Mack and I are delinquent Bokashi bloggers. At the end of last year, I wrote that I would be writing about our Bokashi experience “soon”. Well, that undefined period has become eight weeks in length. But no longer!
In December, Mack answered the call put out by Mike Thomas for people interested in trying out an indoor composting method that did not involve worms. We met up with him one weekend, and he supplied us with our own Bokashi starter kit – three Ziploc bags of Bokashi, and an Eco Living Organic plastic tub outfitted with a drainage tap and a lid.
Michael explained that Bokashi is a bran-based mixture, that when added to certain natural materials, and void of oxygen, would help ferment organic matter. He provided us with a list of permitted additions, which included everything from vegetable peels, tea bags, egg shells and bones. Not permitted? Anything bleached (e.g. white coffee filters), mouldy, or liquid.
Base layer of Bokashi
The composting process seemed simple: add permitted materials to the tub, sprinkle some Bokashi over it, and give it a stir. Michael also advised using something like a plate or a plastic bag to cover the top of the mixture which would help squeeze and keep out excess air. The compost smell would be minimal, and was to resemble a pickling odour and nothing more.
Our first composter additions!
Every few days, Michael said the mixture would yield 2-3 tablespoons of liquid, which we could dilute and use as a fertilizer for plants, or pour down the drain to act as a sort of natural Draino.
In terms of “disposing” of the rich compost material, as condo dwellers without a yard or a community garden plot, we still had a few options, including throwing the material out in the garbage (in the grand scheme, if everyone composted even a little, it would impact overall waste management systems, in lightening the garbage load). That seemed a little “wasteful”, so we figured we’d donate the material to my parents, who do have a garden.
Since we started using Bokashi, we’ve made a few observations:
1) It is easy to use! Adopting Rachael Ray’s “garbage bowl” technique, I would place all of the scraps in a bowl, and dump the contents into the tub at the end of the day. The only minor inconvenience was having to cut up things like grapefruit halves and banana peels – Mike recommended nothing larger than the size of a potato chip go into the tub.
2) Because we cook quite a bit, our tub was about two thirds full in about a month. As Michael had said, most of the peels would retain their shape and colour – it was odd to see that things like orange peels remaining intact week after week.
3) We were checking for the liquid every few days during that time – but none was produced.
We left it alone for a while, unsure of how long to let the mixture break down. More importantly, we weren’t sure if we had messed it up – though the smell was tolerable (a sort-of pickling smell), because of the lack of liquid (still, after two months), we weren’t sure if we were on the right path. Mike reassured us that we might be though (and more Bokashi can fix most ills), and advised us to simply add more organic material to the mix.
Our compost after two months
More posts about Bokashi to come (for real this time)!
You can read about Sarah’s experience with Bokashi here (as a single family home dweller with a young child) – unlike us, she hasn’t been delinquent.