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The 2014 Farmers Almanac
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Why Bokashi Composting May Be Easier Than Recycling

Why Bokashi Composting May Be Easier Than Recycling

If worms make you squeamish and you don’t have room for a traditional composter outdoors, why not give bokashi composting a try? Unlike other composting methods, bokashi, which means “fermented organic matter” or “gradation” in Japanese, is a closed, anaerobic system.

Because air does not mix with compostable wastes, bokashi is highly efficient and is capable of breaking down organic matter much faster than other composting systems. Bokashi composting bins take up very little space and the whole process takes place indoors.

Bokashi composting employs a combination of up to 80 different microbes called Effective Microorganisms (EM). First developed by Dr. Teruo Higa in Japan in the 1970s and marketed a decade later, EM is a specialized balanced formula of bacteria and yeast which is mixed with a carbon base such as wheat bran and a sugar (usually molasses). EM lies dormant until combined with organic wastes in a sealed system, whereby the microorganisms activate. The fermented matter created is a source of significant nutrition to plants.

Bokashi systems can compost a wide range of food wastes, including fruits, vegetables, grains, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells, and small amounts of cooked and raw meat, fish, cheese, eggs, and bread. Paper coffee filters and facial tissues may also go in the bin, as can plant clippings that have been chopped into small pieces. It is essential that you don’t overload your bokashi system though — it is always better to add only a small amount of waste, once a week.

The contents of your bokashi composter can take between 14 and 30 days to ferment, so it may be useful to set up a second bin and run the two systems in conjunction with one another. While you wait for your bins to complete their cycles, you can store excess food wastes in a container in the freezer, to be placed in the composter at a later date. Freezing the scraps helps keep the fruit flies away.

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6 comments

1 sandy { 05.29.14 at 6:26 pm }

Were can get this composter or how do u make one . A 5 gal pail with a tight cover will work ? Do u put any thing in with the craps?I am very interested , please come back with how. Thank you sandy

2 composter { 05.29.14 at 3:18 pm }

Alameda county provided small plastic containers approx 10x10x10 (w/airtight lids) to all their customers w/o disposals; food scraps starting breaking down almost immediately by the end of the week, we literally pour the contents into the large Green recycle bin.

3 Sandi Duncan { 05.28.14 at 2:25 pm }

@Marilyn – up to a 5 gallon bucket should work fine.

4 brokenspokane { 05.28.14 at 11:37 am }

Both a lot of work and costs money! But then getting the scraps out of the kitchen and onto the compost heap, not to mention turning it is a lot of work too. But my compost is sooooo nice!

5 Marilyn Aikman { 05.28.14 at 10:45 am }

Sounds great to me. Question……what size is the composter, can it be kept in your kitchen? Your idea re: freezing food wastes is also a good practice, we already do that here.

6 anonymous { 05.28.14 at 10:16 am }

Sounds like a lot of work to get an end result that isn’t even compost. Someone w/out room for a traditional compost pile can find room to bury several gallons of this every 2-4 weeks? Hmmm.

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