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Bokashi Composting: The Complete Guide

Are you looking for a way to effectively compost your kitchen scraps and create nutrient-rich soil for plant roots in your urban garden? Look no further than Bokashi composting! This unique, revolutionary technique of composting allows you to quickly break down organic matter into an incredibly rich, usable soil amendment—perfect for growing vegetables, herbs, flowers, and more.The bokashi process offers a space-efficient solution for urban gardeners in the UK who are faced with limited space but still want to maintain a healthy garden. It doesn’t require much room and provides an ideal way to keep your garden thriving.

Discover the secrets to cultivating a flourishing garden in even the most confined spaces. Explore our comprehensive blog post,“The Ultimate Guide to Indoor Gardening,” for invaluable insights and expert tips. Unleash your green thumb and create a thriving oasis indoors!

With our complete guide to Bokashi composting, you’ll learn everything you need to know about getting started with this excellent method of urban gardening. From the basics of what Bokashi is all about to helpful tips for troubleshooting common issues, we’ve got it all covered here. So let’s get started!

bokashi living , kitchen waste , compost bin

Key Takeaways

  • What is Bokasi composting, and how does it work?

  • Choosing the right Bokashi bucket

  • What types of food waste can be used?

  • Step-by-step instructions to get started

  • Troubleshooting common problems with bokashi composting

  • How to use your compost in your garden

 

What is Bokashi Composting and How Does it work?

“Bokashi” is a Japanese word that refers to “fermented organic matter.” Bokashi composting is a technique that transforms food waste and organic waste into nutrient-rich soil butter for your plants. The liquid called bokashi tea makes an excellent fertilizer that can be used for feeding plants. This process, also known as anaerobic composting, harnesses fermentation to create nourishing soil amendments. This method of traditional composting is significantly faster and has the added benefit of being completely odorless. It’s a perfect solution for indoor composting in your home or apartment, ensuring a pleasant environment while effectively turning waste into nutrient-rich compost.

How does the bokashi system work?

Bokashi composting entails layering your kitchen waste with a unique bran containing beneficial, effective microorganisms within a sealed container (bokashi bin). This method creates an oxygen-free environment, allowing anaerobic bacteria micro organisms to swiftly and effectively decompose food scraps. As a result, the composting process becomes more efficient. Furthermore, Bokashi composting presents a convenient and odour-free solution for individuals seeking to compost in their homes or apartments.

Food waste for Bokashi compost bin

What food waste can you expect to ferment in your bokashi bucket?

Bokashi composting is extremely versatile and can easily handle a wide variety of kitchen waste. You can typically ferment the following types of kitchen scraps and organic matter in a Bokashi system:

  1. Fruit and Vegetable Scraps: Peels, cores, seeds, and other fruit and vegetable scraps are suitable for Bokashi composting.
  2. Coffee Grounds and Tea Bags: Used coffee grounds and tea bags, including the paper part, can be added.
  3. Eggshells: Crushed eggshells provide valuable calcium and can be included in the Bokashi system.
  4. Dairy Products: Small amounts of dairy, such as cheese, yogurt, and butter, can be added.
  5. Meat and Fish: Bokashi composting allows for the fermentation of meat and fish scraps, including bones. However, these should be in smaller, manageable pieces.
  6. Bread and Grains: Stale bread, leftover pasta, and other grains can go into the Bokashi bin.
  7. Small Quantities of Cooked Food: While not all cooked food is suitable for Bokashi composting, small amounts can be added. Avoid large quantities of oily or heavily seasoned dishes.
  8. Fats and Oils: Small amounts of fats and oils are generally accepted, but avoid excessive amounts.

Items that are not typically recommended for Bokashi composting include large bones, large quantities of liquid, and highly acidic or salty foods.

The key to successful Bokashi composting is to cut or chop the waste into smaller pieces, which facilitates the fermentation process. Your kichen waste pile should also be layered in the Bokashi bin, and each layer should be coated with the special Bokashi bran containing beneficial microorganisms. Read our blog post Waste No More: What Food Waste To Compost In Your Bokashi Bin

Bokashi composting has numerous advantages compared your traditional pile

Versatility

Bokashi composting is an incredibly versatile method of kitchen waste disposal. It can effectively handle a wide variety of organic materials, including meat, dairy, and cooked foods. This makes it a highly adaptable and efficient solution for managing and recycling kitchen waste.

