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Bokashi Bucket Composting

Composting is all good and well if you have a house with a garden. What happens when you live in a small space? What about flat residents or a home with a small balcony or courtyard?

There are some great composting solutions to explore. One of the more popular methods is a Bokashi Bucket system, which incidentally is great if you have a garden too.

A Bokashi Bucket system is a fantastic way manage household and organic food waste. This is a system where you add Bokashi bran to your food waste, which can include cooked food, meat and dairy. You put it in an airtight bucket and leave it to ferment.

This process has several benefits:

  1. It’s quick. The fermentation process takes 1 – 2 weeks and then you can dig the fermented food waste directly into the ground or add it to a compost heap.
  2. Fermentation takes place in an anaerobic environment i.e. a sealed bucket. This means it can happen inside your home if you have limited or no outdoor space.
  3. No bad smells. The Bokashi systems has a sweet, pickle-like smell.  Since all food waste can be placed in the Bokashi Budget; garbage will smell cleaner too.
  4. No pests. During processing, the food waste is kept in a tightly sealed bucket and once the food waste has fully fermented, pests are not interested in it.

How does Bokashi work?

The Bokashi Bran is wheat bran infused with molasses and microorganisms (or microbes for short), a mixture of bacteria, yeast and mould. These microbes are inert until activated by wet food waste. The microbes ferment the food waste and leave it looking similar to its original state, partly broken down and ready for accelerated composting.

How to set up a Bokashi Bucket system?

  1. Two Bokashi buckets with tightly fitted lids. Buy buckets specially designed for a Bokashi system. They are fitted with a tap near the bottom which allows you to collect excess liquid from the mixture. The fermentation process takes up to 2 weeks, so you need one bucket to add your waste to and one bucket in which fermentation takes place.
  2. A bag of Bokashi Bran.

What is required?

  1. Place ½ cup of Bran into the bucket.
  2. Add daily food waste to the bin. The process works best when large pieces are chopped into smaller pieces.  The size of a golf ball is the maximum size guideline.
  3. You can also add any compostable food packaging that can be home composted to your bucket. It can be helpful to shred the packaging before putting it in.
  4. Sprinkle Bran over the food waste – approximately 2 tablespoons per 5cm of food waste. Double that if adding very fatty foods, meat, fish or dairy.
  5. Compact the food waste down to eliminate any excess air and keep the lid tightly sealed.
  6. If there is a lot of liquid, siphon some off using the tap. This liquid can be diluted (approx. 300:1) to feed plants or poured down drains to keep them unblocked.
  7. When the bin is ¾ full, sprinkle another ½ cup of bran on top and allow the bucket to stand for 2 weeks.

What can be done with the finished product?

  1. Dig it into the ground. Find a bit of ground and dig it in and cover with soil. It will turn into rich wholesome soil within a couple of weeks.  Sow seeds on top or leave it for 2 weeks before planting established plants.
  2. Put it on the compost heap. It will compost quickly and accelerate the composting of the rest of the material in the heap.
  3. Make potting soil. Layer fermented food waste and soil in a bucket and allow it to stand 2 two weeks until the food waste is no longer recognisable.  The result; a bucket of lovely rich potting soil.
  4. Donate the contents to a friend, neighbour, school or local community garden. There’s always someone who can use a bit of compost.
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