What is Bokashi and how does it work? (Part I)

Article written by Sara Silva, founder of the project No Footprint Nomads.

Bokashi is a fermentation process in which certain microorganisms are added to organic matter that is digested in the absence of oxygen. After fermentation, which takes place inside the bucket, the so-called pre-compost is buried in the soil for a few weeks to finish the decomposition process. The result is a compost rich in nutrients and microorganisms that benefit plants.


How to begin?


The process is simple: 1) add leftovers to the container, 2) spread a little of the bokashi mixture (powder), 3) close the container to prevent air from entering. Repeat steps 1-3 until the container is full. Once filled, close the lid and let it stand for 2 weeks to complete the fermentation process.

Then, bury the remains of the container in the garden, in a compost pile or in a vase. Wait about 2 weeks before planting for the decomposition process to finish. After 2 weeks, the result is a soil rich in nutrients and microrganisms that your plants will love.


What in the bokashi mixture? And how much should I use?


In order for fermentation to occur, a mixture is added to the container, which is, in essence, the catalyst of the biological process. This mixture, called bokashi, is a combination of effective microorganisms or EM, water, sugar and bran. Microorganisms are bacteria, yeasts, and actinomycetes that coexist and collaborate in the fermentation process and in the formation of quality soil.

Regarding the amount, more is always better. For each inch of organic matter, add about 2 heaping tablespoons of bokashi mixture and mix.

What can / cannot be added to the container?

The beauty of treating organic waste with this method is that practically everything can be added to the container:

– fruit and vegetable scraps (cut in small pieces);

– bread;

– citrus fruit;

– meat and fish scraps (cooked or raw);

– small bones;

– dairy;

– egg shells (in pieces);

– shells (in pieces);

– tea bags (as long as they do not contain plastic!);

– coffee grounds;

– flowers;

– newsprint and napkins (small amount).

You should avoid adding liquids, moldy food and very large bones (they take a long time to break up).


How long does the process take in full?


Between filling the bucket and having a rich compost to be able to plant in your garden, the process takes about 4 to 6 weeks. On average, it takes 2 weeks to fill a container but this value depends on the amount of waste that is produced, the capacity of the bucket and the temperature. After filling the bucket, it takes another 2 weeks to complete the fermentation process. Then, bury the contents of the bucket and wait another 2 weeks until there is a complete decomposition and you are ready for planting.

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