Speed of Decomposition

The anaerobic fermentation process in Bokashi composting accelerates the breakdown of organic matter, producing compost faster than some traditional composting methods.

Indoor Composting

Unlike traditional compost, composting with a bokashi bucket can be done indoors, making it suitable for those with limited outdoor space or living in urban environments. The airtight containers used in the process help control odors.

Minimal Odor

Unlike certain conventional composting methods that rely on an aerobic process, Bokashi composting is an anaerobic process that generates minimal and gentle odors thanks to its airtight container that facilitates the fermentation process.

Nutrient-Rich Compost

The end product of Bokashi composting is a nutrient-rich compost butter that can be buried in the compost trenches of your garden. The fermented material preserves the nutrients in the organic matter.

Bokashi Tea: Liquid Fertilizer

Bokashi composting generates a nutrient-rich liquid byproduct known as “Bokashi tea.” This liquid, also known as black gold, can be collected and used as a liquid fertilizer for feeding plants.

Space Efficiency

Bokashi bins are compact, and the bins can be easily managed in small spaces, making them suitable for apartment dwellers or those with limited gardening space.

Reduction of Methane Emissions

By diverting organic waste from landfills, Bokashi composting helps reduce methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas produced during the decomposition of organic matter in anaerobic conditions.

Enhanced Soil Structure

Adding Bokashi compost to your garden soil improves its structure, water retention, and aeration. It also introduces beneficial microorganisms that contribute to the overall health of your soil

Easy to Manage

The Bokashi composting method is a straightforward process that requires minimal effort and doesn’t involve the frequent turning or monitoring of compost piles associated with some traditional composting methods.

Top Tip

If you own a worm farm, feed your bokashi compost to your worms; they absolutely love them, and they will create compost and liquid feed far faster than traditionally fed worms. If you do not own a worm farm, you can easily order a Urbalive worm farm from our shop. Also, read our blog Happy Hungry Worms and learn how to setup your Urbalive Worm Farm

Bokashi Compost bin that turns food waste into compost

Choosing the Right Bokashi Bin

When it comes to reducing household food waste, a Bokashi bin is a great solution. But with so many options on the market, it can be tough to know which one is right for you. The first thing to consider is size. Do you have a big family whose food scraps need to be accommodated? If so, a larger bin would be ideal. Another thing to look for is a tight-fitting lid. This will help to keep any odors contained. It’s also important to choose a bin with a strainer at the bottom. This will allow any liquid to drain out, preventing unpleasant smells and mold growth. By taking all of these factors into consideration, you’re sure to choose the perfect Bokashi bin for your household’s needs.

Our Urbalive Bokashi composter bin is a small and compact solution, perfect for small gardens or for composting in apartments. Not only is it stylish and beautiful, but it is also conveniently small and easy to store. Its aesthetic appeal makes it a delightful addition to any living space, encouraging you to compost with pleasure.

Bokashi Bucket in kitchen to turn food waste into feremented organic matter for composting

Step-by-Step Instructions for Bokashi Composting

  1. Purchase a Bokashi Bin: You can find one at your local garden center or you can order it from our online shop
  2. Collect Food Scraps: Gather food scraps from your kitchen. This can include meat, dairy, and grains, which are not typically recommended for other types of composting.
  3. Fill the Bokashi Bin: Start filling your Bokashi bin with the collected food scraps.
  4. Add Bokashi Bran: After each layer of food waste, sprinkle a mixture of Bokashi bran and water. Bokashi bran is a special ingredient that aids in the fermentation process.
  5. Seal the Bin: Once you’ve added a layer of food waste and Bokashi bran, seal the bin tightly. This helps to create an anaerobic environment, which is necessary for the composting process.
  6. Let it sit. Allow the bin to sit in direct sunlight for two weeks. During this time, you can continue to add new layers of food waste and Bokashi bran as needed
  7. Compost is Ready: After two weeks, your compost should be ready. It will have a sweet and sour smell, similar to pickles.
  8. Use the Compost: You can now use your compost. Either bury it directly in your garden or add it to a compost pile.

     

Bokashi bin with kitchen scraps and bokashi inoculant

Tips for Troubleshooting Common Problems with Bokashi Composting

Unpleasant Odor

  • Problem: A foul odor is coming from the Bokashi bin.
  • Solution: Ensure that the container is properly sealed after each use. Check the drainage system if your bin has one. If odors persist, add more Bokashi-inoculated bran to neutralize smells and maintain a balanced carbon-to-nitrogen ratio.

