This story begins on a sad note – Nellie, our beautiful kunekune pig, she in charge of foodscrap management, died. See you on the other side, my friend.
As well as companionship (pigs are the best), she played an important part in the health of the garden – converting foodscraps into manure. A job she did with great relish.
Without her, I’ve a goodly amount of food scraps to manage so I’ve returned to Bokashi buckets – they’re my second favourite to pigs. Wormfarms are an equally awesome alternative. Truth be told, I find Bokashi heaps easier.
Bokashi means fermented organic matter.
Bokashi buckets are for sale in heaps of places from hardware stores to common sense organics to online. One kit entails two buckets – one siting inside the other. The food scraps go into the top bucket and any excess liquid drips through the holes in the top bucket to the bucket below.
You need atleast 2 kits because when a bucket is full, it needs to sit and ferment for 10 – 14 days before emptying. Use the 2nd while you wait. I have 3 to cope with the volume of scraps from our house.
You can make the buckets yourself as long as you can find 2 buckets the same size with a sealed lid – something like paint buckets. Drill small holes all over the bottom of one bucket and sit inside the other. Clip the lid on top. The seal is important because like all fermentation, the success of this relies on the exclusion of air.
As well as the buckets, you need a bag of compost zing. This looks like sawdust and is full of beneficial microbes. You sprinkle it on each time you add foodscraps into your bucket. It facilitates fermentation and is basically magic. This you can also make yourself should be more dedicated than I. Find how to online.
Situate the buckets somewhere out of direct sunlight, close by the kitchen for ease, undercover and not too cold. I have mine in the laundry.
Get set up in the kitchen with a container about the size of an ice cream container to collect your foodscraps. The great thing about bokashi is that it will take all your foodscraps – small bones and shells even. Now that the dogs are in heaven, I recycle my larger bones through the fire for some awesome enriched wood ash to sprinkle in the orchard.
Ready to Roll
Start off by sprinkling a dusting of compost zing in the bottom of the top bucket and add your first lot of foodscraps. Push them down to exclude air and sprinkle another dusting of compost zing on top. The zing gets the pickling happening and is the reason bokashi never smells. Close the lid so as it clicks – such an important bit! Keep the air out my composting friends.
Food scraps need to be fresh, hence the small container in the kitchen. Add them daily is best. Any white mold in the liquid or growing on the foodscraps is a good sign.
Every 2 or 3 days empty the liquid in the bottom bucket. This is full of beneficial microbes making it an awesome fertiliser for the garden or equally good to keep drains clean or your septic tank or compost loo healthy. I love setting those microbes loose in as many places as possible! The only time Bokashi smells is when you forget to empty the liquid …. pooee.
When one bucket is full begin on the next one. Leave the full bucket aside for 10 – 14 days to pickle away but dont forget to drain off the juice that collects in the bottom bucket.
Lets Make Compost!
After a fortnight of fermenting, your foodscraps are now jamming with microbes and ready to disappear into the soil. Either trench them direct up the centre of a vegetable bed or near a hungry fruit tree like citrus or avocado or bury them in the middle of a compost pile. I have no trouble with rats when using bokashi – perhaps they arent a fan of pickles?!
Should you have problems, cut the bottom off a bucket and bury it in the ground just below its lid at the base of fruit trees or centre of a vegetable bed and toss the finished bokashi in there. It seems obvious, but I’m gonna say it – put the lid on :).
Because the food is pre fermented it’ll disappear as quickly as 3 weeks in warm weather and longer in cooler weather.