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Bokashi

Never ones to miss out on a useful technology we at The Kitchen Garden Company have begun to investigate the world of Bokashi. Although it has been around for a number of years weBokashi were surprised we hadn’t heard about it sooner. We learned about it thanks to the Wiggly Wiggler Podcast from the UK.
Bokashi is both a product and a method. Simply, Bokashi is wheat bran which has been inoculated with molasses, water and a blend of yeasts and bacteria which are helpful rather than harmful. These microbes are both aerobic and anaerobic and can stimulate soil vitality and improve digestion in livestock.

This fermented wheat bran is then used in a composting bucket to pickle and preserve the organic matter you place inside. This differs from normal composting methods in that you don’t need to include paper and other fibrous matter, and that you can compost meats and fish, and other things you wouldn’t normally use due to vermin and odors.

Bokashi You begin by placing a layer of bokashi on the drain grate of a specialized bucket. The drain allows liquids which will turn rancid quickly to be drained away.

Bokashi You then place in your kitchen, office canteen, or restaurant waste, alternating layers with more bokashi.

As the bokashi is wetted by the organic matter, it pickles it and keeps the whole lot from souring.Bokashi

By keeping the top layer of the contents sealed off from the air, you help the anaerobic process until the bucket is filled.Bokashi

Once the bucket is filled, it is sealed up and allowed to ferment for two weeks. Ideally you would be working on filling a second bucket during this time.

Bokashi As the bucket sits you must use the spigot to drain away the liquid every 48 hours. The liquid can be diluted with water and used as a plant fertilizer or poured down the drain–especially helpful if you have a septic tank.

Bokashi Once the two weeks if over you are ready to bury your compost. Dig a trench in the garden, or place directly into your compost pile. You won’t be able to plant directly on top of the site for at least a month, but if you place the bokashi compost down the center of two rows it will feed the rows as the matter decomposes.

Bokashi When the contents of the bucket are tipped into the hole in the ground, be sure to sprinkle some more bokashi over the top. Then cover with soil.

Why use bokashi? For several reasons. Mainly, with bokashi and a bucket fermenter you can turn more kitchen waste in to useable compost. Things like meat scrapes, bones, and fish which normally aren’t composted become viable materials. Secondly, the time frame. Rich organic compost and bioactive soil can be achieved within a month and a half rather than 3 or more months of turning a compost pile.

In addition, infusing your soil with all of these additional microbes you can combat putrid soil conditions and many of the fungi and bugs which thrive in less than ideal situations.

But wait, that’s not all. . . .The wheat bran bokashi can be used as an animal feed. We’ve just begun to feed it to our chickens with the hopeful results that their excrement will smell less, and break down quicker in the soil. It should also help keep the chickens digestive tracks working smoothly and lead to less health problems which should make them better laying hens–not to mention possible resistance to avian flu. It certainly hasn’t seemed to hurt them any. We’ll keep you informed of how it’s going.

Click here for a full set of photos.

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  • Louis August 15, 2008, 7:39 am

    Hi Neal,

    Forgot to say that I’m in England.

    Louis

  • yves conze August 30, 2008, 12:28 pm

    Hi Neal
    I am interested in the industrial and recycle side. May you please forward whatever info that you may have thank you.
    “4) There are some books, and plenty of articles on bokashi–unfortunately they are mostly scientific research papers, consumer’s reviews and industry product sheets. Much of the information out there is in Japanese and a further slew of information–what of it has been translated into English–is in a very hard to search database, mainly for industrial users of Bokashi–in other parts of the world there are huge bokashi compost recycling factories”

  • Betsy August 31, 2008, 7:12 am

    Hi,
    I live in Minnesota, where my outdoor compost pile is frozen solid for months. Can I dump the bokashi on top of the frozen pile all winter?

    If not, do you have other suggestions for what to do with 4 months of bokashi?

    Thank you!
    I’d really love to give this a try!

  • Sew Ha September 6, 2008, 8:43 am

    Hi Neil,
    Great work on the Bokashi. Really appreciate it. Pertaining the handycam which I saw it in the YouTube, I would like to contribute somehow I can nether find your account in amazon or paypal.

    SH

  • Bokashicomposting October 1, 2008, 4:46 am

    You can make your own starter, there’s no need for expensive EM or fancy buckets.

    http://bokashicomposting.com/

  • Podchef October 1, 2008, 6:03 am

    Bokashicomposting–

    EM is NOT expensive. The cost of one litre is pennies per gallon when you factor that a litre of EM Primary Culture can make something like 1000 gallons of Extended Secondary Culture.

    EM Primary Culture is also Food Grade–you can drink it right out of the bottle if you wanted.

    EM is a complex symbiosis of over 60 different aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, fungi, and yeasts–all naturally occuring–working in harmony with each other. It is not one or two or 5 common bacterias gathered from the air or yogurt.

    The Wheat or Rice Bran used as a Bokashi medium is necessary not only because it is a dry material to capture the EM culture, but because it has proteins and structures which Newspaper does not. It can be fed to livestock, or buried directly in the garden around plants even before it is used to make Bokashi Compost. It becomes a medium of life in and of itself. There are ways to use other materials, but they are all organic compounds which give life.

    The point of using Bokashi and EM is to give back to the soil and enhance the life force of plants. EM Cultures have necessary and important characteristics which do this. Lactobacillus is not the most important part of an EM culture. It is actual many of the yeasts and fungi that are just as important. In addition EM’s ability to help plants fix nitrogen at their roots by reintroducing microrhyzae to the soil is worth the price of a litre alone.

    It is true you do not need an expensive Bokashi Bucket system, but the drain is essential in whatever bucket you do use. Not only can the liquid resulting from Bokashi Composting turn putrid and reek, before this happens it is a powerful fertilizer which is not to be wasted. Because it contains concentraited amounts of EM culture is is also great for reactivating septic systems and clearing the gunge out of household drains. Dumping yoghurt down them would not do the same.

    Your efforts a worth persuing, but just know you have not created an EM replacement and anyone who follows your current advice will be missing out on the full benefits of EM and Bokashi technology.

    All the best,

    Neal

  • Bokashicomposting.com October 2, 2008, 8:02 pm

    “Your efforts a worth persuing, but just know you have not created an EM replacement and anyone who follows your current advice will be missing out on the full benefits of EM and Bokashi technology.”

    I’m not going to argue, other than the fact that I never said I created a replacement for EM (the beneficials are available literally everywhere and only need culturing)
    I’ll let folks make there own decisions. The point is we’re surrounded by them and there’s nothing really special about EM.

    Do your own research folks…

    The following information is a good place to start and is totally independent of me and my website….

    “Using the ordinary to cultivate the mysterious power of beneficial indigenous microorganisms”
    http://www.newfarm.org/features/0404/microorgs/index.shtml

    “Korean Natural Farming: Indigenous Microorganisms and Vital Power of Crop/Livestock”
    Han Kyu Cho and Atsushi Koyama

    “Teaming with Microbes: A Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web” by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis..

    Thanks

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