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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Why I Love my Bokashi


A few years ago, my mum offered to get me a bokashi bin for Christmas. But I declined. Mostly because I didn't know what she was talking about. And I didn't like the sound of a second composting system sitting about in my kitchen which is grotty enough as it is.

We already have two compost bins outside and a worm farm. But I must say they don't work as well as they should.  Our compost takes quite a while to break down and I don't have as much of it as I'd like. I would say there is too much wet matter in there. And we have mice. And we don't help things along by turning it often. I do have one of those twisty metal stick things to jiggle it all about but you need a pretty strong arm to turn the compost. And my arm would prefer to be planting seeds or depositing water or other stuff that doesn't involve decomposing scraps and mice. I know there are more things I'm doing wrong too but I just can't be bothered getting too finicky about the compost bins.

As for the worms, they don't require much attention but by golly I could grow old waiting for worm wee or worm compost or whatever you call it. They are slow to do their business. And one year during a heatwave I completely cooked them and had to start all over which wasn't very nice for anyone. Especially the new worms which I just dumped in with the carcuses of their expired ancestors.

Anyway, Monkey Man's sister got a bokashi bin but she never used it. So she gave it to us and I have grown to love it. Especially over winter.  Now I don't use the bokashi bin exclusively. I alternate between it and the regular compost bins. It takes a few weeks for us to fill the bokashi bin and during that time no-one has to make the trek to the outside compost bins with the mice and the dark and drizzle and cold.

For those of you uninitiated, a bokashi bucket is an airtight bin that sits in your kitchen and in which you drop your kitchen scraps. It has a draining system down the bottom and once a night I give it a squish with a specially dedicated potato masher and sprinkle over it a handful of the bokashi activator and let it do its work fermenting. At first I thought it might be a bit of a waste of money buying that bokashi activator stuff - it's a bag of grainy stuff (apparently usually rice bran and molasses that've been innoculated with composting micro organisms). But I have found this stuff doesn't cost much and lasts a long time.

But the number one, super-dooper, best thing about the bokashi is the liquid fertiliser that it produces. There is a draining section down the bottom and every so often I turn on the tap to release some of the liquid into a container and dilute it to fertilize the garden.
bokashi liquid ready to be diluted and watered on the garden
When there's no more room in the bokashi bin, we dig a trench, bury it somewhere in the garden or a dormant veggie patch and start all over again. Because the composting process has already started, it only takes a little while to break down underground and provide nutrients.

Oh yeah, I'm so in love with my bokashi bin. 

NB - this is an ad free blog. I'm not into taking money or gifts for blog review. Those annoying emails go straight in my computer rubbish bin. I'm just writing here about something that works for me.

30 comments:

  1. I use my worm farm pretty much the same as this, I get heaps of worm wee from mine? I do have a lot of worms though in there, and I do put a fair bit of veg compost in there...they must be fast eaters!
    Ive never heard of the bin before...Im all for what works and if it works then fab!

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    1. I wonder why mine are so slow? Maybe I need more worms. Or maybe I need the fast eating type like yours!

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  2. Wow - great concept. I've not heard of these before VG. Will have to investigate. All our compost things end up in the chook yard, but I've never been really happy with that either. It does have its' own built in worm farm though .. lol. cheers Wendy

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    1. Chooks are good composters aren't they Wendy. I must say though, my chooks are very fussy so I can only feed them little bits of scraps. Do your chooks eat the worms too? Mine are fussy about snails but if one of them finds a worm they all go chasing it and try to steal it!

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  3. I've found that Bokashi fermented veg matter is actually a great compost accelerator. Instead of digging a trench and burying the stuff in the ground, just toss it into your compost bin, add a bunch of torn newspaper to deal with the wetness and wait a bit. I wonder if it might also deal with your mice problem?

    And six years ago, I had that exact same watering can!

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    1. Hi Oanh. I once did chuck it in the compost bin because I was too lazy to dig a trench. And it did work well. That time I had great compost - but I also mixed a lot of the chook straw in too. Maybe I will start putting some of the bokashi in the compost bin too. Thanks for the reminder.

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  4. I knew what they were but these but you are the first person I have heard talk/write about them. I am such a slacker at taking out the compost, the kitchen bin sometimes gets a bit smelly and little flies come. LOL. A Bokashi might suit my style. With the worms, make sure they are really damp. A lot of the so-called 'wee' is actually moisture drained through the vermacastings.

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    1. Thanks Hazel. My worms are damp. They just seem to be slow. You sound like me with the compost. I reckon you'd like a bokashi.

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  5. Uh, I may need to explore that!

    Ciao
    Alessandra

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  6. I have heard of people making their own bokashi bin and activator - cant find the details right now. It sounds really simple and seems to be working well for you. I found my compost worked really well when I had lots of leaves. Since my lychee tree was pruned and we haven't had as many leaves I have found my compost to be a lot wetter. I love reading your posts - you always bring a smile to my day - thank you!.

