If you pour it down the drain it will help keep the drains clean. It is very useful in preventing sludge from building and blocking drainage fields in septic systems and is a good way to minimize problems in your septic system. Just use the tea undiluted and poor it down the drain.
Why I am not getting any bokashi tea?
Bokashi tea production is regulated by the fermentation process and the types of food used. Check the types of foods you are using, for example, dry foods such as bread won't produce much moisture, whereas juicy fruits such as oranges will.
I saw some white growth on the surface of my compost. Has my compost gone bad?
No. This is a good indicator that the fermentation is in progress. White mold is a sign of beneficial bacteria. Continue to use as directed.
How To Tell If Your Fermentation Has Worked
Once your chosen fermentation period is over open the bin and you will see that the food has been preserved like pickles. The following indicates the bucket has been a success:
- Well fermented food organics should have a smell similar to cider vinegar or that of pickles.
- Occasionally, particularly for longer periods of fermentation a white cotton-like fungi growth may appear on the surface. This shows that a good fermentation process has occurred. Remember to drain the bucket juice regularly during the fermentation period.
The Signs That All is Not Well
- A strong rancid or rotten smell indicates the process has failed.
- The presence of maggots or black or blue-green fungi indicates that contamination has occurred and the process has not fermented but putrified.
Reasons why compost gone bad…
- Old kitchen wastes were included in the bin. Use only fresh kitchen waste. Old kitchen waste may have started to decay which leads to foul odour and may encourage the presence of worms.
- Bin lid is not covered properly. Make sure the bin is air tight to avoid any pest or air to enter in it. Bokashi tea (liquid) has been left in the bin for a long time. Release bokashi tea every 2-3 days and apply immediately as directed.
- Not enough bokashi powder was mixed in the food waste. Add more bokashi powder to the food waste to regenerate fermentation process.
- Excess moisture in the bin may cause odours during the fermentation process. Try to keep the compost materials as dry as possible. If odour occurs, add in more bokashi powder.
What do I do with a bad batch?
If adding more bokashi powder do not take away the putrid smell, then take the batch to the garden and bury it under about 8 inches of soil. Toss a couple of handfuls of bokashi powder into the hole and mix a little soil into the batch before covering it. It will still degrade to a fine nutrient soil.
How long can a full bin of fermented food waste sit before being buried in the ground?
The 14 day period is a minimum recommended time only and as long as you continue to drain off the juice, the time taken until disposal can be extended as long as the bin remains airtight.It is not unusual for users to go on holiday for long periods and report back that their bokashi bin was just as they left it weeks before.
My compost (food waste) has retained some of its original, physical properties. Can I still bury it in the ground?
Yes. The fermenting food waste in the bin will retain much of its original physical properties but will have a pickled appearance. Complete breakdown of material will occur once it's transferred into the soil and has been in the soil for two weeks to two months – depending on climate and soil conditions.
What happens when I put it in the ground?
The soil microbes very rapidly finish the job converting your fermented organic waste to a rich nutrient soil for your plants. In numbers, the soil microbes may be anywhere from 1,000 to 1,000,000 times more numerous then the fermentation microbes. They will immediately begin to degrade the fermented waste product and they re-establish soil microbial and nutrient content.
When I bury the compost, should I leave it in that same spot and then later plant on top of it, or should I dig it up after a few weeks and spread it throughout the garden?
As long as you allow the proper amount of time for the compost to become like soil, you can plant on top of your compost (two weeks to two months – depending on climate and soil conditions.) If you plant too soon, your scraps will be highly acidic as they decompose, possibly damaging tender roots of new plants. An alternative is to dig it up after the several weeks and spread it throughout the garden.
Will animals find the buried fermented product?
If you have properly fermented your food waste and buried it in the soil with at least 8 inches of soil over the top, the animals will not find the material attractive. Before you cover over the fermented product, mix some soil in with it to help accelerate the second and final conversion to nutrient soil.
Can I use Bokashi culture mix with my kitty litter?
Yes. If you add a handful of Bokashi culture mix to the kitty litter each week, it will greatly help in reducing the odors of ammonia and waste in the litter. You can then ferment (pickle) the litter mixing it with leaves and other organic debris and use this product in the soil for ornamental plants. Do not put this material in your vegetable garden. There is no harm for your pet in using bokashi powder in the litter.