Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bucket Boo-Boos

What not to put in your bokashi bucket

If you could put it in a compost bin or pile, it can probably go in the bucket, too, though dried materials receive no benefit from fermentation. An indoor bucket with spigot is most appropriate for high-nutrient items, that is to say kitchen waste, as opposed to lawn clippings and dried leaves. (As yet, I’ve found little information on fermentation as a sterilizer of weed seeds, but I’m still learning!)

You can put some things in a bokashi bucket that shouldn’t go in a traditional compost bin or pile—meat scraps, dairy, and oils, plus crushed shrimp shells and fishheads and small or broken-up bones; pretty much all your non-liquid foodstuff remains. But there are some things that should never, ever go in your bokashi bucket, and others that ought to be included only in small quantities.

The No-No’s:

*No synthetics—plastics, cleansers, rubbers, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, etc.

*No used cat litter or human waste

*No diseased plant or animal remains

*No living things (insects, worms, etc.)

This seems like common sense, doesn’t it?

Only a little:

*limited liquid food waste (beer, milk, yogurt, juice, etc.)

Too much moisture impedes fermentation

* selected molded/spoiled foodstuffs

And not at all during the first couple of days (more on that in another post)

Oddly, bokashi pioneer Dr. Teuro Higa recommends that tea bags not be added, but he seems to be a minority of one in that regard.

So now, if you have your bucket and EM bokashi bran, you’re well on your way to having fermented kitchen waste. Sounds...delightful, doesn’t it? And let’s not forget about that bokashi juice.


Damming the trashstream to a trickle,



Anonymous said...

why no human waste or diseased animal remains?

bactirea, like worms, mitigate toxicity of all varieties, whether micro-biological or chemical..

it seems to me this would be a good way to break down the baddies. & then feed them to the worm bin to destroy any remaining coloform bactirea, in indeed they could remain at all from the fermentation..?

D. S. Foxx said...


tl;dr: You'd want a separate facility for that, not a bucket. Yes, it will work _as proposed_, but take care.

(much) longer answer:

The usual bucket set-up involves draining liquid at least a few times during the fermentation process. This bokashi juice is used *fresh* as a concentrated plant food, among other things. Bokashi-fermented material is most commonly used as a moderate-release fertilizer, notably by home pottagers (food gardeners) so you don't want anything in your bucket that isn't safe to use when growing food.

It's generally recommended that materials known or suspected to contain pathogens not be used anywhere near food production without at least eighteen months of controlled degradation. Anaerobic fermentation using bokashi can, of course, be used as a part of that controlled process (and there are some studies that at least suggest it can shave off some of the time) but the usual bokashi bucket isn't designed for a longer-term, multi-stage process.

So long as you use proper procedure, microbial fermenters can be used with a dedicated pet-waste wormery; presumably, human waste wouldn't pose much more of a problem, though I can't say I've tried that one yet.

They use EM when cleaning up after disasters, including sewage overflows, but I don't remember seeing any stats on feasibility of using household-concentration microbial sources for waste treatment. Which doesn't mean it isn't possible, but I certainly wouldn't be trying it.

Somewhere in my files, I have some reports the efficacy of worms as waste treatment...IIRC, results depended largely on the population density, so varied too greatly to ensure safety without testing. Pre-fermenting would seem to be a great idea! But I'd be doing it someplace far, far away from anywhere I grow foodstuffs.

Or plan to in the near future.

Happy fermenting!