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Organic Gardening

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Step-by-Step Bokashi Composting Method: Fermentation, Compost Tea, and Finished Fertilizer

Fermenting Stage

At the beginning of the process, Bokashi composting is a fermentation process with the microorganisms working in a low oxygen environment. To use Bokashi composting systems, simply add the kitchen waste to the container and sprinkle with the bran.

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Food and kitchen scraps to be composted.

You will want to press the waste down to push out the air, a potato masher works well for this, and replace the lid. Find out what waste can be composted with Bokashi in Part 1: Composting Meat, Fish and Dairy with the Bokashi Method.

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Removing air from the composting container.

Continue to do this layering until the container is full. You do not need to have everything ready to fill the container at once, you can add to it over a few days or weeks depending on the amount of waste you generate. If you add to it weekly, you will notice that the volume will decrease as the materials ferment, partly due to the loss of water.

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Bran covered waste which will start fermenting.

Bokashi Tea

The leached water and liquid produced  is known as Bokashi Juice or Bokashi Tea and should be drained off regularly like you would with a worm or vermicomposting system. The color of this tea will change depending what you have put in the container. I have had browns, oranges and even red when I put beets in there.

This liquid can be diluted down as a plant feed for houseplants, vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbaceous perennials in the garden. It can also be used neat to help prevent clogging of drains!

I placed 4 cups of Bokashi Tea in a 2-gallon watering can and used it all over my compost heap to get everything started up again. For general fruit and vegetable feeding, I use about 1 cup of Bokashi Tea to a 2 gallon watering can full of water.

You will want to leave the Bokashi to ferment for a week after the container is full. Make sure you keep draining any liquid coming off from the container.

Composting Stage

After a week or so has gone by, you should dig a hole or trench to bury the waste in the garden to allow the waste to be composted completely. If you don’t want to bury the waste you can add it to the compost heap to allow it to break down and this is the method I most often use.

If you are going to bury the waste, dig a hole in the compost heap:

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Next, add in the contents of the container:

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Cover the Bokashi waste with materials to be composted and water the whole heap. I like to water the heap with any Bokashi Tea in the container diluted in a watering can and also any rinse water from cleaning out the container.

I have found that in 7 days, the fermented waste is almost all composted and my compost heap is back in business decomposing and producing heat. If you use the trench or hole method, be sure to keep the roots of young plants away. The compost will be acidic but will neutralize over 7-10 days.  It is best to wait 2 weeks before planting on top of the trench.

If you have an established garden you could for example, dig a trench between trees or established bushes and place the fermented material in the trench to provide nutrients for them both. If you don’t have access to a compost heap or a garden to dig a hole into to bury the waste, you could try placing the waste in a large plant pot with some store-bought compost on top to cover up any potential smells and use that as your composting container.

Emma Raven has been gardening, cooking, canning and home brewing for most of her life. Formulation scientist, blogger, home brewer and avid gardener. Born in a village on the northern east coast of England, she now calls the Wasatch Mountains of Utah home. Find Emma at Misfit Gardening, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here. 


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