Compost Heaven

The Japanese Kitchen Composter:

the Bokashi System to Ferment your Kitchen Compost.

Bokashi is a Japanese word which roughly means "fermented organic matter" and a Bokashi kitchen composter does just that.

The idea of Bokashi composting came from Dr. Teruo Higa in Japan. In 1982, he marketed a mixture of microorganisms which are known as EM, or effective microorganisms.  Dr. Higa noticed that in healthy soil a combination of organisms (Lactobacillus, Phototrophic Bacteria (PNSB), and Yeasts) live symbiotically.  He took this EM mixture and used it to decompose food waste.  The resulting compost is very fertile and will reactivate even dead soil.

In addition, Bokashi decomposition is a compact, easy way to compost your kitchen waste,even if you don't have the room or the inclination for an outdoor pile.

The whole process takes place in a bucket which fits under your kitchen sink.  In two weeks you will have compost which can be buried in your garden.

In just a couple of months, the food scraps will have finished decomposing so that they are unrecognizable.

The key to Bokashi is anaerobic decomposition--without air.

Most composting requires oxygen; you must turn it and make sure your container has holes for air circulation.  The Bokash Kitchen Composter does not need air, and in fact, needs a tight fitting lead to keep the air out.  This is ideal for kitchen composting because it prevents odor, and fruit flies from gathering.  It also means your kitchen composter can be small even if you have a large amount of garbage.

Using the Bokashi Method

Using the Bokashi kitchen composter is fairly easy.  You add your food scraps and as it builds up, add a handful of the Bokashi mix to every 3-4 cm of food.  Press the food down to try to minimize the air spaces.  Remember--this is anaerobic decomposition.

As time goes on, you will notice that the liquids accumulate in the bottom of your pail.  Drain them off.  You can use them on your plants but dilute it--it will be strong and could burn them (especially house plants).

When you bucket is full, you are ready to put your compost into the natural world.  Here there are a couple of things to note.  Your compost will NOT be black, crumbly dirt.  You will still see the shapes of the food you added.  You have a couple of choices.

If you have a second Bokashi kitchen composter (recommended), you can let this first one rest while you continue to use the second one in your kitchen.  The extra 2 weeks gives the bacteria more time to digest the food, and when you put it in the garden, it will decompose that much faster.

If you don't have a second Bokashi pail or if you just are impatient, you can bury your food anyway.  Take your bucket outside and bury it about 6" below the soil.  Depending on your climate, it will become crumbly soil in a few weeks or a couple of months.

So if you need to bury the scraps, and if it's not black humus when it's done, why use this system?

Easy.  Bokashi accelerates the decomposition process.  This reduces the bulk of the food you must manage.

It also decomposes the food enough so that when it goes outside, critters will not be as attracted to it to dig it up.

And finally, the microbes in the Bokashi mixture are very beneficial to the soil and by adding super-charged compost, you can reactivate "dead" soil and get a healthier garden.

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