“Bokash-me” or How to Bokashi

in DIYHublast year (edited)

WHAT IS IT?! That’s what I call a good Bokashi. What’s in the middle? The white stuff…

Waiting for a year for your kitchen scraps to compost?

Waiting a that long is a bit much when you can have compost in a COUPLE MONTHS. Bokashi will compost most any type of organic matter, from small (fish)bones, citrus peel, nut shells, tea bags, coffee grounds, etc. Even fats and grease that aren't supposed to go down the drain.

Bokashi requires a sealed container and the bacterial culture which for our intents and purposes, comes on Rice Bran. The idea is to get your compostables inside the bokashi bin and add a bit of bokashi-bran. We'll get to the bran and the container. Avoid dumping too much liquid into the bokashi if avoidable. The microbes work best when it's humid, but not overly 'sopping.' If you have condensation on the top of your container, it may be too damp. You can put an egg-carton or some newspaper inside the container to absorb some of the humidity if this is the case. The process will generate bokashi juice and it's necessary to have some way of separating the juice from the compost. This is where the bokashi container comes into play. I'll provide instructions for building a simple container system in a bit.

The process is fairly odorless, until the end really. When you dump the bokashi contents, it does stink until it gets buried. It's mostly a 'sour' type of odor, vinegar like. It's not pleasant, but it's not entirely putrescent... certainly not as bad as you might expect. It doesn't smell like typical 'hot garbage' that's for sure. When you add compost to the bin at the end of the day, a tiny bit of smell does come out, but it's quite negligible.

After a month or more of fermenting, the ‘pickled’ contents are ready to be buried

Technically bokashi is actually a process of fermentation. Sort of like pickling. Don't open the bokashi container more than once a day to add contents. Allowing air inside often will slow down the process tremendously.

All About Bokashi Juice

When your bokashi is working good, it will start to become…

That is, it will start to create bokashi juice. Draining the bokashi juice should be done regularly, daily if possible. The juice should smell fairly vinegary. If it smells revolting your bokashi likely is not 'working' 100% properly. Make sure that the container that you are using for the fermentation is airtight if this is the case. Also make sure you're not opening it too often. Good bokashi juice is said/known to be a good fertiliser, diluting one part of the juice to 20 parts water. Do not use foul smelling bokashi juice, simply discard it if you have any concerns. I can't really vouch for the effectiveness as a fertilizer, I'm simply not sure how much nutrients are really in there. I can say it hasn't harmed any plants I put it in so I'm sure the fuss isn't all about nothing.

Your bokashi juice might have a bit of white stuff floating in it. This can happen when your container is airtight enough for the 'bokashiing' but not completely. This is not too big of a concern. Green mold may be from putting stuff that is already starting to decompose and is not what you're after. It's good to have a separate, small 'organics' container to collect compost throughout the day and put it in the larger container, opening the bokashi bin only once a day.

Eventually after a month of being sealed (Since you last topped off, not since you started adding) you can dump the contents of the container and bury it in some soil. It will not look 'overly' composted right away. Most of the stuff you'll see in the bokashi at this point will still be pretty recognizable; you may wonder if anything has happened. However, it really is amazing to see how quickly it decomposes thereafter. You can leave the bokashi for longer than a month if you don't need the container right away. I have and recommend two bokashi containers, and alternate between the two. While one is fermenting, I am filling up the other one, and vice versa.

Containers are available to be purchased as part of kits or you can make your own sort of container for a bit less money. The bokashi bran can be purchased or made yourself but that is not an area that I am experienced in and is a topic for another day.

Buildin’ yarr own bokashi container, yarr!

What you gonna need to make one container:

  1. 2X 19L Buckets
  2. 1X Lid for bucket
  3. 3/4" Nylon Buklhead Adapter
  4. 3/4" Hose bibb or 3/4" threaded ball valve (if available -- less 'screwing around')
  5. Teflon Tape or Caulking to seal in the JUICEEE
  6. Optional: An extra lid with a rubber gasket in it.

Additionally you will need the following tools:

  • Drill
  • Small drill bit (1/4" is fine) to drill drainage holes
  • A hole saw or spade bit large enough to make a hole for the bulkhead adapter (Mine needed to be 2 3/8" if I remember correctly, which I didn't have, so I made the biggest hole I could and enlarged it afterwards using a die-grinder bit.)

I decided to decorate the outside bucket with some yellow tape I had lying around so I wouldn’t have to stare at logos every time. But this of course is completely optional.

Using a flashlight can help you mark where the hole will need to go in your outside bucket. You will want to have the adapter as close to the bottom as possible. Otherwise you will have to measure, keeping in mind that the bottom of the bucket likely has a flange around the bottom.

At the time, I only had this 3/4 inch spade bit, so I started the hole off with that.
At the time, I only had this 3/4 inch spade bit, so I started the hole off with that.

Some teflon tape was used to avoid leaks, alternatively use caulking.
Use the small drill bit to drill a bunch of small drainage holes in the second bucket. This one will sit inside the other one.

I found some lids that had these rubber gaskets, which I removed and placed in between the two buckets for extra airtightness. I had to go to a different store to find them, however.

After all that, you are ready to add your first bits of compost. Did I mention that it also handles pet waste?

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