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 we 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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