Easily Make Bokashi Compost For Your Home Garden

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If you’ve found this unique article, you’ve likely been seeking a practical solution for your cooking and kitchen scraps that is efficient, space-saving, eco-friendly, and faster than traditional decomposition methods. In this article, you’ll discover how to make Bokashi compost and why it’s the ideal option that meets all these requirements while utilizing a clever microbial process that produces excellent compost ready for your soil in less time.

Bokashi turns food scraps, such as often overlooked items like meat and dairy, into nutrient-rich compost using an inoculated bran you can purchase or make with microorganisms, like lactic acid bacteria, yeast, and actinomycetes. This method is perfect for both rural and urban dwellers with limited space. It involves a compact system using a bucket with an airtight lid and drainage plate for efficient fermentation. The outcome is Bokashi pre-compost, partially decomposed and ready to enhance soil fertility and microbial activity.

gardener spreading mulch and composting into trenched garden bed outdoors

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Whether you are an expert or new to composting, I will guide you step-by-step, covering all the “secrets” of the unique Bokashi practice. We’ll cover the basics and perks of using this unique method, its pros and cons, along with practical, often overlooked information on why this process can be the best solution so you can crush your composting routine. This article will be your ultimate guide to successful Bokashi composting!

Humble Highlights

  • Discover these critical benefits of Bokashi composting that can easily boost the growth of your plants AND implement this unique process today so you can give your garden a distinct advantage throughout the year!
  • Stop allowing your garden plants to wilt from lack of nutrition by discovering the 4 creative ways you can use Bokashi compost in your green space so you can apply it in a way that suits your unique needs.
  • Save time with this simple step-by-step guide to creating your first Bokashi compost pile and the necessary equipment to maximize your success, decrease household waste, AND avoid the 4 most common issues first-time composters face! 

The Bokashi Approach – Speeding Up Composting With Microorganisms

Here are the basics on how to get started with Bokashi and why it’s an excellent way to convert waste into plant food. The Bokashi approach stands out from other methods as it uses a specialized ingredient you can purchase from your local store or make at home. 

how to make bokashi

Faster Fermentation With Bacteria

Bokashi is a Japanese word for fermented organic matter produced without oxygen. The primary component is an inoculated ingredient called Bokashi bran infused with beneficial microorganisms such as lactic acid bacteria (LAB), yeast, and actinomycetes that speed up decomposition.

The actinomycete breaks down complex organic compounds, digesting tougher materials like lignin and cellulose from plants. Interstingly, it is neither categorized as a hot nor cold form of composting because it takes place even without significant heat. Instead, it is better described as anaerobic fermentation. 1

Bokashi Pre-Compost Production

The Bokashi and scraps mixture is layered in a sealed container, typically called a Bokashi bucket. It undergoes fermentation, and after the phase is complete, the composting produces the pre-compost. It can be integrated into the soil or added to a regular composting heap, allowing the material to undergo the final stage with oxygen to complete the process.

bokashi bucket composting

Benefits Of The Bokashi Method

This method presents numerous advantages as an indoor method, making it appealing for those seeking a swift solution to recycling natural waste.

  • Minimal Space Requirements and Quick Decomposition Rate: Bokashi composters are compact and only require a little space, benefiting those with limited room. It works fast, taking approximately two weeks to expedite after the waste is buried or added to a compost heap.
  • Uses a Wide Range of Food Scraps: Unlike traditional composting methods, the Bokashi process accepts a broader range of waste, including meat, dairy, and oily items. 2
  • Reduced Odor and Pests: Since the Bokashi container is airtight, it discourages pests and odors, making it suitable for indoor set-ups.
  • No Frequent Turning Is Required: The sealed container doesn’t need frequent turning, as is often required in regular composting production.

Key Differences Of Bokashi And Traditional Composting 

If you are wondering how Bokashi is different from the traditional composting method, here are the key differences between the two processes:

Bokashi CompostingTraditional Composting
ProcessAnaerobic process that relies on effective microorganisms to process food trimmingsAerobic process, requiring oxygen to break down organic matter leading to the production of heat
Materials AcceptedBroader range of materials (meat, dairy, and oily items)Excludes meat, dairy, and oily materials. It relies on a mix of “greens” (nitrogen-rich materials) and “browns” (carbon-rich materials)
Speed of DecompositionFasterSlower
Odor and PestsReduced odor and pest attraction due to air tight containersProduces more odors and attracts pests. Turning the pile helps mitigate these issues
Space RequirementsRequires little spaceRequires more space

With a better understanding of this unique and productive composting, let’s now expand on how to apply it to your backyard garden!

Humble Tip:
Consider your available space and lifestyle when deciding between Bokashi and traditional composting. Bokashi makes an excellent choice for limited indoor spaces, offering a convenient solution for natural plant nutrition. On the other hand, the conventional way is well-suited for outdoor use, perfect for those who prefer a low-maintenance approach.

