How Bokashi Kitchen Composters

It Must Be Green | Health, Home & Garden | Garden | Composters | Bokashi Compost Bins
 |  How Bokashi Kitchen Composters

These fabulous Bokashi Kitchen Composters allow you to compost 100% of your waste when used in conjunction with a traditional Compost Bin or Wormery.

You simply place kitchen waste into the airtight container and sprinkle with a handful of Bokashi (Japanese for 'fermentation'). Bokashi is a bran based material made with a culture of micro-organisms and molasses which begins to ferment the waste allowing you to turn ALL your kitchen waste into nutrient rich compost. This includes meat, fish, dairy products and cooked food.

The Bokashi performs the first stages of decomposition using the active micro-organisms. Then, after a little patience, the contents can be safely transferred from the Bokashi Bucket into a traditional garden compost bin, your Wormery or simply dug into the garden as a soil conditioner and improver where the process will finish itself off.

Like a Wormery Liquid feed is also captured and can be drained off through the tap at the bottom of the bucket. This liquid is alive with beneficial microbes and, when diluted, is a very nutritious plant feed. It can also be used to prevent algae build-up and odours when poured down the drain.

The process is odourless and doesn't attract flies so the Bokashi Bucket container can be safely kept in the kitchen and used as a kitchen caddy.
Q: Does the anaerobic digestion of the food waste in the Bokashi composter produce methane?
A: There are no exact statistics on methane production, but because the Bokashi kitchen composter works in a different way to standard compost bins the temperature reached in the composting process is considerably less – 40ºC as opposed to 70ºC. This makes the methane emissions virtually negligible.

Q: Where can I buy more bran?
A: Call 01491 836401 or order online at www.itmustbegreen.co.uk

Q: Why do the instructions for use say “No teabags should go into the Bokashi kitchen composter”?
A: This is a precautionary message because too many teabags will upset the mix of material. A maximum of five squeezed out teabags a day can be put into the Bokashi kitchen composter; however, it would be better to put them directly into your garden compost bin.

Q: Can I put loo roll/kitchen paper cardboard cores and used kitchen towel in my Bokashi composter?
A: Yes you can.

Q: Can the Bokashi composter cope with large bones?
A: It is recommended to chop bones into smaller pieces first.

Q: Can I put the Bokashi composter outside to digest?
A: The Bokashi kitchen composter can be placed outdoors. However, in colder conditions the fermentation process slows down, so it should be left to digest for an extra week (ie three weeks instead of two).

Q: The contents of my Bokashi composter smell bad; what should I do?
A: Check that the lid is closed properly. Use the tap to drain the liquid more frequently. Check that the tap is not dripping. Check that the inner drain tray is still in place, as it can fall out during emptying. Alternatively it could be that not enough Bokashi bran has been added.

Q: The contents of my Bokashi composter are mouldy; what should I do?
A: If the mould is white then the material is fermenting correctly and you should continue to use the bin in the normal way. If the mould is green then the material has failed to ferment and you should empty the bin into a black sack and put it out for rubbish collection. If your bin is taking some time to fill and green mould is starting to grow, don’t wait until it is full but put the lid on straight away and set it aside to digest for two weeks before emptying it.

Q: After two weeks the contents of my Bokashi composter look nearly unchanged, like it hasn't digested properly; is that normal?
A: Yes, but it does not mean that the digestion process has not begun. Despite the fact that it takes much longer for the food waste to completely rot down, two weeks are sufficient for the friendly bacteria in the bran to start the digestion process.

Q: Can the Bokashi composter contents be added to a wormery?
A: Yes it can. Other users have said that when they add the material to their wormery, the worms do migrate to it. However on their first attempt the worms were not keen, possibly because the material was too acidic. The solution was to add lime to the material before giving it to the worms.

Q: How long does a bag of bran last?
A: One bag of 600g lasts up to 2 months.

Q: How should I store the bran?
A: The bran is packaged suitably for storing in dry conditions at room temperature (not in extreme conditions of cold or too hot). If you prefer you could transfer the bran into an airtight plastic container.

Q: How quickly does the bran go off?
A: Currently there is no production date stated on the packaging. The bran has a shelf life of at least six months. The bran is prepared to order and never sits in the suppliers’ warehouse for longer than four weeks. There have never been any reports of deterioration of stock stored in appropriate conditions beyond this time frame.

Q: Is the bran certified 'organic'?
A: No, it is not. However, the Bokashi kitchen composter is being sold by many organic retailers.

Q: How is the bran produced?
A: The bran is a dry mixture of bran and molasses that has been inoculated with effective microorganisms (EM) a carefully controlled mixture of microscopic bacteria, yeasts and fungi that work together to speed up composting, suppress pathogens, prevent putrefaction and eliminate foul odours.
Hints and Tips On Composting

The great British scientist Charles Darwin of ‘theory of evolution’ and ‘natural selection’ fame spent 3 full years on his famous and revolutionary book ‘The Origin of the Species’. However and less well known, before this seminal work, he spent 10 years full-time studying and researching the activity of worms, invertebrates and micro organisms in what he called ‘the fermentation of vegetable matter – or as we call it, composting.
Composting is quite simply nature’s way of recycling dead organic matter.

