Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bokashi update

It's time for an update on our experience with Japanese indoor composting, aka Bokashi.

The main reason I was on board with trying it was to reduce the amount of food scraps we threw away in the trash can (we do not have a garbage disposal). I was raised in a house with a compost pile, so it is second - nay, FIRST - nature for me to want to put orange peels and egg shells somewhere other than the garbage. (It's the same as if you grew up recycling in your home - you will never be able to throw away a newspaper in the trash can without wincing.) And I'm happy to say that the Bokashi bin has performed very well on that count. Almost anything can go inside the Bokashi bin, including cooked food and small pieces of paper (like napkins), which is more than you can say for compost piles. It is so easy to keep the bowl nearby as I'm prepping dinner, fill it with peels and skins and scraps, and then add it to the big sealed bin at the end of the day. Our kitchen trash can doesn't fill up as fast and it doesn't get as stinky, either.

But of course, the main purpose of the Bokashi bin is to create humus for enriching the soil of a garden. That's the main reason Jeremy tried Bokashi in the first place. You have to wait for the entire bin to fill before you bury it in the garden, and in the six months since we've had the bin, we have done that three times. We are still on our original bag of Bokashi bran, by the way, which is nice since I was reluctant to be locked in to buying a proprietary product too often. We have also used the "juice" of the bin as plant food. And it seems to be going well. Considering that our soil was pretty much sand before, I'm sure the Bokashi humus is improving it.

The only negative I can report about the Bokashi bin is not really its fault. Sometimes, we get lazy and forget (or "forget") to empty the day's food scraps from the bowl on the counter into the sealed Bokashi bin. That's fine if it happens one day only, but sometimes the counter bowl gets left unemptied for too long. This is a problem for two reasons. First, it starts to stink (because hello, nasty food scraps just sitting in a bowl on your counter). And second, mold sometimes starts to grow, and once the food is moldy, you cannot add it to the Bokashi bin. It messes with the healthy fermentation process.

Overall, I would really recommend Bokashi for people who cannot (for one reason or another) manage a normal compost pile - or even if you can, actually. It takes up very little space, doesn't require much effort (ahem, unless you get lazy like us sometimes), adds back to your garden, and reduces the amount of food scraps you throw away in your trash can. And that's good for everyone.

10 comments:

Amanda Ball said...

I was actually wondering about this, thanks for the update.

Kathy Haynie said...

This is very cool. Thank you for the update! I'm terrible about composting. This might be something that would work for me. I really do dislike throwing away food scraps.

Glenda The Good said...

When we lived in Illinois recycling was a "requirement". Now in our current republican Midwestern state it is a privledge we pay our mayor to do. The first few months we didn't have the recycling set up and it was abhorrent to me to throw my cereal boxes in the trash can. With the amount of cereal we eat and the amount of papers that come home from two kids in school recycling makes up at least half our trash. Our kids are little recycling monitors as well. Heaven forbid I throw a paper in the trash! Captain E will say, "are you purposely trying to kill more trees?" One of the things dr j loved about Oregon when he was there...forced recycling in the hospital. He still mentions it from time to time. You would not believe how much trash a hospital creates a day. Our compost heap is Dr j's baby. He is always checking my trash for tidbits because he knows I get lazy and will just throw fruit scraps away :)

Liz Johnson said...

THIS IS AWESOME. I think I might want to try it, since I've heard compost piles around here majorly attract critters of all sorts.

Nancy said...

Thanks! I've been loathe to try a compost heap as well since we live right by a stream and already have all sorts of critters (snakes, frogs, rabbits, turtles) roaming around looking for treats... Maybe we'll give bokashi a go...

Lucia- insert creative nickname said...

What a cool contraption. I was wondering if it was stinky, glad it isn't. That sounds like that will go on my list of things to buy when we get there, although I have no intention of gardening, I am TERRIBLE at keeping plants alive even in non-desert climates. I could probably neglect even a cactus to death. But I love not wasting food scraps so perhaps I will be a compost benefactor.

Ariana said...

Some fodder for your upcoming friday (has nothing to do with bokashi, composting, or anything of that nature. Has everything to do with keeping Portland weird:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pii4G8FkCA4&feature=player_embedded

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Composting in any form is A+, so I'm pleased you found a way that works for your situation. There's dozens of methods and scores of bins to pick from around here. My first pile ever was just a hole in the ground where I dumped our scraps, then eventually we graduated to an Earth Machine, then 2 of them. I love my compost pile. It's satisfying to make something valuable from "nothing," and to make our trash smaller. I've been known to take plastic bags full of watermelon rinds and other organic waste home from group picnics to feed my compost pile. And to rake up my neighbor's leaves to add in.

Also, newspaper, cardboard egg cartons, and other like non-food waste can go in. One of these days I'm going to put newspaper into our paper shredder,then add it to the compost to see if those teeny pieces speed it up.

Liz Johnson said...

I am probably going to get one of these in the next few days.

Question - how do you incorporate the compost into your garden? Do you have to dig up soil and stick it underneath? (it's amateur hour over here)

Bridget said...

Yes, you have to actually bury the contents of the full bokashi bin. After a few months you can just leave it there, or unearth it and spread it around.

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