Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bokashi Compost

gardening with dogsComposting to Super Charge Your Garden

My daughters and I are in full preparation mode for Spring planting.Besides planting seedlings and drawing up our intricately detailed maps for the two gardens, this year involves the girls having their own compost bins. Rather than divide our efforts with smaller bins that would simply feed into our larger urban composter out back, we decided they would experiment with direct composting, and to that end, keeping their own small bokashi compost systems.

Augmenting With Bokashi Compost
Bokashi composting is similar to the traditional compost bin bio-digestor method with a just few critical variations. In this way, the decomposition of organic material is centered around a fermentation process, where feeder material is added to a closed container and allowed to stew about in anaerobic bliss. With the addition of the bokashi inoculate EM-1 and a fermenting grain such as rice, oats, or bran, the system pickles food waste in half the time as an aerobic process and produces an easily harvested compost tea that can be used on houseplants as well. Any organic material can be used, including meats, as the closed fermentation deals with any obnoxious odor.

Single Bucket System

My 7-year-old opted to start her bokashi compost using the single bucket method. After a trip to our local hardware store she has a manageable 5-gallon food grade bucket with a tight fitting lid sitting by the back door. For panache, she drew lilies and monarch butterflies around the sides, ensuring her sister doesn't mix up the bins. After every meal, she empties any plate scraps, minus bones, into the bucket and adds a sprinkle of the bokashi mix. After the bucket is filled, we'll haul it out to the garden to spread the love.

Double Bucket for Tea

My 5-year-old decided to run a double-bucket bokashi compost bin in order to use the tea it will produce. To make one of these, we used two matching food-grade buckets, one slipped inside the other. For the top-nesting composter, I drilled a series of holes along the bottom edge to allow fluids to leak through to a lower collector bin. This second bucket is fitted with a spigot found at our local home brew shop, and every once in a while she'll open the tap and collect the condensed tea to use on plants around the house. To apply, she adds 1 part tea to 10 parts water, and feeds normally. Already, the ficus looks like it's been injected with steroids.

Garden Application of Bokashi Compost

The bokashi composted material is added directly to the garden, much like sheet composting. The difference is the bokashi has begun breaking down in the fermentation process and will be completed within 2 weeks. Last week, I dug an 8" deep trench in a fallow portion of the garden to bury my pickled gold. This depth introduces the nutrients deep where roots will search them out, as well as masking any odors than would otherwise attract animals looking for a good snack. Once it's time for planting, we will simply position our selected vegetables or flowers over the composting bokashi mix and watch it take off.

We're expecting huge results in our urban backyard garden this year, and are looking with excitement to our growing season.