Here at CompostGuy.com I aim to explore organic waste management from as many angles as possible.
While I certainly have a passion for composting, I’m not so naive as to think it is the ‘be all, end all’. I definitely like to keep an open mind!
One topic I’ve been meaning to learn more about is Bokashi. It is a waste management strategy that appears to have a decent following of supporters, and one that seems to offer some perks for people interested in dealing with organic wastes on the home front.
Although it is often referred to as a type of ‘composting’, Bokashi actually relies upon fermentation (and therefore anaerobic) processes.
So how does it work?
In a nutshell, Bokashi involves the use of a bucket (or other sealed container) and a special microbial concoction – using what are known as “Effective Microorganisms”, or EM for short. This term is actually a trademarked brand name, not simply a description.
The “Effective Microorganisms” concept was developed in the 80′s by a Japanese scientist, Dr. Teruo Higa, and as stated on the EM America Website these beneficial microbes are “non-pathogenic microorganisms that secrete compounds that are useful, or beneficial, to other life.” If the list of EM uses on this website is any indication, it is pretty clear that these “Effective Microorganism” mixes are used for far more than just waste management!
All that being said, I should probably point out that these terms (“EM” and “Effective Microorganisms”) are widely used, and don’t always necessarily refer to specific products of Dr. Higa’s company (much to their chagrine, I would imagine!)
OK – getting back to Bokashi…
The EM mixture used for this process is combined with some sort of “carrier” material – typically bran mixed with molasses and water. You have the choice of purchasing this mix ready-made, or you can make it yourself (of course, you’ll still need to buy EM, bran, and molasses). Aside from the overall process itself, it is this mixture that is called Bokashi.
The actual process of filling a Bokashi bucket is quite straight-forward. You simply add your organic waste materials (according to some sources you can even add meats and dairy), then cover with a layer of Bokashi. Repeat this process until your bucket is full. At this point you let it sit undisturbed for a period of time ranging from several days up to a couple of weeks. As such, it is probably not a bad idea to have at least a couple Bokashi buckets going at one time.
Once this ‘sitting’ period is over, it is then suggested that you dig the materials directly into your garden, or simply add them to your outdoor compost bin.
Lets now look at some of the potential pros and cons of Bokashi:
1) It is VERY easy
2) Can be accomplished on a small scale (so well-suited for home owners)
3) It is apparently odour-free (or at least does not create nasty rotting smells)
4) Produces a material that will act as a ‘slow-release’ fertilizer in your garden
5) Potentially works well as a partner strategy with composting/vermicomposting
6) Some say it can be used to deal with ANY kitchen wastes (meat, dairy etc)
7) Admit it – just saying the word “Bokashi” is fun!!
1) You’ll need to have a constant supply of Bokashi mix on-hand
2) Need at least a couple buckets (assuming no other waste management strategies used) for continual Bokashi action
3) ‘Finished’ material is not really finished – still needs to be aged in soil or compost bin before beneficial for plants.
4) Even though it can be done on a small-scale, the end product needs to be put somewhere (ie. potential winter limitations).
So there you have it!
I am definitely interested to give Bokashi a try. As you can see (in the picture above), I have already set aside a bucket for the task. I just need to get a hold of some Bokashi mix and I will be ‘good to go’! I will be interested to see not only how well Bokashi works on its own, but I’m also curious to see if the end material can be used as a ‘food’ for my worm bins.
Rest assured, there will be plenty more Bokashi posts coming your way!
[tags]bokashi, em, effective microorganisms, fermentation, anaerobic digestion, composting[/tags]