Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tales from the Bucket: Eureka!

The last batch isn’t compost yet. Not mature nor fully homogenous, I mean. But it’s at the stage some composter-retailers refer to as “mulch”. Not bad for just over two weeks! And it’s clearly going to finish. So I can say, finally:

It works.

“It” is what I started this blog-project to find: a way to--without soil--compost small volumes of bokashi. This particular batch is a mix of cured bokashi and dried leaves, without a single bit of soil save whatever was swept in with the patio cleaning.* And it’s not the first batch. In different volumes and different though similar containers, I have successively, successfully, composted dried leaves and bokashi. Like the guy in the tub said. I have found it.

At least, I have found a process that works for me. In Texas, in near-summer heat. For those not so blessed, I have no idea.

Beyond an approximately equal volume of cured bokashi and dried leaves, plus some source of soil microbes (e.g. A handful of mature compost or good garden soil), this needs:

1. A black plastic container with

2. Bottom drainage

3. A weight and cover

4. Placement in full sun

5. Regular stirring

That’s all that’s necessary. The sun-heated black plastic helps to mimic the conditions of a traditional large pile, with the weight standing in for the missing volume**; the cover keeps out undesirables of whatever size or form; and the stirring introduces the oxygen aerobic microbes need.

So very simple. I should have figured it out long since! But I kept sticking my test containers under the porch, out of the way--and in deep shade. Or behind planters, to keep them out of sight, which also meant out of the sun. And though I did try several different containers, none were black plastic, as I don’t have much of that.

Took me a while, but I got it at last. Yes, it is possible to compost bokashi without a full-size composter or in-ground trench, with soil or without. And as an added benefit, it appears this small-batch composting uses less water--I’ve added no water at all to any of the one-gallon sets, and rarely to the six. How cool is that? Water-conserving composting!

It’s still not the perfect urban solution, at least not for all urbs. Not an indoor solution at all (vermicomposting bokashi may be, if you get past the heating). Not a solution for the high-rise dweller who sees no leaves from season to season. Nor for the snow-coast dweller who takes on faith all our claims of the sun’s heat.

But it works for me! Dried leaves are an extremely renewable resource around here, available year-round and absolutely free, so I’ll be limited in my compost production only by available sunny space and available cured bokashi.

Wow. I found the answer--or an answer, anyway--that I set out to find. Does this mean I’m finished? But I did find some more questions along the way...

I am keeping Trey, as vermicomposting conveys additional benefits. And, too, I kind of like him. Outdoors. Might even keep the whole set, but I expect Vernopolis shall soon be joined by large black plastic planters stacked one atop the next, and the neighbors will have new evidence of my insanity as I cackle over my pure leafy bokashi compost. “It’s gold! Gold, I tell’s ya!”

Maybe they’ll just think I’m drunk. You know, all that fermenting.


Cackling already,


*Hey, I’ve seen earthworms up there, not to mention snails and geckos. Trust me, there are soil microbes around.

**I think. Have I mentioned that I’m not a scientist -G-

image from: http://www.math.nyu.edu/~crorres/Archimedes/Crown/Vitruvius.html


Shah said...

Nice site.

D. S. Foxx said...

Thanks! And welcome.