Bokashi Composting

All Seasons Bokashi System
with bokashi bran
Bokashi composting takes home composting to a new level. A Japanese term meaning “fermented
organic matter” or “shading off,” bokashi uses live microorganisms to ferment food waste including meat and dairy into organic material that full of nutrients and microbes that are beneficial to organic gardens. Unlike regular kitchen composting, bokashi is an anaerobic method that will safely and effectively process kitchen wastes such as:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea bags
  • Egg shells
  • Prepared foods with no oil
  • *Meat
  • *Fish
  • *Bones
  • *Plant clippings
  • *Bread
  • *Eggs

*composted sparingly

You would think that since this is an anaerobic process, the smell will be terrible. Proponents of bokashi composting will tell you that such is not the case, and molds found at the surface of your bokashi bin is a good indication of the breakdown process.

The System

4.5 gallon bucket with
2lb bokashi bran
Bokashi is done with the use of a bucket system and inoculant. The bucket has two compartments: the top compartment collects organic material, and the bottom acts as a reservoir that collects drippings from the fermenting materials. The attached spigot at the bottom will help in draining the collected fluid easily. The inoculant, which named as EM or essential microorganisms by Dr. Teruo Higa of Japan, helps break down the organic material and gives the bin an earthy, sweet, and somewhat vinegary smell.

How To Use Your Bokashi

Step 1: Prepare all your materials ready, with your organic matter chopped into smaller pieces. The smaller the materials, the faster the breakdown.

Step 2: Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of your bokashi bran at the bottom of your bin, then add your kitchen scraps on top of it.

Step 3: Keep adding organic material, putting in additional 1-2 tablespoons of bokashi bran per 1-1.5 inch of kitchen scraps.

Step 4: Remember that this is an anaerobic process, so press down gently but firmly on each addition to take out air pockets.

Step 5: Keep the lid closed to protect it from pests. If you notice unpleasant smells, add more bokashi to the mix. You can never use too much, but too little bokashi can ruin the bin.

Step 6: Once you have filled up the bin, keep the lid sealed tightly and do not disturb the system for 2 weeks.

Step 7: Drain the system every now and then. The liquid you have collected can be used as side dressing for your plants, or as a cleaner to your drainage pipes to take out the smell. If liquid reaches up to the top bin, your compost will be compromised.

Step 8: after 2 weeks, gather the solid matter and bury it 8-24 inches beneath your garden soil. Take care not to let the material touch the roots of your plants, especially the young ones. This soil will be good for use once you cannot differentiate between the soil and organic matter.

Step 9: Rinse and repeat!

Other Tips

White mold and yeast is good in your bokashi bin. If your organic matter has green or black mold, your bin is too wet, you’re using too little bran, you’re not pressing enough, your bran has expired, the lid is not closed tightly, or some other issue is present. Green mold must be picked up, and black mold can be fixed by burying it in a little sugar plus some bokashi bran.

Keep in mind that bokashi composting is not like your regular composting. It takes out moisture from your organic material, ferments them, but does not help in breaking down. Once the system is done, you will see pickled organic materials which still look similar to their original form. The worms and soil microbes will do the rest of the breaking down process for you.

A lot of gardeners have seen success in using bokashi compost in their gardens. Flowers and crops flourish like never before, and the soil becomes alive and healthy with the microbes introduced by the bokashi system.

If you had experience with bokashi composting, either good or bad, please do share it with us so that each one will learn more about this wonderful organic way of keeping our gardens alive and healthy.