Thursday, September 1, 2011

Kitchen Bokashi Series: Part 4 - Fermenting Food Scraps and Using the Finished Product

Layered fermenting food scraps
With inoculated carrier, the production of kitchen bokashi can begin.

Using a plastic bucket with an air-tight lid, begin by adding a layer of newspaper or cardboard on the bottom. This helps to soak up excess liquid. Then place a handful of fermented starter mix in the bottom of the bucket.

Begin layering unrotten food scraps inside the bucket and scatter a thin layer of fermented starter mix on top of the material. Thick layers of carrier are not necessary. But at the minimum, I would apply a scattering of carrier to at least every one-inch layer of food scraps. To increase anaerobic conditions, press down on the food scraps inside the bucket to eliminate air spaces.

Finished bokashi being
buried in the garden
Also as the buckets and lids that I use are not completely airtight, I employ plastic bags to help seal the lids. And to lessen contact with air even more, I also place of layer of plastic bags on top of the compacted materials and weigh it all down with a heavy wooden chopping block.

Continue layering in such fashion until the bucket is full.

To keep mess to a minimum, I also try to exclude liquid (such as gravy) from the bucket. However, some commercial kitchen bokashi buckets come equipped with spigots that allow liquid “bokashi tea” to be easily removed, diluted with water and used to nourish plants.

Once the bucket is full then set it aside and allow it to ferment with the lid tightly closed for at least two more weeks. Afterward, bury the bokashi in holes or trenches in the garden under at least 15 cm of soil. If you uncover the bokashi before it has finished composting it may have a strong, unpleasant smell.

Kitchen bokashi composted in the soil
After some weeks (depending on conditions), the fermented kitchen bokashi will convert into a composted, soil-like material. When the composting process is done then the former food waste should not have any bad odor.

The finished kitchen bokashi will add nutrients and microbes to the soil and contribute to improved soil structure. Worms, arthropods and other small creatures, indicators of soil health, will relish in the compost. Your crops will like it too.