Friday, October 10, 2008

Not technically EM(TM), but is it effective?


I am still quite new to bokashi, which is fairly new itself. Unlike Indore (optimized layering) composting, that’s been around long enough for knowledge to have been passed down through generations—I learned from my grandmother—bokashi is younger than I am.

Young enough to still be evolving. Lisa’s solution is “bokashi powder” made from flour instead of bran. Odd idea to me, to whom flour still equals food, where bran and other carrier agents may not, but it’s an interesting new development. I’m quite curious to see how well it works.

Thanks to Al Pasternak, who twittered about it first, and the unsung hero who mentioned the free sample offer. And, of course, to Lisa. There’ll be a new test-bucket set up soon.


“It’s only an effective composting method if you end up with compost.”

What to do with the bokashi after curing remains the # 1 question on the forums and open-comment sites I’ve been perusing, with few really satisfying answers beyond planter composting for those of us without gardens or at least access to bit of, y’know, earth. I did turn up a few remarks from couple of people who mix bokashi with large volumes of old soil-based potting mix or soil, cover, and wait, creating humus-rich planting material for next season; the fastest-reported conversion of those is under a month. Call it
plant-free planter composting:

When the first one [bucket of bokashi] is ready [full]-- usually about two weeks
-- it will smell a bit like fresh pickles. The fermented mass is then buried in
a garden bed or in a large (10-gallon-plus) container of soil. After two to four
weeks, the mass has been converted to compost and is almost undetectable.

Did this mean ten gallons of soil plus five gallons of bokashi? When I was in school, they used to call this an “exercise for the reader.” Meaning, go figure it out! So I did. From personal experience, I can now report that this works at a one-to-one soil-to-bokashi ratio, not sealed but simply lidded enough to keep out rain and raccoons.

Compost, from bokashi’d waste, without a bin. Yippee! Not, however, a satisfactory solution for me—my current test substitutes dried leaf matter for most of that soil, since dirt isn’t, for the landless gardener, anywhere near “dirt cheap”!

There are other post-bucket tests in progess, but I don’t want to jinx them by speaking writing too soon. -G-

Of course, it’s quite possible someone’s already done all of this, and I’m just behind the curve. Most of my information on the bokashi process thus far has come from various online sources—Dr. Higa’s books are not in the stacks at my local public library, but several of his reports and speeches are posted here and there, as are excerpts relevant to the home bokashi bucketer, and several bokashi retailers are making efforts to educate as well as sell. But as with any new technique, questions remain and there are lags in the passing on of new knowledge.

Even at cyber-speeds, where a decent twitter can spread, as they say, virally. (Is that faster than bacterially? -VBG-) If you have had success with bokashi, tell someone! Preferably someone who might follow your lead.

Back to the buckets,


1 comment:

DeDe said...

I'm not sure anyone else would consider my bokashi experience a success, but I do. Sure, it smelled like hell on earth, BUT my compost worms loved it, and I get to try out a new experiment on burial remediation without the benefit of land.

Still, I can't wait to start my next bokashi bucket and see where that adventure takes me. :-)