My Year Of Bokashi Composting.

I originally started drafting this post a week or so ago but encountered some technical difficulties. Resulting in my loosing half the content! I was devastated, I’ve tried to piece together what I originally wrote but it’s never quite the same. I’m sure we’ve all experienced this be it blogging or back in our college or school days. However in a strange turn of events I found out this week that it’s International Compost Awareness Week now between the Sunday 6th and Sunday 12th of May, a perfect time to post my blog entry on my composting adventures. So read on and embrace composting!

Some Bokashi Bin contents.

I love composting. I’d even stretch to say I’m becoming mildly obsessed with it. We take it very seriously down at 18a. I come from a long line of compost enthusiasts. My brother and I used spend many a happy summers day clambering up our fathers grassy compost heap. I was always the King of the compost castle!

Living in a flat, before we got our allotment my composting instinct had been stifled somewhat. Despite our council, Haringey, collecting garden and kitchen scraps flat blocks are sadly exempt. So when we first got our allotment, composting was one of the first things we did. In total we have 3 Compost bins of various shapes and sizes. One council open bottomed ‘Dalek’ style and two repurposed black refuse bins (with holes drilled in). Out of all three the Dalek worked best. However soon after we really got going our composting efforts began to attract unwanted guests. Rats!!

We were heartbroken. What could we do? Rats unfortunately are a common resident of suburban and urban allotments. We tried everything to keep them out. Lining the base with metal wire, burying the bin slightly, using mint as a deterrent and even flushing out the rats. But nothing worked, they kept coming back. Rats aren’t silly they never forget where they’ve had a good meal.

We were getting desperate. After a bit of research I came across a relatively new method of composting, Bokashi. Developed in Japan Bokashi (Meaning fermentation in Japanese) is the method of composting that involves fermentation. Using a special bin and bran imbedded with good bacteria, a micro-organisms which creates an anaerobic process. Basically it pickles your scraps! In our house we get through a lot of kitchen scraps so we soon fill our bokashi bin. In goes all our fruit and vegetable peelings (often mouldy bread or off cheeses to boot) with a layer of bran between additions. Taking around a fortnight to fill and another fortnight to leave to ferment further. After the two weeks fermentation we turn out our bounty into our Dalek compost bin. The results are a quite pongy, a sort of sickly sweet pickle. On first observation you might think that nothing as happened as the contents look on the whole exactly the same. But that’s the magic! Their whole microbiology has been altered, they’ve been zombified! Depending on the time of year and temperature, when buried or turned out to further compost it can completely decompose in around 2 weeks.

One rat free Bokashi-composting-nirvana year later we turned out our bin to find some lovely earthy smelling compost, we’d struck black gold! Although Bokashi composting can be expensive , you really need two bins to get a rotation going and the bran doesn’t come cheap, it’s really worked wonders for us. Despite the odd visit from a curious rodent, we’ve remained on the whole ratty free. They just don’t seem to find our zombie scraps appealing.

Wiggly Worms
Black Gold!
Compost Worms

My musings on composting.

  • Newspaper seems to absorb too much water so sluggish to compost. Especially those with heavy coloured inks.
  • Strawberry crowns never seem to rot. Their invincible! They take an age to compost and may contain soil borne diseases.
  • Too many onions should be avoided. They decompose slowly, I once found a whole onion in perfect condition in the bottom of my bin! Worms do not like onions or garlic so go easy on the Allium.
  • Egg shells do take a long time to decompose but are an excellent source of carbon.
  • Don’t be afraid to put ‘odd’ things in your bokashi bin. I put stale mouldy bread and cheese, stale dried pastas or rice, cooked leftover scraps. If it was once living anything goes! You can even put in meat and bones. Though being a vegetarian household we don’t have much call for these!
  • Drain the Bokashi juice regularly. But don’t just pour away. Dilute to use as a plant feed, add to compost bin as an activator or pour it down a sink plughole as a drain unblocker.
  • Keep your compost heap moist but not drenched.
  • Keep your bokashi bin nice and compacted. Air is bad. When turned out it looks a bit like a vegetable terine!
  • Experiment with your ‘Browns’. I’ve used all sorts; egg boxes, cardboard, jute string, paper bags, napkins, shredded paper, toilet roll tubes, hair out my hairbrush (sorry if that sounds gross), Dust from the vacuum cleaner,  jute sacks and other natural fibres.
  • Comfrey leaves, chicken poop pellets, (ahem) urine and Bokashi bin juice all make excellent activators.
  • Love your worms.
Happy Composting. Crafty Garden Hoe x

Recycle Now

A good article of Bokashi Composting by Alys Fowler for the Guardian

A rather good post on Fennel & Fern about Bokashi

100 things to compost.

Author: Crafty Garden Hoe

For me it’s all about the simple things in life. Pottering around my allotment, growing things indoors and out, baking a good cake, being outside, pretty things, vintage finds and a good pot of tea. It’s all the small things that make me tick, noticing the beauty in everyday things. Although this blog initially was intended to be a blog about all these things its evolved into being basically a blog about our allotment. Our adventures, highs and lows, wins and loses. So join me & Mr Wilson as we learn from our mistakes and successes down plot 18a.

14 thoughts on “My Year Of Bokashi Composting.”

      1. If you buy paper tea bags (like clipper teas) the bags will break down. I am getting more and more frustrated with the sudden explosion in nylon tea bags, which will never break down.

      2. Hi Mel
        I use Clipper tea mostly myself but even Clipper admit that their bags are not 100% compostable, around 80%. Their teabags are composed of vegetable and wood fibres and are sealed with a low level of polypropylene to stop them ripping. Just take longer to compost. This is a good article in the Guardian from a couple of years ago.

        These days I love a good cuppa with lovely big loose leaf tea. 🙂

  1. I’ve never really though of compost as black gold, but I guess you are right.

    Thanks for all the tips – some I already knew, but there are a few I didn’t have a clue.

    Nina xxx

  2. Well I never (regarding the clipper tea bags)! I have to use loose leaf tea these days, since the Dutch have no idea that a cup of tea should be brewed with more than one tea leaf! Just kidding – but they do like much weaker tea than we do.
    This also means that I rarely drink just black tea these days, as I like to blend up my own with flowers and herbs too.

  3. It suprised me too! Interesting that only one brand is 100% (at the date of the article), Jacksons of Picadilly. Loose leaf makes a much nicer cup of tea I find. Shame on the Dutch with their weak teas! No one makes a cuppa like us Brits 🙂

    Blending your own with flowers and herbs sounds lovely. I drink a lot of fennel tea from seeds we harvest down the allotment.

  4. Great to hear you’re getting on well with Bokashi. It really is the way forward! I love your line about it coming out of the bin like a vegetable terine – it’s so true haha!

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