Creative Ways To Utilize Bokashi In The Garden

While the conventional method involves burying the fermented Bokashi directly into the soil, alternative approaches may interest you.

how to use bokashi

Bury In Compost Trenches And Mix With Garden Soil Or Regular Pile

Dig compost trenches in a garden bed, fill them with Bokashi waste, cover them with soil, and layer until full. Mix the compostable waste with your soil before planting seeds or seedlings directly into the enriched soil. This process accelerates waste decomposition, enhances soil with nutrients, improves structure, and reduces odors. 3

If you’re working with Bokashi pre-compost, you can introduce your plants directly to the soil. However, if the initial product has yet to undergo anaerobic digestion, let it mature for 2 to 4 weeks before adding seeds or seedlings. This waiting period is crucial to balance acidity, ensuring the planting material is suitable for seeds without being overly acidic.

how to use bokashi in the garden

Composting With Worms

A different type of composting is vermicomposting. Add enough Bokashi bran to the worm bin, layering it with pre-compost. The worms will work hard on your behalf and transform it into nutrient-rich vermicompost. Be sure to harvest the worm castings (worm waste) for a potent soil amendment.

Apply As Top Dressing

Sprinkle bran on the soil’s surface around established plants to diversify the microorganisms in the ground. You can also use it as a mulch that can act as an insulating layer, helping to regulate soil temperature.

how does bokashi work

Generate A Bokashi Tea

Collect the liquid that drains from the Bokashi composting bin, known as Bokashi tea. Dilute this liquid with water at a ratio of approximately 1:100 and employ it as a nutrient-rich plant fertilizer. When diluted, it provides an immediate nutrient boost and enhances plant nutrient absorption.

Apply the Bokashi tea as a foliar spray directly onto leaves or pour it around the base of plants. Optimal usage occurs during the growing season for enhanced plant growth as part of routine maintenance (every two weeks), particularly in drought periods, to counteract potential nutrient leaching. 4

Humble Tip:
You’ll want to ensure direct contact between the Bokashi and the roots of your plants to maximize its benefits for increased soil health and better plant growth.

Bokashi composting may not be a household name for many backyard gardeners, but those growers who follow the practice reap the many benefits this unique method provides. Check out the video below, which explains this innovative process and how to efficiently “prime” your kitchen scraps for optimal use in your green space!

Optimizing Your Bokashi Experience: Set-Up Essentials

Before you begin your Bokashi journey, it’s crucial to weigh the essential considerations. These factors will guide you and help you make informed decisions, preventing potential pitfalls.

Secure A Bin With Airtight Cap

It would help to use an airtight container, which should ideally have a drainage system to manage excess liquid. This airtight lid serves a dual purpose: to contain the contents securely and create the necessary anaerobic environment. 5

how to use bokashi compost

Select What To Include And Let The Food Waste Ferment

Fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, eggshells, and other plant-based cooking waste are excellent choices. You can also add cooked food with small amounts of meat and dairy. Avoid including large or woody items, plastics, metals, and other non-biodegradable materials because they can slow the process and resist anaerobic breakdown.

Humble Tip:
It is recommended to incorporate softer and smaller materials into the Bokashi system. This approach enhances the efficiency of the fermentation process, ensuring that beneficial microorganisms can effectively break down the organic matter.

By selecting finer materials, you create an environment that promotes faster and more thorough fermentation, leading to nutrient-rich Bokashi compost for your garden.

Work On The Perfect Spot

Find a designated spot for your setup. The area should be convenient for daily access yet inconspicuous to maintain a neat and organized living environment. Consider factors such as temperature and accessibility and create a setup that aligns with your daily routine that’s convenient for you.

Maximizing Your Kitchen Waste With The Ultimate Bokashi Bucket

The Bokashi bin is unlike your ordinary compost bin because it ferments faster, produces a liquid juice, and does not require turning. You’ll need suitable materials to reap the benefits, and follow these simple steps.

how to make bokashi at home

Materials Needed:

  1. A bucket with a tight-sealing cover. You can also purchase a quality Bokashi starter kit.
  2. Feel free to use other containers as long as they are airtight.
  3. Bokashi inoculant (a mixture of bran and beneficial microorganisms)
  4. Kitchen scraps and organic waste

Step 1: Prepare The Bucket And The Drainage Plate

Ready the bucket (or your chosen airtight container) and ensure it is clean before starting. Place a drainage plate at the bottom of the container and collect any excess liquid that may be produced. 6

how does the bokashi compost work

Step 2: Layer With Bran

Begin by placing a layer of bran at the bottom of the bucket. Alternatively, you can use liquid EM-1 to introduce beneficial microorganisms. 

