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PhotobucketIf you are concerned about the environment but live in a city, have a small growing space or yard, or just don't feel like messing with large, outdoor compost bins like the compost strudel below, then bokashi composting might be the right method for you! Compost Streudel

Bokashi is a method of kitchen composting developed in Japan where the typical home is the size of a US bedroom and the typical kitchen could fit inside my shoe. Composting is facilitated by anaerobic microorganisms and takes place in a covered bucket under the sink.

I have been using this method off and on for several years. It cuts the amount of rubbish I need to cart to the street nearly in half, and eliminates nasty garbage odors.

I first learned about bokashi from a good friend who owns a landscaping business. It is a simple process which can be either moderately or ridiculously inexpensive depending on your equipment. I opted for the moderately inexpensive route because I am lazy and would rather spend time writing than messing around with garbage.


First, you need to gather your equipment. You can purchase a specialized bokashi bucket on the innertubes, or you can make one using newspaper and an airtight covered bucket. I chose to purchase mine because I wanted a spigot to drain off the extremely aromatic juice which can be mixed with water and used as plant food (the plants love it!), or poured down the drain to dissolve clogs, clean up a septic system, etc. I have Chinese Elm trees in my yard so, if I don't want to move the plumbers in on a permanent basis, I need to pour lime down my toilet twice a month. I would rather dump environmentally friendly bokashi juice instead.

Multiple sites are available should you choose to purchase. The price for a bucket usually ranges from $55 to $75. I keep two buckets. The kitchen composting phase of the process takes ten days. I am able to continuously compost by maintaining two buckets. They can be purchased from emerald earth or Gaiam to name a few.

The second item you will need is bokashi mix. Unless you want to whip up and store a fifty pound batch, you should buy your mix. Purchased mix is generally made from rice bran, blackstrap molasses, EM (effective microorganisms), and water. An order of mix may vary in size and will cost between $10 and $20.  You want to be generous in your use of the mix as it will produce better compost. Written instructions are included below the video.

  1. If you have puchased a bucket, put the seive into the bottom of the bucket to allow the juice to drain. Sprinkle about two inches of bokashi mix into the bottom, then place a few inches of food scraps over the mix. Bokashi works better if you chop the scraps into smaller pieces. You can include paper, bones, and meat scraps. As long as it is organic, it can be composted. Some companies even ship their mix in compostable plastic containers. (Tip: I dug a dog poop pit in my yard. I throw bokashi mix over the poop periodically. I noticed that there is an awful lot of unusually lush grass growing near that pit!)
  1. Continue doing this until your bucket is full. It takes me about a week to ten days to fill a bucket.  I feed four people (one of whom is an adolescent boy and one of whom runs hundred mile ultra-marathons), two large dogs and three cats, so we produce lots of waste! If you are a 70 year old woman living alone, it may take longer to fill your bucket. Your bucket should ferment at least ten days. Drain the juice every day or two and use it around the house. Plants love it but be CAREFUL to dilute it with water. I have accidentally spilled it on my kitchen floor with wonderful results. It cleans quite well although it smells a bit like vomit. Also, my dogs love to eat it. It is important to seal the bucket tightly as the bacteria must remain anaerobic. You can dump a bucketful into your outdoor compost heap to speed up the process of composting yard waste. Worms like it as much as dogs.
  1. In ten days, dig a hole in your backyard and bury the mix for several weeks. Be careful to make sure it is covered by at least eight inches of dirt if you have dogs and don't want them to dig it up and chow down. Bury it at least a foot from the roots of your plants or it will burn them. In two to four weeks, you can dig it up. you will find dark, rich compost.

Next week, I will discuss how to complete phase two if you live in a small apartment and can't bury your compost.

Happy composting!!!!

Crossposted from Blogistan Polytechnic Institute (

Originally posted to TheFatLadySings on Mon Aug 09, 2010 at 04:47 AM PDT.


Are you ready to do the bokashi with me?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good morning everyone! (34+ / 0-)

    I made a trip to Santa Fe this weekend to chat with the proprietor of Emerald Earth, a little niche store that sells bokashi equipment. I learned a lot. Next week I'll be posting about how to make your own bokashi mix and other EM-related topics.

    I blog on healthcare issues for Tikkun Daily as Lauren Reichelt.

    by TheFatLadySings on Mon Aug 09, 2010 at 04:46:35 AM PDT

  •  As a fellow urban composter (10+ / 0-)

    I am smiling about your photographs.
    I have one of those 'four coated rebar stakes surrounded by fencing' compost piles.  I don't have as expensive a composting setup as bokashi.  I have a plastic tub kept in the kitchen sink for veggie and fruit scraps. It goes into a fifteen gallon nursery flowerpot in the garden, that has a lid.  I stir it with a stick every once in a while, and dump it in the garden when it is full.
    I also have one enclosed corner of my backyard where I store black trash bags of leaves.  After six months or so, they make gorgeous leaf mold which goes in the garden.
    Composting is easy and cheap, but, I have a yard so I am not limited to kitchen composting.
    Thanks for the diary.