Mold Growth

  • Problem: Mold appears on the surface of the Bokashi waste.
  • Solution: Mold can develop if the waste is exposed to air. Make sure to press down the waste layers firmly to expel air, and add more Bokashi bran to reduce moisture levels.

Excessive Liquid

  • Problem: Too much liquid is accumulating in the Bokashi bin.
  • Solution: If there’s excess liquid, it may indicate too much moisture. Add more absorbent material, like shredded newspaper or cardboard, to balance moisture levels. Ensure proper drainage if your bin has this feature.

Incomplete Fermentation

  • Problem: The waste doesn’t seem to be fermenting properly.
  • Solution: Check the Bokashi bran expiration date; it may have lost its effectiveness. Ensure that the waste is cut into small pieces and that each layer is thoroughly coated with Bokashi bran. Maintain an airtight seal to create the anaerobic conditions needed for fermentation.

Pest Issues

  • Problem: Insects or pests are attracted to the Bokashi bin.
  • Solution: Make sure the bin is sealed tightly to prevent pests. If you’re burying the fermented waste, bury it deep enough to discourage pests. Avoid adding large amounts of meat, dairy, or oily foods, as these can attract unwanted pests.

Slow Fermentation

  • Problem: The fermentation process seems slower than expected.
  • Solution: Ensure that the waste is adequately covered with Bokashi bran, and maintain the airtight seal. Warmer temperatures generally speed up fermentation, so placing the bin in a warmer location may help.

Remember that Bokashi composting is a dynamic process, and you may need to make adjustments based on the specific conditions and organic materials used. Regular monitoring and adjustments can help troubleshoot issues and ensure successful Bokashi composting.

How to use bokashi compost in your garden or indoor plants

To effectively use Bokashi compost in your garden, follow these steps:

  • Dig a trench or hole where you plan to plant or around existing plants.
  • Place the Bokashi pre-compost in the trench, spreading it evenly around the root zones.
  • Cover the Bokashi compost with a layer of soil to integrate it into the soil.
  • Water the area well to help the microorganisms establish and spread.
  • Allow the Bokashi compost to decompose and mature before planting or adding more compost.

When repotting or adding soil to indoor plants

  • Mix Bokashi pre-compost with potting soil in a 1:10 ratio.
  • Water thoroughly to aid the integration of beneficial microorganisms.
  • For existing plants, apply a small amount of Bokashi pre-compost as a top dressing and water lightly.
  • For ongoing maintenance, periodically add Bokashi compost without overdoing it.

     

Want to learn more about indoor gardening? Read our blog post, Why Self-watering Pots are the Future of Urban Gardening? and How To Grow Tomatoes at Home

compost and soil for small gardens

Final Thoughts on Bokashi Composting

After having explored the concept of Bokashi composting in depth, we are left with a few final reflections on this intriguing method of organic waste management. First and foremost, the simplicity and effectiveness of the technique is truly remarkable. By utilizing microorganisms to break down food scraps and other biodegradable materials, Bokashi composting offers an eco-friendly solution to reducing waste while simultaneously creating nutrient-rich soil for gardening. Moreover, the ability to conduct Bokashi composting indoors (even in urban areas) adds to its appeal for those seeking sustainable living options. However, it’s essential to remember that Bokashi composting is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to reducing our environmental impact. While we may not be able to control larger systems, we can all do our part by making small but impactful changes in our daily lives.

woman and child woth bokashi composter bin for bokashi composting by urbalive

Bokashi Composting FAQ

What is bokashi bran?

Bokashi bran, also known as Bokashi activator or Bokashi mix, is a key component in the Bokashi composting process. It is a specially formulated mixture that typically includes wheat bran, wheat germ, and rice bran as a base, along with beneficial microorganisms such as lactic acid bacteria, yeast, and phototrophic bacteria.

Can I make my own bokashi inoculant?

Yes, it is possible to make your own Bokashi inoculant at home. While commercial Bokashi bran is specifically formulated with a blend of microorganisms to ensure effective fermentation, you can create a basic version using a mix of common ingredients: wheat bran, wheat germ,molasses and EMG

How do I use my bokashi pre-compost?

You can bury the compost directly in your garden beds, compost pile, potting containers, or soil factory. Within just two weeks, the pre-compost will seamlessly integrate into the soil web. As a result, plant roots will flourish, nourished by the newly introduced bokashi microbes and the valuable nutrients from food waste.