EM-1 (Effective Microorganisms-1) is a microbial inoculant containing a specific blend of microorganisms, including lactic acid, yeast, and photosynthetic bacteria, that initiate anaerobic digestion and suppress harmful pathogens in the soil.

Step 3: Add A Variety Of Kitchen Leftovers And Layer Again

Add food, such as fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, eggshells, and other natural waste, into your container.

If the pieces are large, consider cutting or chopping to reduce their size, accelerating the decomposition process. Then, generously sprinkle bran on top after adding a layer of natural waste.

Humble Tip:
After each addition, press down on the food waste and sprinkle a thin layer of Bokashi bran. This compression practice helps create an airtight environment, helping fermentation. Repeat this process until the bin is full.

Step 4: Ensure It’s Anoxic (No oxygen)

Close the lid of the bucket tightly to create an airtight environment. Check that the top has an excellent seal to prevent air from entering.

Step 5: Store And Collect Bokashi Compost Tea

Place the sealed container in a cool, dark place. Avoid exposing it to direct sunlight or extreme temperatures. Check the drainage plate regularly and drain off any accumulated liquid. 7

Step 6: Prepare For Final Stage

Once the bucket is full and the initial stage is complete, it is ready for the final process. However, even though the material has undergone a significant breakdown, it still needs to be completed. It can now be buried in the soil or added to a traditional compost pile to undergo the final aerobic stage.

Four Common Issues Of Bokashi System

Although Bokashi composting is unique and practical, there are several issues you should be aware of. Here are some potential drawbacks associated with this home composting method that you must consider.

how long does bokashi take to decompose

Need For Premium Bokashi Bran And Equipment

Bokashi requires an inoculated bran and a mixture of beneficial microorganisms. If you choose to invest, it can be an ongoing expense, and producing your own bran may require some time and effort. The Bokashi kits can come in 1-bin or 2-bin packages.

You may also need to purchase another specialized container that can be pricier than regular bins. However, this is usually a one-time expense.

Final Step Required

The Bokashi waste produced must undergo a final step (aerobic decomposition) for full maturation. This additional step might be inconvenient for those seeking a single-step composting solution.

what are the pros and cons of bokashi composting

Limited Capacity And Suitability To Yard Waste

The buckets may have limited capacity, especially for households generating a lot of cooking leftovers. Managing multiple buckets or larger containers may be required. Large amounts of yard waste, such as abundant leaves and branches, may not suit your composting needs. 8

Other Concerns On Molds And Drainage 

Checking the drainage plate for excess liquid and ensuring airtight seals can be time-consuming. In some cases, mold growth can occur if the bucket is not sealed correctly or there is excess moisture.

Humble Tip:
Although Bokashi composting is nothing new, it is a novel idea to many home growers. Even though the process is straightforward, practice patience and take your time layering your compost, especially if you’re new to this kind of decomposition.

Conclusion

Bokashi efficiently produces a high-quality yet cost-effective kitchen compost in the quest for an eco-friendly way to compost at home. We’ve explored how it works without air, discussed pros and cons, and discovered some handy tricks to make it work.

The bran, the primary ingredient, is infused with beneficial microorganisms such as lactic acid bacteria, yeast, and actinomycetes, which ferment organic waste, producing a nutrient-rich material for your soil, indoors or out.

Bokashi also produces less odor and attracts fewer pests due to its airtight container, which makes it ideal for indoor gardening. It might be limited when used in outdoor gardens and needs careful maintenance and monitoring.

From a clever Japanese idea, Bokashi is used by folks everywhere for the many good reasons we’ve listed here in this article. It’s like a ticket for quickly composting all your food scraps into plant food and only occupying minimal space. So, let’s get started on this green adventure – one kitchen scrap at a time.

Do you presently compost Bokashi style? We’d love to know your story. Drop us a line in the comments below and tell us how long you’ve successfully composted in this unique and innovative way!

SOURCES

  1. National Library Of Medicine, National Center For Biotechnology Information – Optimization Of Bokashi-Composting Process Using Effective Microorganisms-1 In Smart Composting Bin
  2. University Of Vermont, UVM ScholarWorks – The Use Of Bokashi As A Soil Fertility Amendment In Organic Spinach Cultivation
  3. Wikipedia – Bokashi (Horticulture)
  4. Wikipedia – Compost Tea
  5. Maine Organic Farmers And Gardeners – Homemade Bokashi Bucket
  6. Sarhad Journal Of Agriculture – Role Of Organic Manure Bokashi Improving Plant Growth And Nutrition: A Review
  7. Research, Society, And Development – A Bibliographic Review On Bokashi From The Last 20 Years
  8. Arizona Department Of Environmental Quality – Bokashi

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