Green Calgary

Bokashi Composting

Bokashi is a Japanese term for “fermented organic matter” and is a form of anaerobic intensive composting using efficient microbes (EM).  Bokashi composting is perfect for those who live in condos and are unable to have a regular outdoor compost bin or for those who wish to have their compost break down more quickly.

You can compost fruits, vegetables, grains, coffee grounds and tea bags, egg shells, and prepared foods without oils.

You can compost sparingly cooked and uncooked meat and fish, cheese and eggs, bread, plant clippings, tissues, compostable coffee filters, and bones.

Green Calgary EcoStore’s bokashi is made on Salt Spring Island, BC and the 5 gallon bin, although made overseas, contains 75% recycled plastic. 

Indoor Bokashi Comosting

1.  Sprinkle a handful of Bokashi in the bottom of the bucket

2.  Collect food scraps and place in the bin on a weekly basis. You want to expose the bokashi bucket to as little oxygen as possible so do not continually add food daily but rather collect your food scraps in a separate container and add to your bin on a weekly basis.  We suggest storing this collection container in the freezer to kill any fruit fly eggs that may be on your fruit peels.

3.  Add approximately one handful of Bokashi to every 2 inches of food waste. Use more Bokashi when adding high protein foods such as meat, fish, cheese and eggs. 

4.  Press down on the bin contents to remove air after every application. A plastic bag or plate can be used for this, and you can leave it in place until next use. In order to reduce the oxygen and create the conditions for anaerobic fermentation to take place, ensure that the lid is closed tightly after each application.

5.  Repeat layering process until the bucket is full. This normally takes anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months.

6.  Drain the bokashi juice. As the kitchen waste starts to ferment, juice will form in the bottom of the bucket. This should be drained off as it builds up, around every two weeks. Bokashi juice can be diluted with water and makes a terrific fertiliser for garden or pot plants. Use 1 teaspoon to 2-3 litres of water and apply directly to the soil. For trees and shrubs use 2 teaspoons to 2-3 litres of water. Do not apply directly to foliage.  Bokashi juice can also be poured down drains to prevent slime build-up and malodours, and is safe to use in septic tanks. Bokashi juice cannot be stored and should be used within a few days.

7.  Let the contents ferment for a period of 48hrs -14 days. Once the bucket is full to capacity, let the contents ferment for a period of 48hrs to 14 days at room temperature, continuing to drain off the juice regularly.

8.  Continue collecting food scraps in your collection container. While this full bucket of waste is fermenting, continue collecting food scraps in your collection container to start the composting process again. Appearances of a white growth on the surface of the waste, as well as the presence of a sweet and sour pickle-like smell are good indicators that fermentation is in progress.

9.  Bury Bokashi Compost in the yard/garden. After the fermentation period is complete, the compost is ready to be planted.  As the food waste does not breakdown or decompose while it is in the bucket, much of its original physical property will remain and it will have a pickled appearance. Complete breakdown of waste will occur a few weeks after it has been transferred to the soil.

Burying Bokashi Compost in the garden will supply the plants with a nourishing food source and condition your soil with enriching microbes. Be sure plant roots do not come directly into contact with the compost as it may burn the roots, particularly if the plants are very young. Fresh compost can be stressful to new plants so it is best to wait two weeks before planning your favourite veggies, flowers etc.

To prepare your soil before planting, dig a hole or trench approximately 20-25 cm deep. Add your fermented Bokashi Compost and mix in some soil. Cover with remaining soil. For established gardens, dig the holes around shrubs or between rows of trees.

If you do not have outdoor space to bury your compost, you may add to friend’s or neighbour’s compost bin.  You can also use your Bokashi Compost in planter boxes, tubs or pots by placing it directly into the container for further fermentation. Fill 1/3 of the container with potting mix (new or used) then add the Bokashi Compost and mix with soil. Fill the remaining 1/3 of the container with potting mix and cover with a plastic bag to maintain anaerobic conditions. Wait two weeks before planting you favourite veggies or flowers, or transfer potting mix into smaller pots for planting.

Common Mistakes

  • Not adding enough Bokashi
  • Not replacing the bin lid tightly after every use
  • Not draining the bokashi juice frequently from the bin
  • Prolonged and direct exposure to sunlight or extreme temperatures  

 

     Helpful Hints

  • You can never add too much bokashi; better too much than too little to ensure complete fermentation and good smelling compost.
  • Only add fresh food waste to the bokashi bin, never rotten or mouldy wastes.
  • Never add rotten or moldy waste. Appearance of white mold is a good indication of proper fermentation. Any other color of mold indicates that there is rotten food. Then the amount of Bokashi added may be too little or the Bokashi may be expired.
  • Break or chop large waste into smaller pieces.
  • The less air that comes in contact with the compost the better so compact the waste by pressing it down to remove air. A plastic bag can be used for this.
  • Always close the lid tightly and drain the bokashi juice that accumulates at the bottom frequently.
  • Do not add water, excessive amounts of fluids or place the bucket in the sun.
  • Wash the bucket after each use.
  • This is a new approach to composting. Don’t be afraid to experiment with it until you get a feel for how this process can work for you.