Monday, August 25, 2008

What the *$#%& is bokashi?

Bokashi is:

A) A Japanese term meaning “fermented” or “fermented organic matter”

B) The commercial name for EM (effective microbes) in a carrier, typically wheat or rice bran

C) Non-methane-producing waste disposal solution

D) All of the above.

Sometimes called indoor composting—though technically it isn’t—bokashi ferments kitchen waste, essentially pickling waste produce, meat scraps, etc. This anaerobic process requires no light or airflow, has no effective minimum volume, and creates little odor. So it’s quite possible to do indoors, say, in a cabinet under the sink.

Or right next to the kitchen wastebasket, for those of us who need reminding. -G-

The end result is not compost, but a lowered-volume fermented product that can be composted quickly from that point. As a bonus, the probiotic liquid produced, affectionately called “bokashi juice,” can be used as a soil conditioner, plant food, and (supposedly) in a hundred other household, agricultural and commercial applications.

Okay, fine, pour the juice down the drain and call it septic system maintenance. But that still leaves the solids; something will have to be done with that bucket full of fermented waste. What about the apartment-dweller without a compost pile?

Here’s what sold me on the concept: cured bokashi can be finished by composting in small batches, or even added to planters, there to finish breaking down into slow-release fertilizer during the growing process. The bokashi composter may need to find an out-of-the-way corner for a second bucket to cure while one is being fed, and a bit of earth to compost any bokashi not being planter-filler, but not necessarily so much space as a traditional compost pile, nor for so long a time.

Hey, by the time my landlord saw it, it might be ready to sift onto his precious rose-bed!

Sounds like the right solution for my circumstances. If you, too, are interested, check out the links and resources (a growing list, naturally) and check back from time to time. I’ll be trying a few different things with my bokashi, from different EM products and buckets to maybe even harvesting some indigenous microorganisms of my own. And, of course, various ways to finish the pickled waste.



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