What is Bokashi Composting?

    Bokashi is a Japanese term that means “fermented organic matter”. Fermentation of organic waste is not a new concept, we as a species have been using ferments for tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of years. Korean farmers have taken inoculates of many species of non aerobic bacteria, and used them to ferment many different things, long before they had the ability to actually see the bacteria. In recent years, the term bokashi has made it to the mainstream. The biggest reason has been because of its applications into indoor composting, and its efficiency.

    Unlike a normal compost pile, a bokashi bucket can compost meat and dairy products as well. I use the term compost loosely here, because it actually pickles the waste. Nonetheless, the end result is the same, usable compost that you can directly add to your garden, flower beds, window greens, worm bin, or any soil that you wish to bring to life. There is a pickle juice associated with this fermentation process as well. It is a highly bio-available nutrient byproduct. It can be diluted and applied, or directly applied to soil. A bokashi bucket can give you usable compost in as little as a month. Traditional compost piles can take much longer, usually on the time scale of 6 months to 2 years to give you a usable compost. With such a shorter time and added benefit of byproducts for growing, bokashi buckets have quickly risen to a favorite composting method for many.

    A bokashi bucket is simple to start for yourself. A five gallon bucket with a spigot attached, and an inoculate, is all you need. If you are not the DIY type, your local garden store may have buckets specifically made for bokashi composting available for sale, as well as bokashi bran to inoculate. If that is not an option, there are many designs online to choose from, as well as  bokashi sources. The spigot should be attached toward the bottom of the bucket so that you can drain off the pickle juice byproduct. This should be done every 3-5 days for your bucket.

    Once you have your bokashi bucket, all you need is organic waste and your bokashi inoculate. Begin by filling your bokashi bucket with organic waste from your kitchen. You then simply add a handful of your bokashi bran to the bucket, possibly a piece of newspaper, and close the lid. Since there are non-aerobic (do not need air to live) bacteria at work in this environment, the newspaper can help to keep air from reaching the top of your organic matter, which would start normal decomposition, bringing with it odor and contaminates for your bucket. Keeping your bokashi bucket closed is also essential for this process to work correctly, once again, because of the non-aerobic bacteria at work. Simply repeat this process of adding waste, inoculate, and newspaper, creating a layer cake of organic pickled waste. Once your bucket is full, you can put the lid on and let it sit, being sure to spigot off the juice, and after a month you can open your bucket, dump it upside down somewhere outside, and apply wherever is needed in your garden or compost pile.

    With current climate science pointing towards our continued warming of the planet, anything each of us can personally do to reduce our waste is much appreciated by our planet and our neighbors. Taking waste that normally ends up in the landfill, and replenishing soil with it, is a first step among many towards living in harmony with our surroundings as a species. Thousands of year old farming techniques are coming to the mainstream in a glorious way, helping the everyday farmer to understand their place in the ecosystem.

   

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