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Bokashi is a composting system that you can do right inside your kitchen with two buckets. The term Bokashi is a Japanese word meaning “fermented organic matter”.
Bokashi bins work by using a fermentation process, a system designed to work in pairs of buckets. Add food scraps to the first bucket with a sprinkling of bokashi active bran, push the material down and seal the lid. Keep doing this until the bucket is full and then use the second bucket.
The fermentation process will take approximately 2-3 weeks, after which you will have a liquid collected in the bottom bin, which can be diluted and used as a fertilizer for your plants.
Either bury the contents, which rapidly breaks down in your soil and makes great organic fertiliser or add to your compost heap to accelerate the composting process. Every so often you will need to buy more bokashi active bran.
Step by Step guide to using Bokashi, with Paul Konig of Hereford
Paul has been successfully using a Bokashi composting system for four years to compost all his food waste, which includes meat (but not the bones). Bokashi is a two part process that uses both anaerobic and aerobic bacteria combining 5 types of micro-organisms.
- Two specially designed 18 Liter air tight buckets.
- Bokashi active bran.
- Collect food scraps, all types including both meat and veg, but no bones. Small amounts of dairy and cooking fats are permissible.
- Carefully chop scraps up first to increase the surface area and speed up the process. Note that chopping is not essential, but helps.
- Add a 3 centimeter layer to your first Bokashi bucket (which is already in use).
- Press the recently chopped materials to squeeze out the air.
- Sprinkle a handful of Bokashi active bran over the new material.
- Close lid to create air tight seal.
- Continue to add new material to repeat the process until full. Leave the sealed containers for 14 – 21 days to allow bran to fully penetrate the bucket’s contents. During this time start off your second bin using the same process.
- During the process, remember to open the tap every two days to drain the liquid. This liquid is very rich in micro organisms and when diluted 1 to 30 parts water (preferably rain water) acts as a bug deterrent for plants, plant feed and as a drain cleaner that is safe to use in septic tanks.
- Your end product is a great organic fertilizer which you can dig into your soil or add to your compost bin. Adding completed Bokashi to your compost bin can speed up the process by 25%.
- To use the end product in your soil, dig it into the ground at a depth of about 20cm ensuring good contact with soil and air. Leave for 2 weeks for micro-organisms to be active and return soil to a neutral pH, before planting. In winter you may need to leave for another week or so.
The Bokashi system doesn’t actually compost the food, but infuses the waste with Effective Microbes (Ems).
Ems are a mixture of bacteria and fungi which when mixed with the other ingredients (bran and molasses) and scattered over your food waste, will ferment it.
There are no rules about storage temperature, but generally the hotter the better.
It’s important to drain off the liquid to avoid smells and to prevent contents from becoming soggy.
In the first part of the process in the Bokashi bucket, the micro-organisms work anaerobically (without air) and in the second part when you add the mix to your soil or compost bin it works aerobically (with air).
Because the buckets are airtight they don’t smell and don’t attract flies or vermin.