Bokashi Composting: A Convenient Way To Turn Kitchen Scraps Into Compost

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It is safe, convenient, and beneficially deals with your kitchen waste. The simple process of bokashi composting has made a long-drawn-out process simple, flexible, relatively clean, that gives you rich, organic manure and gets rid of your organic waste.

This scrap to soil process is called Bokashi, which is Japanese for ‘fermented organic matter.’ Bokashi composting is a quick, safe, and convenient way to compost in your kitchen, garage, or the tiny confines of an apartment using a specific group of microorganisms.

bokashi composting

The process involves anaerobically fermenting all the food scraps from your kitchen, including dairy and meat. As the process takes place in a closed and controlled system, insects or any odor are controlled. This makes it perfectly ideal for confined settings.

The bokashi method takes place quickly, with compost ready to be integrated into your garden or flowerpots in around 2 weeks.

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While this process is quite popular in many parts of the world, it has remained relatively unknown in North America.

The Background Of Bokashi Composting

The earliest form of bokashi composting is believed to have been practiced in ancient Korea. The waste is fermented directly in the soil with the use of native bacteria that has been carefully prepared for an environment devoid of free oxygen. But it was the Effective method of Composting using Microorganisms developed by Teruo Higa in 1982 that became popular worldwide. Another Korean method of modernized horticulture uses fermentation through indigenous microorganisms and other local elements.

Getting Started With Bokashi Composting

Getting the host medium right is the secret to the perfect bokashi composting. The host medium should be organic grain or substances that are similar to it, like rice, bran, wheat mill waste, mushroom growth waste, sawdust, or dried.

The medium is then inoculated with microbes that are beneficial and can flourish in an oxygen-starved and acidic environment. These also do not give out the odor that is produced in a natural or uncontrolled environment.

To make the inoculant (the kick-starter of the process), you will need to start with a brew that attracts the right strains of bacteria. The bost material is then immersed in the brew. This allows the microbes to ferment.

The addition of molasses infuses a source of energy and the microbes reproduce vigorously for a few days. As soon as the fermentation process is completed, the host is packaged in a dried condition that can be stored for extended periods.

Three strains of bacteria are involved in the complete process. The first is the yeast (Saccharomyces spp.), lactic acid-producing bacteria (Lactobacillus spp.), and the purple or phototrophic non-sulfuric bacteria (Rhodopseudomonas spp.).

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The above types of bacteria, or those similar to them, are active in organisms that we are familiar with, including silage and yogurt. Silage is a fermented form of hay used as livestock feed. They have a sour smell, but it is nowhere close to the foul smell that emanates from regular anaerobic processes.

The bacteria that is a part of the commercial process of bokashi composting is present naturally all around. That makes it easy for us to initiate the process at home without commercial support, such as the purchase of a bokashi inoculant.

An article by a couple of horticulturists from Hawaii guides you through the process of cultivating our strain of micro-organisms similar to the type used in commercial bokashi composting.

Several Asian countries have for centuries followed the practice of collecting kitchen and other similar waste and culturing it through microorganisms that occur naturally in the soil. It minimizes the need for the addition of inorganic fertilizers to the soil.

The Complete Process Of Bokashi Composting

Even though bokashi is linked to the anaerobic process of composting, it is also effective when added to aerobic compost piles or soil.

Bokashi composting is quite inexpensive compared to other processes. You will need a basic bokashi bucket, which is a plastic container with a close-fitting lid fitted with a spigot to let the leachate run. The inoculated bran is the only additional equipment required for the bokashi composting.

Coat the kitchen waste every day with a sprinkling of bokashi and stuff them into the bin. Close the lid tightly after adding a little bran. Pressing a plate helps seal out the air at the top of the bucket.

bokashi composting

Breaking up large pieces of waste like bones into manageable pieces will help accelerate the process. Skipping the process will only add a few days to it. A comprehensively fermented mush remains after the process is completed.

Keep the full bin tightly sealed and away from sunlight for around 10 days. The excess liquid should be drained out and can be used as fertilizer, or for preventing the build-up of slime in the drain, pines, and also septic systems.

A couple of weeks later, the waste inside the tub has to be meticulously pickled, and the contents emptied into an uncultivated patch in your garden.

The bokashi composting process is anaerobic and has to be kept free from oxygen for the process to succeed, and to complete quickly. You need to be alert to any foul smell as it will indicate that the compost has decayed and not fermented as desired.

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As no sulfuric acid is produced during the anaerobic process, the foul stench associated with outdoor piles of muck is absent. This is ensured by the addition of yeast, and other sources of lactic acid, and the lack of oxygen in the whole process.

The pre-compost should be set aside for a further 10 days before the mixture is done, and is added to the garden. The bokashi composting method achieves in a couple of weeks, which could take months in an outdoor composting heap.

This composting method scores for its simplicity and convenience in an enclosed living space. But it is not an instant process and each of the steps from gathering, to cultivation, brewing, and inoculation requires patience for it to be successful. And accounting for all the processes, it should take you 5 weeks before you are ready to use the compost in your garden.

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