We’ve recently become enthusiastic fans of bokashi composting. If you’re wondering what on earth bokashi is, it’s a Japanese word that translates to something like “fermented, organic matter." Bokashi composting is a style of composting where you put your food scraps in an air-tight bucket and sprinkle ‘bokashi mix’ over the top, repeating this layering process until the Bokashi bucket is full. The bokashi mix is a combination of natural ingredients enriched with helpful micro-organisms that ferment the food scraps - and stops them from going smelly in the bucket. For convenience the bucket is best kept in the kitchen – but our bucket below came outside for a photo opportunity!
You can often buy the bokashi mix (and the bins) from a local hardware store, or eco store. A 5 litre bag of mix lasts us about 3 or 4 months. We find it convenient to have a small bucket on the kitchen sink that we throw food scraps into during the day, and then just empty that bucket into the bokashi bucket at the end of each day and sprinkle a handful of bokashi mix on top.
After a few days or a week, you often start to get some ‘juice’ coming out of the bokashi bin if you open the ‘tap’ at the bottom. This can be used the same as ‘juice’ from worm casting, and diluted with water (about a capful to a 10 litres of water) and applied to plants as a healthy liquid fertiliser.
Once our bokashi bucket is full, we empty it into the compost bin, where it breaks down really quickly – within say a week or two. We find our food scraps which have been in the bokashi bin break down much quicker than just adding them straight to the compost bin, and it’s this fast break-down process that has us sold on bokashi. It means we get compost quicker than we would through our normal composting, and a fast break down of organic materials is good for the environment as slow composting can cause greenhouse gases such as methane. Of course a well managed compost bin can produce compost quite quickly, but with us both working full time and managing planting and harvesting from our garden, we do admit composting is one of our neglected tasks! For us Bokashi is a time saving solution, as it helps with the whole composting process.
You can make bokashi mix from scratch (a quick Google search reveals some good how-to guide) but again that takes a bit of time. Many people also bury their ‘bokashied’ food scraps in the ground, rather than in a compost bin. We find that bokashi composting has an advantage over worm farming as you can add materials that worms are normally a bit sensitive too such as onions and citrus peels (omnivores can even add meat scraps).
If anyone is interested in more about bokashi, G magazine has a good article at http://www.gmagazine.com.au/features/1991/compact-compost, and one of the commercial sellers of the bins has helpful info at http://www.bokashi.com.au.