I have been playing around with Bokashi, and it is GREAT fun - especially if you are like me and are not very good at taking the overflowing container of rotting veggie scraps out to the compost pile each day. Everything you have heard about Bokashi not smelling is all true! It is easy and fun and nice. Yup, Bokashi is wonderful, expensive stuff. And a trendy custom made Bokashi bucket can cost you $100!!!!!
Well, Happy News my duck herding friends. You can make Bokashi your self, and you can make your own Bokashi buckets! Here at the Princess Castle we have been using 3 x 10 liter plastic containers from the supermarket. The main thing is that they should have a tight fitting lid. Originally I played around with putting a little tap into the bottom of one of the buckets to drain excess liquid, but have found that if you only put dryish scraps into the bin, then excess liquid doesn’t become a problem.
Having 3 rotating buckets means that while one bucket is in the kitchen, two other buckets can be outside fermenting a bit more until you bury the fermenting scraps into the compost or garden, where everything will break down really quickly and you will have a pile of beautiful compost in a matter of weeks. I have been playing around with my buckets of fermenting kitchen scraps - they are in the glass house where it is warm during the day. Even after WEEKS there is no rotting odor when you take the lids off- just a sort of pickle smell.
And even more exciting, here is a recipe to make your own Bokashi. You will need to buy some magical microbe soup - I have been using VRM's Effective Micro-Organisms (EM-1) Solution. This is magical, wonderful stuff that can be used for activating compost, applying to plants and soil, and as a vital ingredient in making super compost teas. One bottle of EM-1 goes a very long way - you rarely use more than 15 mls at a time, and 15mls tends to make at least 2 liters of tea, or in this case, 15 liters of Bokashi. That’s what is so cool about micro-organisms!
This recipe for Bokashi is from VRM's Application Manual.
You need: A large sheet of plastic, tarp or a heavy duty garbage bag, a 2 liter ice cream container or similar to measure out ingredients, a 2 liter plastic bottle and:
- 6 liters Rice Pollard
- 9 liters Bran
- 15ml Molasses
- 15mls EM-1 Stock Solution
- Approx 2 to 2 1/2 liters warm water (if you need to use town water, leave it out over night so that all the chlorine can evaporate off - chlorine MURDERS good bugs!)
- Dissolve molasses in a little hot water, then add warm water and EM-1 to a 2 liter bottle.
- Measure out all dry ingredients onto plastic or tarp and mix thoroughly.
- Pour on EM-1/water, mixing with hands until you get an apple crumble like consistency. The mix should remain clumped when squeezed, and on touching should crumble away easily. If you are unsure, it is better to be too dry and too wet. VRM suggests leaving the mixture overnight and checking the following day as sometimes the dry ingredients take a little while to absorb the moisture.
- Pack bokashi into a drum or thick plastic bag and seal. Try to exclude as much air as possible. Making the whole thing in a heavy duty garbage bag makes this process easy. A few pieces of newspaper or absorbent paper towel helps to soak up any extra moisture and will prolong the life of your bokashi.
- Leave to ferment in a warm place for a minimum of 2 -3 weeks depending on climate. The idea temperature should be around 35-45 degrees C. If the temperature rises beyond 50 degrees C mix the bokashi to aerate it. In cooler climates or in the winter it may take 4 - 6 weeks to be fully fermented, and the mixture may not seem to heat up as much.
The bokashi will have a strong sweet-sour smell and may give off a strong vapor. This indicates the bokashi has fermented and is ready to use or dry for storage. If the bokashi gives off a sour odor it has failed. If you are intending to keep the bokashi for any length of time VRM recommends drying it out by spreading it out in a warm dry place until it feels dry to the touch. This can take a couple of days. Store in sealed containers, in a cool dry place.
It might be helpful to purchase some premade bokashi so you can get used to it and know how it should look, smell and work. Then you can make your own and reuse the original bokashi containers to store your homemade bokashi. You can buy premade Bokashi from VRM as well as EM-1.
Duck Herder Hints for having your own Kitchen Bokashi setup:
Sprinkle a good layer of bokashi into the bottom of your bokashi bucket. Add a good handful of bokashi for every addition of kitchen scraps. Try and sprinkle the bokashi lightly over the entire surface of the scraps. Press down the scraps regularly. Remember that Bokashi uses an ANEROBIC process. Remember to put the lid back on tightly after every addition. If you are using a very large bucket, perhaps use a smaller plastic lid that can fit inside the bucket as well. When you are adding fish or meat scraps, add a little extra bokashi. You can also spray with EM-1 to speed up the process. When the bucket is full, store in a cupboard or shed for 3-4 weeks in summer and up to 6 weeks in winter. During fermentation drain off any liquid in containers, dilute and use immediately as a liquid fertilizer or compost activator. After fermentation, your kitchen scraps will look not unlike pickled kitchen scraps. The whole lot looks like it should PONG to the stars, so it is quite weird when you take the lid off and it all smells fine! Especially when you know that there has been some serious meat scraps fermenting away in there for the whole time!.
The final step is to bury the whole lot in the compost pile or garden. Beware that the whole lot is still a little acidic at this stage, and will take a few weeks for the final decomposition to occur.
Wash out the bucket and start again!
and Happy Bokashi to you too!