Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Bokashi

This is about an experiment. It all starts with this little blue bucket full of kitchen waste. Like many of you I tend to fill mine up until it is overflowing. I guess if it were warm out I wouldn't because it'd attract flies but right now that is not a problem.

There's lots of things I could do with this. I could throw it into the trash like most people do but I am a composter. I feel guilty when I contribute unnecessarily to our mountains of waste and I know that when properly processed by me, that this bucket will help my garden grow.

So I put it in this larger bucket beneath my kitchen sink. This is my homemade bokashi bucket. Bokashi is a method of composting that I started last fall. I like it because it is OK to put animal products like meat and cheese as well as the usual eggshells in the bucket. I even sometime put hair in it. It is supposedly less smelly than some other methods (I won't vouch for that until I pass a summer doing this) and it has reduced the fruitflies that have infested my kitchen to nothing. I think I find the flies most annoying and don't miss them.

My bokashi bucket set-up is this.

I have 2 buckets that nest together and a lid that fits on top. This lid is what keeps the flies out. I have 2 buckets because the one on top has holes drilled on the bottom of it to drain off any liquid from the compost. This liquid comes from liquid already in the compost and liquid that is created as it decomposes. If I let the liquid collect in the bucket with the compost it would get mighty stinky, but I don't.

Instead I let a bit collect in the bottom bucket and periodically pour it into a small bottle. In theory the liquid should smell like silage or beer or vinegary, but not so much like poop. In practice it has smelled like all of the above at different times.

This liquid is not a waste product. It is good for helping your drainpipes stay clear. The microorganisms that liquefy compost will liquefy whatever collects in your drainpipe. It also is a good fertilizer for your houseplants. I am inclined to pour the bad smelling stuff down the drain but that that smells edible, I mix with water for my plants. They seem not to have suffered from it.

Every source I have seen mentions inoculating your compost with the proper micro-organisms and that is something I have not bothered to do. I want to see if it is possible to do this without all the fuss described by others.

I really have not described in detail what this is about. What I have been doing is a primary stage of decomposition and it is mostly anaerobic. I cram the stuff in my bucket pretty tight. I put newspaper on top on each layer I so I can pack in in really good without getting messy. Sometimes I top it with a little bit of something like yogurt to give it some lacto bacillus to grow on, but lately I haven't. It sorta depends on what's in there already and how it smells.

My method is not scientific at all.

Eventually that bucket will get full. When that happens, I put it in the basement to sit for at least 2 weeks. Really, since I have 2 bokashi buckets set-up because my system is so cheap, it sits longer than that. That's what this final photo shows, my 2nd bucket sitting in the basement. I still drain out the liquid from the bottom like I do the bucket in the kitchen, indeed, in theory, this liquid should be more uniform than the fresh bokashi upstairs.

The next step is to bury your bokashi outside. My sources say that this compost that has thoroughly been inoculated by all sorts of micro-organisms will breakdown rapidly once it sees air. Note: it does not decompose in the bucket, it just starts to decompose, if anything it pickles.

For more information google it. Wikipedia is a decent start. There's also a few videos on youtube. I have a feeling that there will be more information out there.

I intend to update as my experiment succeeds or fails.
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1 comment:

frazzledsugarplummum said...

I will check out this bokashi. At the moment I chop up all sorts of stuff small and just put them with some good soil in a pot. Usually that makes them under whatever I plant in the pot next. When I get a decent amount of leftovers and greens from the garden I will try something larger..perhaps a compost bin. But at the moment it seems to work for me,