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    1. Yes africanaussie I've read about that too. I should have dug up a link for this post. I think the one advantage of getting a ready made one is the tap at the bottom so you can get out the liquid out easily. You're probably right about the leaves. We tend to only put in the food scraps and then wonder what's going wrong! There was a time when I was putting in shredded newspaper. Must do that again.

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  7. Nice to read you have a system that suits you. I have messed around with what I thought was a compost for many years, but I now understand it was really an over sized worm farm and it took forever to get much from it. I have since mastered the hot compost method and I owe my thanks to the added bonus of guinea pig poo and waste bedding that we now have in abundance.
    I am a little compost obsessed though, so I am interested in all methods of turning scraps in to useful matter for the garden. Thanks for explaining this.

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  8. Ah gumboot greener I've heard about compost obsessives like you! :) How do you face those guinea pigs though? Our first pets for the monkeys were a couple of guinea pigs and I had to pretend to like them. But every time I saw them I was just reminded of rodents.

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  9. My chickens would be quite upset if I got a bokashi. I do think they are a great idea though. When I worked for the Dept of Environment & Heritage every kitchen had one. The gardeners in the offices took turns emptying it. City apartments would be another great situation for one.

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  10. I loved mine too before I got the chickens. Now my 6 full sized laying hens eat everything I can give them.

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  11. I hear what you're saying about the worm farm taking forever. I bought mine with Kevin Rudd's stimulus payment. When was that? 2009? The first tray has only just filled (though I have harvested worm wee) and I'm giving up on it. I'll use what's there on the garden and try to re-house the worms into the compost bin.

    We had a bokashi bin in the building in which I work. Hardly anyone could be bothered using it so that was the end of that. I'll give some thought to getting one for home. It might be just the thing!

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  12. I don't see guinea pigs in the same light as rats, I know others dislike them though. We have seven now and they are each so different and I adore them. I do love my compost too, a little too much I think.

    Nina if you compost bin gets too hot you will kill your worms, be careful.

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  13. That would be just the thing for me - like Hazel I can be a little lax in taking out the compost bucket and things start to rot down the bottom - its quite unsightly all things considered. I shall seek one out.

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  14. I've been thinking about getting a Bokashi bin since my compost is too wet and I can't be bothered to turn it either... Glad to hear you've had a good experience with it. Does it ever smell? And how much do you dilute the liquid?

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    1. Beth it doesn't smell. Well maybe it does but you'd have to put your nose right in. A fermenting smell I guess. Also, it has to be airtight so you only would smell it while you're putting stuff in. You dilute the liquid with water 100/1. But I must admit I didn't measure mine yesterday so I hope I didn't do any harm.

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  15. That sounds like great liquid feed for the garden, I like the sound of how it works quickly, very tempting. I thought they were just for people with flats.

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  16. I used to think that Bokashi was a Japanese food style, like Suchi, Teriyaki etc!

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  17. Try blending or chopping the food for the worm farm. They won't eat fresh food - only decomposing food. We too had a worm farm disaster the first year when my husband fed them the beer grains after he'd brewed. Man they do not smell good when they die in 30+ deg heat!!!

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  18. I have the same composting as yourself. Two compost bins, a worm farm and a bokashi bucket.
    I also have had a worm farm disaster... Years ago I accidentally drowned them. I thought I'd add the deceased worms to the garden. The stench was unbelievable. I am sure the neighbours must of been blocking their noses. I am on my 2nd batch of worms. I agree, though, that they are s l o w.
    I love the Bokashi too. For a while I was over it though with the digging the trench and putting this slosh in the hole but I started it again because I have found the soil benefitted from it so much. Glad you have converted.

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  19. I've held off from getting a Bokashi bucket because there's just me in this flat and it takes me 2 weeks to fill a normal-size bucket with kitchen waste (and by the end of that time it's definitely smelly to empty). So I thought it would take me far to long to fill the standard 20 litre size Bokashi bucket.

    But yesterday I found the ones made by Jaki Bokashi in SA that come in a smaller 13 litre size. They also have lids that are easier to open with one hand, while still being airtight. So I've ordered that and look forward to using it.

    Two queries: I eat a lot of grapefruit and drink a lot of tea. Would I need to cut the half-grapefruit skins smaller, and would I need to drain off the tea so that only the tea-leaves go in the bucket?

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    1. The small size would be good for one person CG. I'm no expert but I don't think you'd need to cut the grapefruit skins up. You wouldn't need to drain the tea - it would just soak through and go down to the drainer bit. And you'd end up diluting it with water to put on your garden as the liquid tea anyway.

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  20. Many thanks for the swift response, veggiegobbler - so many bloggers don't notice when one leaves a query on an older thread.
    And thanks, too, for your reassurance about both grapefruit skins and tea. The more effort-free the system is the more likely I am to continue using it!

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