Green Living with Viv - Bokashi Composting - 25 June
Composting Indoors with the Bokashi Method
- This method of composting especially suits apartment dwellers, or people with limited outdoor space.
- Also offices, schools, restaurants or anyone who wants to reuse their food scraps.
- The bins can be stored indoors, in a kitchen pantry, with no odour or mess.
- Bokashi is a generic Japanese term for fermented organic matter. (Food has been fermented in clay pots for centuries in Japan where special recipes for this process handed down within families).
- Bokashi compost can be made from everyday kitchen waste that is cut up into small pieces, and sprinkled with a special mix of effective microorgnisms (EM) in bran flakes.
- These EM pickle the food waste and increase the nutritional value via fermentation.
- It occurs in an anaerobic (without air) environment in a sealed container.
- Once the food waste has been pickled sufficiently, it can be
dug into the garden and it helps greatly increase soil fertility
and range of healthy microorgnisms which assist in healthy plant
growth, as well as helping to suppress any disease creating
See www.bokashi.co.nz for more information.
- Commercial Bokashi bins are available but you could also make your own by using two fitting bins - the bottom bin allowing a 10cm drainage area in the bottom, the top bin with holes in the bottom and an airtight fitting lid.
- Sprinkle 1 tbsp of the Bokashi EM inoculated bran on the bottom of the top container.
- Add 2 litres of food scraps (keep a 2 litre ice-cream container on the bench and empty it when full into the bin).
- Add another tbsp of EM bran and press firmly to exclude air and compress (the top of the ice-cream container is great for this as it has rounded corners that fit the Bokashi container).
- Ensure the airtight lid is replaced.
- The system is working well if there is sweet pickle smell and the food isn't breaking down (decomposing).
- Start a second bin while the first full one is set aside for 10 days -2 weeks to process before emptying.
- Only use food waste that is reasonably dry - don't use any liquids.
- The bacteria extracts liquids from the food and this drains into the lower chamber through the holes.
- This liquid is highly nutritive for plants - dilute it 1:100 with water and use on the garden or pot plants (2 tbsp juice to five litres of water).
- For foliage dilute to between 1: 500 - 1: 1000 i.e. 1 - 2 teaspoons to five litres of water and spray over foliage to form a film over the leaves.
- Can tip it neat down the sink/toilet/shower and it will help digest any inside pipe scum and enhance the septic tank efficacy.
Important points to remember
- Use only fresh food waste, don't allow it to decompose first.
- No liquids.
- Remove juice from lower container every 2-3 days and use ASAP for maximum strength.
- When full, set aside for approx 10 days -2weeks and then dig into the garden, mix with some soil and cover.
- You can plant over the waste in about 1 week, or it can be added to a compost heap to rev it up.
- Can also be added to worm farms once fermentation is complete.
- Nutritional value of the food waste is retained as there is no heating in the bins and no methane is produced. (No smell or excess carbon produced).
- An average household produces 500-700kg of food waste each year.
- Bokashi systems can help use this valuable waste to improve soil health and nutrition as well as reducing landfill volume.
- Costs around 70-90 cents per week to run.
- On average it takes a 15 litre bin to fill in 7-10 days, a bag of the EM lasts about 8-10 weeks.
- Councils over NZ are embracing this method of composting - Christchurch City Council's "Urban Composting" guide; Greater Wellington Regional Council's bokashi bins guide; Ministry for the Environment's Sustainability bokashi guide; Create Your Own Eden's bokashi guide.