How Bokashi Works
Bokashi composting is a simple and seamless process that involves very little effort. Just toss your kitchen scraps in a bucket, sprinkle in an activator, and forget about it!
To get started you will first need two things: A Bokashi Bin, and a Bokashi Activator.
Most bokashi bins are outfitted with a false bottom and spigot. This is used to separate the leachate (bokashi tea) from the food waste. The tea is diluted with water and used as a fertilizer, and it works great in the lawn or garden! But these specialized bins are expensive and not necessary.
An alternative option is to use a typical 2–5 gallon bucket with lid, then add a 1-2 inch layer of wood pellets, peat moss or coco coir to the bottom of the bucket. This starter layer will act as a sponge to soak up and preserve the leachate, while adding extra biomass to your bin.
A bokashi activator (or bioinoculant) is material that’s home to a specific set of microbes. Teaming in numbers these microbes lay dormant on the inoculant, waiting to be activated.
RTO Bokashi Primo uses alfalfa meal mixed with freshly milled whole grains and legumes to produce an all-natural, quality substrate that is 100% organic. Our proprietary blend of microbes and nutrients are captured from the most pristine ecosystems across Central Texas; from the eastern hills of the Edwards Plateau, throughout the Balcones Canyonlands and along the Blackland Prairies.
A Pre-Composting Process
Bokashi composting is in fact a ‘pre-composting’ process. This process ferments, or pickles food waste anaerobically. Fermenting scraps in an air-tight container creates an environment where bokashi microbes thrive and efficiently break down the waste. There are three steps to bokashi composting:
Add a layer of food scraps a few inches high to your bin. Scraps can be chopped up into smaller pieces to process more efficiently, but if you’re a lazy composter like most of us, just toss it in and mush it down. Any organic matter can be composted with bokashi.
Add a handful of Bokashi Primo evenly over the scraps. If there’s meat or dairy in the bin use a little more Primo. If there’s some mold on the scraps, or if your waste is slimy, target those areas with extra Primo. Pack it all down, replace the lid and make sure the container is air tight.
Continue adding layers of food scraps and Bokashi Primo until the container is full, then set aside in a climate controlled area for two weeks. It’s important not to leave the bokashi bin in extreme temperatures. This can stress the microbes and spoil the process.
Finishing Off Your Bokashi
After two weeks inspect your bucket. Visually the food scraps will remain unchanged, but with powdery white (and some other bright colors) mold throughout. However, when completely fermented the scraps will easily crumble apart or turn to mush when compressed.
The compost should smell sweet and vinegary with a pH below 4. There will be mold and that’s fine. Black or green mold, not so fine. But if there are no foul or putrid odors you’re okay.
At this point the pre-compost stage is complete and what you have is a very acidic bucket of bio-fertilizer loaded with beneficial microbes. From here it needs to be broken down ‘aerobically’ and there are a number of things you can do:
Build A Soil Factory
A soil factory is the quickest way to convert your bokashi into nutrient rich soil. You can use a large (20 to 30 gal) plastic storage container or a dedicated compost tumbler to make it happen.
Fill your container or tumbler half way with native soil from around your property. If no soil is available buy a bag of cheap topsoil from your local garden center. Used potting mix works too.
Mix the soil and bokashi together thoroughly in the container an let it sit outside, uncovered, amongst the elements. After a week or two the bokashi will have broken down completely and your mix is ready for the garden!
In A Compost Pile
Bury your bokashi in a compost pile and in 2-3 weeks it will be completely processed, leaving you with a mound of super-rich biodynamic compost. Also works well to revive old and neglected compost piles.