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

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

This article is a sequel from the article What is Bokashi and how does it work? (Part I)If you want to understand this article, please read Part I first.


How many containers do I need?

As a general rule, two containers are required: as soon as one is filled, it must rest for at least 2 weeks to finish the fermentation process. In the meantime, continue to add food scraps to the 2nd bucket. As, on average, it takes 2 weeks to fill a bucket, once the 2nd one is full it is an indication that you should bury the contents of the 1st bucket to finish the decomposition process.

However, it is not necessary to have 2 containers. You can compost using just one: as soon as you finish filling the bucket, put it to rest. In the meantime, freeze the leftover food you collect and, as soon as you release the contents of the bucket after 2 weeks, add the frozen leftovers to the bucket.


The container stinks: what now?

During the bokashi process there should be no unpleasant odors, just a slight vinegary smell due to fermentation. If the bucket has a putrefying smell, it is a sign that something has not gone well and the contents must be buried in the garden or thrown away to start over again.

Some reasons:

. the lid was not closed properly – keep the lid tightly closed and avoid opening it constantly. Choose a time of the day to add leftovers to the bucket;

. air pockets – knead well after adding the remains to the bucket;

. insufficient amount of bokashi mixture – add more mixture and twice as much with the remains of meat, fish, dairy products and fats;

. excess liquid inside the container -> drain the bucket more often, avoid adding liquids;

. add dry scraps, such as bread, newsprint or napkins.


Fungi are growing: is it normal?

Yes, it is normal to see white fungi growing on the remains. However, if the fungus is of a different color and the bucket stink, you should bury its contents together with a little bokashi and sugar mixture and wait a month before planting. Alternatively, you can dispose of the contents in the waste.


The container is full: what to do next?

Cover the bucket tightly and place it in a sheltered area for at least 2 weeks to complete the fermentation process. Then, you can bury the contents of the bucket in the garden and wait another 2 weeks before planting.


I don’t have a garden. What can I do to the result of the fermentation process?

If you don’t have a garden, here are your options:

. donate to friends or neighbors with garden;

. make a “soil factory": in a bucket, add soil to the bottom, add a layer of pre-compost and mix. Cover with earth and protect with a lid or a plastic. Wait 1 month until ready to use as soil.


What do I do with the liquid that comes out of the container?

The liquid is rich in microorganisms and nutrients from fermentation. It should be drained several times a week and used on the same day. As a plant fertilizer, dilute 2 teaspoons of liquid in 1 L of water. You should not use the liquid directly on plants, but it can be poured directly down the drain.


What to do if on vacation?

Holidays are an opportunity to finish the fermentation process. Before going on vacation, drain the liquid from the bucket, add more bokashi mixture, and close the lid tightly. Just let the bucket rest and, when you return, you have pre-compost ready to be buried in the garden!


How do I know it is working?

In the bokashi method, there is no change in the volume or appearance of the food scraps. As I said above, the organic matter undergoes a fermentation process and therefore, there may be a vinegary smell when the bucket is opened. As long as it does not smell badly or has fungi that are not white, the process is proceeding normally.


Where can I buy the equipment and the bokashi mixture?

In Portugal, you can buy the complete Organko brand kit at FNAC stores. The same brand has the Organko 2 kit, with a more modern design but higher price. Other alternatives are online shopping, where you can compare prices and models.


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