Compost

- Has understandably been described as black gold.
- It returns nutrients, vitality and structure to the soil.
- It is a valuable resource for garden crops & flowers.
- It’s entirely natural and produces a valuable product
- It’s good for our environment – landfill; collection; transport etc (and we are running out of space)
- It can reduce your Council Tax! (well, reduce the rate of increase) - collecting, transporting and disposing of household and garden waste is very expensive.
- It’s free and saves you buying someone else’s waste – neatly pre-bagged but expensive.
- It helps break up clay soils.
- It improves water retention (less evaporation).
- It improves drainage.
- It increases worm activity (which is good for every part of the garden except, perhaps, the lawn!)


COMPOSTING IS EASY – AND EASY TO GET WRONG

All you need is a little knowledge and the right ingredients. We all have our own ideas of how to compost, some are successful and others are not. If you are happy with your method, then do not change. However, there are some BASIC PRINCIPLES which can help ensure success.

THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS

YES PLEASE:

- Grass clippings
- Leaves
- Weeds
- Dead Plants
- Food scraps (vegetable and fruit)
- Straw/hay
- Tea/coffee grounds
- Twigs/chopped wood
- Herbivorous pet waste – the small furies – guinea pigs, rabbits etc
- Cardboard
- Hair, dust waste, newspaper.

NO THANKS:

- Weeds gone to seed – they may germinate.
- Meat
- Grease
- Bones
- Dairy products
- Dog/cat waste – unpleasant / risk of toxicara virus
- Thick branches
- Diseased material
- Pernicious weeds – bindweed/cooch or twitch grass/ground elder

Now we know what can easily be composted what do we do?
The materials we can compost can be split into two lists: -

NITROGEN

- Food scraps
- Grass clippings ‘sappy’/’green’ waste
- Rotted manure
- Weeds

CARBON

- Woody twigs
- Wood chips
- Sawdust
- Straw ‘dryer/’brown’ waste
- Newspapers
- Leaves
- Cardboard


NITROGEN /GREEN = SAPPY/WET
CARBON / BROWN = WOODY/DRY



To get trouble-free compost it is best to have about
2 parts nitrogen
1 part carbon
They COMPLEMENT each other. Carbon traps the air (physically not chemically).

HOW TO COMPOST

Many gardens in summer have 99% grass clippings (i.e. Nitrogen)
What can be done?
Newspapers/cardboard scrunched up.

Winter
Twigs/woody stuff
Keep adding kitchen waste

ADDITIVES – Are they necessary?

This is a common question and there are several reputable products. A compost activator is simply a rich source of nitrogen. Don’t bother if you have a good mixture of waste. A good heap will build up micro-organisms quickly on its own – this can be helped by mixing the heap.

The cheapest and highly effective natural additive is, believe it or not, human urine. That said how you get it into the compost bin is up to you!

NOW WE HAVE THE INGREDIENTS, WHAT DO WE DO?

There are two main ways to make compost at home

The easy method (the lazy way – my way!)

- Add as you go
- Maintain 2 parts sappy/nitrogen
- 1 part woody/carbon
- Keep adding until the bin is full and well settled. Finished compost is at the bottom. Better still have 2 or more compost bins. When you start composting it’s amazing how much you can actually compost. I have a small garden but run 7 composters and a Wormery.

The quicker method

- Build up pile of material all at once (same Carbon / Nitrogen mix)
- Fill the bin all at once
- After 1 week, turn pile
- After 1 more week, turn pile again
- Cover pile with black polyethylene or 2nd composter then start again
- Compost will be ready in 3-4 months.
- Why use a composter?
-It’s quick, simple and tidy (nature works to its own timescale)

There are 4 key stages of composting:

- 55° F to 70° F bacteria called psychrophiles (sack-ro-files)
- 70° F to 90° F mesophiles come in to do the REAL work, They eat everything in sight. They can increase the temperature to 100° F then die out.
- 90° F upwards thermophiles do the really hot work. They last 3-5 days – the heap gets very hot! Too hot to handle! This helps to kill any weeds and seeds etc...

THIS IS THE TIME TO TURN THE HEAP!

This will pump more air (oxygen) into it and gives a better mix. When it cools down, there is still much improvement to go.

Worms, woodlice and other invertebrates move in (the worms can eat their own weight each day). All these beneficial creatures help to break the compost down to finish the job.


With all this going on, the heap needs a little protection – a Compost Bin.
Key features to look for:-

Size - The bigger the better – but it’s better to fill a small bin than to only half fill a larger one.
Colour - Dark is the best to absorb & retain heat.
Shape - Conical = good drainage and good air circulation
Solid - no air holes – weather. Aeration is critical but comes from having the correct mixture of compostable waste – the Carbon & Nitrogen mix. External vents in a compost bin serve only to aerate the outer layer of waste and in so doing cool and slow down the whole process. So although they may superficially sound like a good idea – so don’t be fooled by marketing gimmicks.

Doors - Not necessary, not better, not easier to use but popular – personal preference.

COMPOST – THE END PRODUCT

Don’t expect your compost to look exactly like the compost you can buy unless you are prepared to take the final step.You are producing a truly excellent soil conditioner rich in nutrients to use as a top dressing, mulch or dig into your garden. If you want it to look just like what you can buy from the Garden Centre – simply dry it out and run it through a garden sieve of griddle – on the other hand why bother – unless your planning to sell it at the local car boot sale!