What is Bokashi Composting: A Comprehensive Guide

A man putting food scraps into a bin

Source: Freepik

Composting is a popular method used to turn food and yard waste into nutrient-rich soil. While traditional composting requires a large space, regular turning, and proper management, Bokashi composting provides a simpler and faster alternative. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at Bokashi composting, how it works, and its benefits.

What is Bokashi composting?

Bokashi composting is a method of composting that relies on beneficial microorganisms to ferment food waste instead of breaking it down through traditional composting methods. Bokashi composting originates from Japan, where the word “bokashi” means “fermented organic matter.” This process is an anaerobic process, which means that it takes place in the absence of oxygen.

How does Bokashi composting work?

A pile of compost-Bokashi composting

Bokashi composting relies on a mixture of food waste, Bokashi bran, and beneficial microorganisms to ferment the food waste. Bokashi bran is a mixture of bran, molasses, and water infused with beneficial microorganisms such as Lactobacillus bacteria and yeast. When the Bokashi bran is added to food waste in an airtight container, the microorganisms break down the food waste, releasing nutrients and organic matter.

What are the benefits of Bokashi composting?

Bokashi composting has several benefits, including:

  • Faster composting time: Bokashi composting takes about 2-4 weeks to complete, which is significantly faster than traditional composting methods.
  • Smaller space requirement: Bokashi composting can be done in small spaces, making it ideal for apartment dwellers and those with limited outdoor space.
  • No turning required: Unlike traditional composting, Bokashi composting does not require turning, which saves time and effort.
  • Odor control: The anaerobic fermentation process of Bokashi composting reduces unpleasant odors commonly associated with traditional composting.

What can you compost using the Bokashi method?

You can compost most food waste using the Bokashi method, including fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, and grains. However, you should avoid adding large bones, citrus peels, and oils to your Bokashi bin, as they can slow down the fermentation process.

How to start Bokashi composting?

Bokashi Composting in less than 5 MINUTES
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To start Bokashi composting, you will need:

  • A Bokashi bin – This is a special type of compost bin designed for Bokashi composting. It’s airtight, preventing odors from escaping and keeping flies and other pests out. Bokashi bins come in various sizes and shapes, so you can choose one that best fits your needs.
  • Bokashi bran – This is a mixture of bran, molasses, and beneficial microorganisms that help break down organic matter. You can either purchase Bokashi bran online or at a garden center, or you can make your own using the steps outlined earlier in this article.
  • Food waste – Bokashi composting is an excellent way to compost all types of food waste, including meat, dairy, and oily foods. However, it’s best to avoid adding large bones or excessive amounts of liquids, as they can slow down the composting process.
  • Newspaper or cardboard – You will need to line the bottom of your Bokashi bin with newspaper or cardboard to absorb any excess moisture.
  • A compost bin or outdoor space – After your Bokashi bin is full, you will need to transfer the contents to a traditional compost bin or bury it in the soil. If you don’t have outdoor space, you can also use the compost for indoor plants or give it to a friend who has a garden.

Once you have all the necessary items, you’re ready to start Bokashi composting. Simply follow the steps outlined in this article to set up your Bokashi composting system and start composting your food waste. With a little effort, you can turn your kitchen scraps into nutrient-rich compost that will help your plants thrive.

How to make Bokashi bran?

Bokashi bran can be purchased online or at garden centers. However, you can also make your own Bokashi bran using the following steps:

  1. Mix 1kg of bran, 50ml of molasses, and 500ml of water in a large bucket.
  2. Mix the ingredients until the bran is evenly coated with the molasses-water mixture.
  3. Allow the mixture to ferment for about a week, stirring it daily.
  4. Once the mixture has a sweet-sour smell, it’s ready to use as Bokashi bran.

How to set up a Bokashi composting system?

Setting up a Bokashi composting system is easy. Here’s how:

  1. Get a Bokashi bin with an airtight lid. You can purchase one online or at a garden center.
  2. Line the bottom of the bin with newspaper or cardboard to absorb any excess moisture.
  3. Add a layer of Bokashi bran to the bottom of the bin.
  4. Start adding food waste to the bin, layering it with Bokashi bran.
  5. Press down the food waste to remove any air pockets.
  6. Close the lid of the bin tightly.

How often should you add food waste to the Bokashi bin?

A composting pile-Bokashi Composting

You can add food waste to the Bokashi bin as often as you like. However, it’s best to wait until the bin is full before harvesting the compost. The ideal time for harvesting the compost is when the bin is no longer producing a foul smell.

How to harvest Bokashi compost?

To harvest Bokashi compost, follow these steps:

  1. Let the Bokashi bin sit for two weeks after it’s full.
  2. Transfer the contents of the Bokashi bin to a traditional compost bin or bury it in the soil.
  3. Allow the compost to mature for two to four weeks before using it in your garden.

Can you use Bokashi compost for indoor plants?

Yes, you can use Bokashi compost for indoor plants. However, it’s best to dilute it with water before using it, as it can be too strong for some plants.

How to troubleshoot common Bokashi composting issues?

Here are some common issues you may encounter when Bokashi composting and how to troubleshoot them:

  • Foul smell: This could indicate that the bin is not airtight. Ensure that the lid is tightly closed.
  • Mold: This could indicate that the bin is too moist. Add more Bokashi bran to absorb excess moisture.
  • Slow fermentation: This could indicate that the bin is too cold. Move the bin to a warmer location.

How to maintain your Bokashi composting system?

Maintaining your Bokashi composting system is easy. Here are some tips:

  • Keep the bin airtight to prevent unpleasant odors.
  • Add Bokashi bran regularly to promote fermentation.
  • Store the bin in a warm location to promote fermentation.

Bokashi composting vs. traditional composting

Bokashi composting and traditional composting have several differences. Bokashi composting is faster, requires less space, and doesn’t produce unpleasant odors. However, traditional composting produces a larger quantity of compost and can compost a wider range of materials. Both of these methods are used in regenerative gardening, to restore soil health and give the plants some extra nutrients.

Read more about Regenerative Gardening.

Is Bokashi composting right for you?

Bokashi composting is an excellent option for those who have limited outdoor space and want to compost their food waste quickly and easily. However, it may not be the best option for those who produce a large amount of food waste or want to compost a wider range of materials.

If you’re interested in trying composting in your garden check out how to make compost in your backyard.