Bokashi FAQWiebke Venter
Bokashi is an easy way to get rid of your food scraps and give nutrients back to the earth at the same time. It is suitable for single-households and families. Besides the “how-to question” about starting a new system like this, there are a lot more questions to be answered about this ancient, yet up-to-date and trending system. We have collected the frequently asked questions from our customers and answered them all in this blog article.
What exactly is Earth Bokashi?
Earth Bokashi is the branded name of Bokashi bran. It consists basically of two things: the host medium and beneficial microbes.
The Bokashi host medium can be almost any fine organic grain or grass-like substance. The Earth Bokashi available in our shop is made with bran, but mediums could be rice, wheat mill run (WMR, a waste product from flour milling), used mushroom growth medium, dried leaves, even sawdust.
The host medium is inoculated with beneficial microbes like yeasts and bacteria that produce lactic acids. These, or bacteria like them, are also the active organisms in yogurt and in silage. The microbes flourish in anaerobic, acidic environments but smell less foul than those in unfettered, natural anaerobic conditions. To prepare the inoculant, the microbes are allowed to ferment in a brew with molasses that provides an energy source for the microbes. Once the fermentation stage is over, the inoculated bran will be dried and packaged.
How do I use the Bokashi system?
The best is to collect your everyday food scraps in a small bin in the kitchen. Empty the small food waste bin every two or three days into the 25 L Food Waste Digester – the Bokashi Bin. Simply press the waste down, so that there is as less air in between the single items as possible. Then sprinkle the Bokashi bran over it and close it.
Once the bucket is full, you need to let it ferment for at least two weeks. Therefore, we recommend to get two Bokashi bins, so that you can use the second one for the time your first bin is fermenting.
It takes us about 1,5 months to fill one bin in our 2-person-household. That depends on how much vegetables you consume, but ideally, it is a lot :)
Can I use the Bokashi system if I live alone or in a very small space?
As long as there is a corner, where you can put your bin(s), anyone can use the system. The bin is airtight and can be used indoors, which makes it ideal for properties with limited space. Also, as the Bokashi microbes prevent the food from rotting, you can take your time to fill the bin. As to why we recommend to get two bins to swap around. You can always stack the bins on top of each other (fermenting bin at the bottom).
Do the food scraps decompose into a liquid? Why the tap on the bin?
Through fermentation of a liquid, build up is created from what is being collected on the ground of the bin. This liquid is called Bokashi juice. There is a strainer inside the bin that separates the juice from the actual food scraps. The tab is to drain the Bokashi juice from time to time while your bin is in use and after the two-week period that fermentation is over.
The Bokashi juice is very nutritious. You can use this juice to fertilize your indoor plants or your garden, as well for cleaning your drains. Make sure to use it right away, that is when it is the most nutritious.
The food scraps do not just disappear though. They stay pretty much in shape, but don´t rot. This organic matter is called “Bokashi earth”.
What do I do with the Bokashi earth?
After the two weeks you can put the Bokashi earth into a compost heap or just dig it in your garden. You can ask around in your neighbourhood if anyone has a vegetable garden and would like to use the Bokashi earth, (if you don´t have your own garden.) Sometimes farms like to take the Bokashi earth to fertilize their fields or vegetable gardens.
You can also feed it to a worm farm. Once the worms processed the Bokashi mixture it becomes nice fertile soil for gardening. We are busy trying out a compost bag for small spaces at the moment. Will keep you posted on how this goes ;)
Does Bokashi stink? How is the smell when you want to add “new” food scraps?
If the bin gets drained properly (there is a strainer inside and the tab to drain the Bokashi juice) it does not smell bad or unpleasant at all (like rotten food or anything). It does have a distinct odour though, a little sour, pickle-like, some say it has a similar smell to beer or cider.
The “smelliest” business in our experience is to drain and use the Bokashi juice, so choose a day to drain when you don´t have guests. The juice doesn´t smell rotten either, it has the same smell as the Bokashi earth, just more concentrated. The smell will disappear after a view hours if you fertilized your plants with it or when rinsing the drains if you used it to clean your drains.
What can be “bokashi´d”?
You can put almost anything in your Bokashi bin: vegetable peels, pumpkin seeds, avocado pits, banana peels… Even cooked leftovers, dairies, meat, and bones can be added to your Bokashi bin. Usually, it is not advisable to compost these because they either attract rats and mice, or harmful bacteria could survive. Nevertheless, as the Bokashi microbes predigest food scraps of every kind, that won´t happen.Only with malty things, you need to be a little more careful because it can kill the microbes. However, in our experience, the microbes overpower the malt.
Do you have more tips and trick on how to use the Bokashi or more questions? Feel free to leave a comment or pop us a personal message.
Happy bokashiing :)