Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Bokashi experiment

We don't have a garbage disposal here in Sharjah, which, to be honest, is kind of a pain. If you grew up with a garbage disposal, you know what I mean. If you've never been without one, have you ever stopped to think about how nice it is to be able to wash bits and pieces of food right into the sink, especially when you're dealing with awkward solid/liquid combos like breakfast cereal in milk, or soup with vegetable chunks? If starving children in Africa aren't enough incentive to clean your plate or bowl, the thought of having to fish out chunks of cornflakes with your bare hand and dump them into the trash might be.

Even so, I always felt bad throwing food into the trash can. I'm not just talking about table scraps - consider all the food refuse you produce in a day: orange peels, onion rinds, bread crusts, egg shells, etc. We tried a compost pile for a while, in several ways, but it's so hot here that the pile just kind of sat there and sweated, and we were worried that the stuff could be an attraction for small animals.

Enter the Bokashi bin. I'm not sure where Jeremy heard of it, and I'm not going to go into the details in my own words (here's a Wikipedia blurb if you care to read more), but suffice it to say that this indoor system of composting was invented by the Japanese. OF COURSE. Throughout the day, we throw our peels, rinds, crusts, shells, scraps, whatever into a bowl on the counter. At the end of the day, or every other day, we add the scraps to the Bokashi bin and compress it with a re-purposed potato masher. Then we sprinkle it with a layer of Bokashi bran.

Here is our bin, untucked from its home under the sink, with the Bokashi bran in the background:

And here is what the inside of the bin looks like, with a few weeks' worth of kitchen scraps happily moldering away (I don't think it's literally mold. I can't remember what the white stuff is, but if it is mold, it's the good kind).
Kind of gross, right? Well, a little. The bin has a very tight lid so I never smell a thing unless I open it to add more scraps. Even then, the smell isn't of rot or decay or spoilage - it's more like...yeast, or beer. It's not like I want to go around smelling it all day, but it's not as disgusting as you might think.

Oh, and the liquid you drain from the Bokashi bin every few days can be used to clean your drains (?) and, in a diluted form, feed your plants.

Has anyone else tried this Bokashi stuff? We can't pronounce our Bokashi experiment a success yet (we have to wait a few weeks to bury the stuff under the soil in the garden) but it definitely feels good to be putting our food scraps to good use.

10 comments:

Julia - Finding My Way Softly said...

I haven't tried it, but I am very interested. I have been wanting an option for composting that can be done inside. We have the opposite problem that things are too cold, and often frozen. I guess I should check prices for one here in Oregon. How often do you have to get new bags of the bran?

(On a side note, you might find today's post on my blog interesting, given your time in Russia.)

Ariana said...

One thing that helps compost -- nitrogen! Like fertilizer. The composition process eats up a lot of nitrogen. Once your pile is ready for the great outdoors, make sure you stir it, give it a little water once in awhile, and a sprinkle of grass fertilizer if you can get some. Compost needs air and light to keep is from getting anaerobic.

Kathy Haynie said...

Please keep us posted from time to time...I'm intrigued!

Ariana said...

that should say DEcomposition process....

karina said...

So, what do you do when it's time to put it in the dirt? I mean, how do you get out the stuff on the bottom that's been in there for two weeks without having to separate it from the stuff on top that you put in yesterday? I'm really interested in composting inside, but I just can picture the removal part of the process.

Katie Lewis said...

Cool!

Sarah Familia said...

Looks like the next best thing to having chickens.

Crys said...

Peach saw your compost and said, "EWWWW, gross, garbage. Garbage is gross and stinks." I think she prefers pics of meme. Anyway looks cool. Keep us up to date. We have a compost pile out by our garden. It's doing pretty good although yesterday when Jason was turning it he found two mice had made it into their home....EWWWWW!!!!

Bridget said...

Jeremy thinks this bag of bran will last for a few fillings of the bin, so maybe two months? We'll see. I hope it lasts long because we have to drive all the way to the other side of Dubai to get it.

Bridget said...

Karina, at the very bottom of the bin there is a punctured tray thing that raises the filth (for lack of a better word) off the actual bottom. So when we dump it, I imagine that the tray might get stuck to it and come out but we can just take it off the filth easily.

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