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How to Prepare Compost Bokashi – The Easy Way
I’ve been doing bokashi for a while, and it’s working out well. We have a countertop bucket (metal, about 1-gallon capacity, with a carbon filter that I haven’t changed in the 2 years I’ve owned it). No problems with the kitchen smell.
Every 3-4 days I dump that into the bokashi bucket (I have two, which you need because you’re supposed to ferment the full bucket for a couple of weeks before emptying). The buckets have a spigot which is good for draining off bokashi tea, which, when diluted, becomes a good garden spray. It works very well for strawberries and combating leaf rot, maybe not so much for tomatoes – but my data is from only one season!
I probably fill up a bucket about once a month, or even less than that. Assuming you visit your family fairly frequently, that might work out ok.
Don’t skimp on the quantity of the flakes. I sprinkle about a tablespoon or 2 each time I empty my countertop bin, and mix that around. When there are plenty of flakes and the fermentation goes well, the pickle and resulting tea smell almost fruity: quite acidic and not at all unpleasant. If the fermentation goes badly, it takes on a bit of a vomit-like smell, and I add more flakes. I also sometimes pour the tea from the bottom right onto the top, which (I believe) circulates the spores from the new flakes and more evenly distributes the fermentation.
I should note: even the worst smell is completely contained within the bucket until I open it or drain the food waste tea.
It’s better to add the fermented bokashi to the center of my aerobic compost pile (which has lots of browns) than to simply bury it (which is what the instructions recommended). It breaks down faster, is less of a temptation for my dog, and it smells much better (which is to say, not at all).
I keep my buckets in the shade and haven’t had any problems with critters, but rats did gnaw through my bag of bokashi flakes. I moved the bulk of the flakes inside and keep a glass jar of flakes near the buckets, and have had no more problems.
Watch out for the tea with your yard waste… it’s very strong stuff. I haven’t tested the pH, but if I get the undiluted stuff on my skin and don’t rinse it off quickly, it burns a bit later on. Make sure you have a large watering bucket at your folks’ place so that you can dilute it, and have some good plants that would want that sort of treatment. For me, it’s been trial and error, with some good successes. I’m hoping to spray it on some tree leaves in the next few weeks where black mold is taking root.
Good luck! Perhaps my comments will turn you off the idea, but it’s definitely been worth it for me. Overall it’s been less hassle for me than dumping compost straight into my municipal trash or compost bins because that often caused odor issues. It’s actually pretty easy to address any problems with an ongoing fermentation before my family is any wiser.
Vermiculture VS Compost Bokashi
Vermiculture and bokashi could both work, or if you’re simply interested in reducing your landfill contributions and aren’t necessarily interested in using your food waste compost, just do a simple 5-gallon bucket system:
take a 5-gallon bucket (with a good lid) and drill a few holes in the bottom and around the sides
take another 5-gallon bucket (no lid) and fill the bottom quarter or so with soil or other moisture-sucking debris
fit the first bucket into the second
start filling with compostable materials, covering each new contribution with either natural soil or other finely-chopped “brown” material
the holes in the first will help drain liquid into the second
empty and refill the second bucket every few weeks, to avoid moisture build-up (which can lead to mold)