Bokashi is an odorless, space-saving, mess-free composting system will turn kitchen scraps into nutritious plant food in as little as  a month.

By Yvette Tan

Want to try your hand at composting but don’t have enough space? Or perhaps your household produces a lot of kitchen scraps and you feel bad that these nutrient-rich leftovers can’t be thrown into the composting bin?

Bokashi is Japanese for ‘fermented organic matter.’ Bokashi composting is a composting process that most known for two things: being able to break down kitchen scraps that regular compsoting cannot, and for being relatively odorless when done correctly. The reason for this is because bokashi uses an anaerobic process (no air) to break down organic kitchen waste into nutritious plant fertilizer. “In the urban setting, it’s really hard to compost. Manila produces 75 tons of waste a year. All of that goes straight to the dumpsite,” says Gio Espital, bokashi composting enthusiast and the farmer behind ELMNTM: Elements of Tomorrow mushrooms and Bangkong Kahoy Valley Farm.

It’s a good setup for urban dwellers who want to try their hand at making organic fertilizer. “A lot of organic household waste (needs to be) put to good use,” Espital continues. “This is important because we’re running out of dump sites and the amount of trash we throw out greatly affects our water table.”

Starting your own bokashi compost bin is easy, and can be done either with pre-made kits or materials found in any hardware store.

You will need:
– an airtight bucket
– a strainer that fits inside bucket (to separate solid from liquid waste)
– a faucet fitted onto the bottom of the bucket to get rid of ‘juice’
bokashi bran

Instructions:
1. Make sure your tub is clean. Place the screen at the bottom of the clean tub. This will help separate the bokashi juice from the compost.

2. To begin composting, place a handful of bokasi bran into the empty tub. Fill it up with 1 inch of kitchen waste. Throw in another fistful of bokashi bran.

3. Cover the bucket. Make sure that it is airtight. Air must be kept out to prevent mold and maggots. Nobody wants maggots! It also keeps the compost from stinking.

4. Repeat step 2 every time you need to put in waste. The compost should smell fermented and sweetish.

5. When the bucket is half-full, press the compost down. Don’t use your bare hands to do this! Make sure you wear gloves. You can also use something heavy to help you compress the compost.

6. Once the bucket is full, label it with the day’s date and wait two weeks for your first ‘harvest.’

7. After two weeks, you can harvest bokashi ‘juice.’ Just turn on the faucet and collect the liquid in a bottle with 1-2 tsp molasses or brown sugar. The juice is packed with microbiotics.

To use bokashi juice:
Measure 2 tbsp. of bokashi juice to one liter of water and use as plant fertilizer. Do not spray directly onto the plant; instead, spray fertilizer straight onto surrounding soil.

7. After two more weeks, the compost is ready for harvest. At this stage, the compost won’t look like dirt; it’ll still look like whatever organic matter it was when placed into the bin, but rest assured that at this point, it’s crawling with good bacteria.

To use bokashi compost:
Newly harvested bokashi compost can be buried with regular compost. It can later be used to pot plants or to provide vermiculture with a nutritiously rich supply of food.

8. Bury your bokashi compost like you do with regular compost, thoroughly clean your bokashi bucket, and start again!

Don’t panic if: it smells rotten. It could mean that the container needs to be sealed tight, or the compost lacks good bacteria. If this happens, throw in some bokashi bran and remember to make sure the bucket is airtight whenever you close it.

Don’t panic if: you see white mold. This is normal. Mold of any other color, however, is not. If your compost has green or orange mold, get rid of it by adding more bokashi bran until the mycelium turns white.

Don’t panic if: you see maggots in your tub. That just means the tub isn’t airtight. Remember to seal it properly every time afterwards. The maggots will die and become part of the compost.

Is bokashi composting hard? Not at all, according to Espital. “You just need to commit to it. In farming, whether in urban farming or mass farming, time is key.” He adds, “This is the fastest composting method out there.”

One of the nice things about bokash composting is “Anybody can do it,” Espital says. “It’s perfect for schools so they can teach kids how to save and make use of their waste. It’s also good for households who generate a lot of organic waste.”

 

Everything you need to start bokashi composting. Fancy sticker not included.

There are many resources online that can teach you how to make your own bokashi bucket and how to properly handle the composting process [ https://www.growveg.com/guides/bokashi-composting-cooked-food-waste-for-your-garden/ ], but just in case you want to get started right away, ELMNTM has bokashi kits for sale for Php500.00

Each kit comes with a bucket and faucet setup, a kilo of bokashi bran, and a small bottle of molasses. For inquiries, email hello@elmntm.com or message them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/elmntm/