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Thread: Thinking about bokashi

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    Snoop Puss's Avatar
    Snoop Puss is online now Early Fruiter
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    Default Thinking about bokashi

    Thinking about starting bokashi bins. Before anyone asks, I've had assorted wormeries in the past (home-made and commercial). All the worms froze in the first winter here as I couldn't keep them above freezing. I don't particularly want to keep worms again. I could keep bokashi buckets above freezing most of the time, but it's likely that there would be the occasional freeze. Micro-organisms might spring back from that (especially if additional bran is added) but worms wouldn't. If poss, I'd like to keep this thread specifically to bokashi.

    I've looked back over previous threads and see some people haven't liked it but it does OK for others. I understand the process doesn't break down waste into compost but essentially pickles it, meaning it looks pretty much the same as when it went into the bucket. So I'm under no illusions about what to expect in that respect. That said, I have a number of questions, unsurprisingly.

    Winter and summer temps
    I can't keep the buckets in the house, as I am allergic to mould spores but I could keep them above freezing most of the time in a sheltered area. Would this be satisfactory? Minimum temp ever was -17 ºC not including wind chill, but usually the low is -12 ºC.

    What's likely to happen in very hot temps? Will the bucket smell? Or is the process simply speeded up? Or does it not make a difference? We hit 44 ºC in the shade in summer, going on for weeks on end, though night-time temps are generally below 20 ºC.

    I have compost bins which I use for processing garden and chicken waste and some kitchen waste. I'm going to be fencing off my veg patch to keep the dogs and chickens out. But in winter, I'm hoping to move the chickens into my veg patch to keep the surface scuffed and the weeds down. I understand bokashi waste is buried. If the chickens dig it up, is it likely to do them any harm? I can't think why it would but thought I'd better ask. If there is a problem, I guess I could just bung the bokashi into the compost bins.

    I understand bokashi liquid and waste is acidic. Not a problem, I think, as I have alkaline soil. Plus, I've read that soil tends to return to its baseline pH eventually after bokashi treatment. Apart from not adding it to soil where alkaline-loving plants are to grow, is there anything else I should bear in mind? How long is the waste likely to take to break down once in the soil, for example? Is it OK to grow roots in bokashi-treated soil?

    To save keep opening the bins, can compostable bags be used to store kitchen waste in the interim and then bunged in the buckets with the waste?

    Any and all advice welcomed.
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    Jay-ell is offline Welcome To The Jungle
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    I keep my bokashi bins in the garden outside the kitchen door all year round. As long as you keep the lids on tight they shouldn't go off - I've had it go off only once or twice, because the lip wasn't on properly. Once I was able to bring back with more bran and making sure the lid was on tight, the other I binned. I have a little green compost caddy bucket I add the food to then empty it en mass into the bokashi bin. I'll add brown paper, newspaper etc to soak up things like gravy but I've not tried those compostable bags you mentioned.

    I add the bokashi to the compost without problems. There tends to be a reasonable mix of carbon nitrogen for it to break down quickly. This year I also buried a couple of bin fulls in the pumpkin bed underneath the hills and planted the seeds over them. By the time the roots hit the bokashi it had broken down. Probably take about 4 weeks when the soil is warm enough though once I've buried it I tend not to dig it it up. I don't put it into the root beds as it'll probably cause forking but any leafy crop or anything that likes rich soil should be fine. If you make a bean trench you can add it to that.

    I don't always drain the bokashi juice out and just tip it into the compost bin. The water used to rinse out the compost is tipped onto the compost pile as well to get all the nutrients out. From what I've seen the acidity of the bokashi doesn't seem to affect the soil in the long run and it goes back to it's normal level quite quickly.
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    Have a look at www.bokashiliving.com. I know they're Canadian and so there are different reasons for doing it but I've found them helpful.

    I bokashi in the spring, summer and autumn but I have difficulties through the winter. I put the buckets in the shade so they don't get hot from sunlight.

    The major problem I have is that I've only bought two buckets and that's not enough. Bokashi living said you ought to put most of your kitchen waste in because the mould like fruit, etc. whereas I only have space for cooked waste and meat/fish which means it tends to get smelly unless you use a lot of bran.

    I'm trying at the moment to put a bigger mix of stuff in with the bin in my greenhouse.
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    Thanks, guys. Mark, that was a useful site. Loads of info, including the fact that compostable plastic can go in the bins, so I guess compostable waste bags would be OK. Though wrapping waste in newspaper might actually be better. Never thought of putting paper in.

    Jay-ell, that was really useful. Do your bins ever get exposed to frost?

    I'm hoping to add the waste straight from the bin to the soil. My compost bins are not terribly effective. It's too cold in winter and too hot in summer (they dry out all the time).

    Trying not to get my hopes up that bokashi could be a good solution. Needing more than two buckets, Mark, sounds brilliant to me.
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    They are good and their bins look better than most available. Its just a pity the shipping costs from Canada are so high - more than the cost of the bins.
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    ^Yes. I've been looking at the Skaza two-bucket kits on Amazon. They look OK. Seems to be the standard deal here in Spain. Bit surprised at the cost of the bran here, but making it looks to be a bit of a palaver and a little does seem to go a long way.

    Did you make your own bins?
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    What are the benefits of bokashi? I’m really struggling to understand the mechanics of it..
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    Hi Logunner, Wikipedia says, in its entry on compost, that Bokashi "uses a mix of microorganisms to cover food scraps or wilted plants to decrease smell, reduce the risk of attracting pests and increase the speed of decomposition".

    It takes two weeks or so for the micro-organisms to essentially pickle your waste in an air-tight bucket to produce 'pre-compost', which then breaks down very fast in a normal compost bin or in a hole in the ground. It's supposedly, a speedier, more environmentally friendly, more nutrient-rich and easier way to produce compost. The complete process from waste disposal to compost takes between four and six weeks, apparently. I've not tried it yet, so can't say for sure. I'm not sure I believe all the hype, but if it does what it says eventually, that's good enough for me.

    Not cheap though as you need Bokashi bran (innoculated with the micro-organisms) and at least one, but ideally more, air-tight buckets fitted with taps. You should find plenty of info on the site Mark links to: http://www.bokashiliving.com/
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