  •  Urban gardens on a grand scale.... (9+ / 0-)

    There is a lot of interest in urban gardening these days. Detroit might be the leader in urban food production. This article is from the Detroit News:

    Kroger is just one store that buys local when it can.  

    Don't tax the rich, starve the poor.

    by dkmich on Mon Aug 09, 2010 at 05:24:55 AM PDT

  •  Interesting (7+ / 0-)

    I never throw animal kitchen waste onto my compost, I'd heard that the animal fats 'clogged up the soil', whatever that means, so I always only throw plant waste onto the pile.

    Am I cynical? Yes I am! - Bob the Builder's lesser known brother Pete the Politician

    by Ezekial 23 20 on Mon Aug 09, 2010 at 05:37:32 AM PDT

  •  Great diary........... (7+ / 0-)

       ... We are in a rural area, so the compost pile is large, and turned with a tractor. Glad to see a fellow composter here, I suspect there are many more!

      Very interesting method described here, I think. Good for you! Peace....


    Compost for a greener piles?

    by Hoghead99 on Mon Aug 09, 2010 at 05:55:17 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for a great Furthermore, TFLS. :) (6+ / 0-)

    I couldn't resist "Three week old pie!" on the poll. Sorry. ::giggles::

    Composting is a great idea. I rinse and freeze most of our vegetable leavings (peels, stems, etc.) to put in the stockpot. Could I still compost them after?

  •  I compost lots of collected leaves.... (6+ / 0-)

      off a 2 acre site and mix my kitchen scraps onto the pile. I have a few piles that are 5-6 ft high. I go out about once every month and use a heavy string trimmer to further shred the compost and then shovel the compost onto a 3' x 3' sieve that I made with 1/2" hardware cloth (wire). I love to get my hands dirty so I move the compost around on top of the sieve a few times and all the small finished compost drops through into a Garden Way cart that allows the sieve to be about waist high for easy work. All the finished compost in the cart can then be directly applied to landscape plants or in the vegetable garden.

      The biggest problem I have is getting the pile hot enough to kill all the weed seeds. After hurricane Fran came though Raleigh in 1996, we had delivered the awful Japanese Stilt grass. The seeds seem to always survive even the hottest piles and they last for 3-5 years in the soil. They also change the soil composition evidently because it not only takes over areas very quickly but kills other plants in its way. It really like low light creek areas where ferns and other high moisture plants grow naturally. A large public park in Raleigh, Umstead Park , has declared war against the pest.

     Great diary. Looking forward to reading more.

    "Training is simply a stimulus being applied to the body with the purpose of getting a specific adaptation." Craig Ballantyne

    by NC Dem on Mon Aug 09, 2010 at 07:02:15 AM PDT

    •  That sounds extremely industrious. Do you have (4+ / 0-)

      pix? I can't quite picture it.

      I live in a small town. I have a third of an acre. The soil is not good and we are semi-arid. I have been looking at composting and EM as a way to improve the quality of my soil.

      The problem is aggravated by multitudes of grasshoppers. A few years ago, west nile virus killed 90% of the magpies off and the grasshoppers sweep through like locusts. I guess they are close relatives.

      I don't want to kill off all insects so I've been trying non chemical solutions like nolobait which hasn't helped much. Fortunately, I am starting to see magpies here and there again.

      I missed my chicken window this year. The husband doesn't want chickens but if they can turn grasshoppers into compost while producing eggs, I'm all for them!

      I blog on healthcare issues for Tikkun Daily as Lauren Reichelt.

      by TheFatLadySings on Mon Aug 09, 2010 at 07:30:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No pictures but what I have is a 26" (3+ / 0-)

            cart like the one pictured here. I actually have two and they are very old. I used to sell the Garden Way cart before they went out of business. Mine are probably from about 1986-87.

          I used 2" x 4" treated lumber and built rectangular frames that fit the top of the carts but don't hang over. I then cut the hardware cloth to fit the frame and nailed onto the top of the frame with 1 1/2" fence staples. Hardware cloth is tough since it is made from galvanized wire. I normally just leave it outside although I do bring my carts into a shed since the wood is started to go downhill. With the frame on top of the carts, you can shovel/pitchfork the debris on top and then sieve it through. I have used both 1/4" and 1/2" cloth but the 1/2" works best for me. It allows very small pebbles and rock to go though which works well for planting hostas because the voles don't like the jagged rocks if they are tunneling in my planting beds. I keep 5 gal buckets sitting on the tail of the cart to throw larger rocks that need a home off my lot and one for debris that goes into a burn pile. Sweet gum balls always go to the burn pile because it takes 3-4 years for them to decay in a compost pile.

          Here is a link to someone who actually built a sliding frame for his sieve. It actually shows him picking up the frame and shaking it. That's too much work plus my frame is larger and to heavy to handle this way with a load of compost on it. Still this gives you an idea of the procedure although I just filter the finer material through the cloth by hand. It takes me forever to clean under my nails since I hate using gloves.
          I find that when I rake leaves in the fall, I don't spend time filtering out the "bad stuff" since I can do it better when I use the sieve. My wife thinks I obsessive about the work but over the last 30 years, I have probably hauled off 20 pickup loads of rock and we have lots of earthworms now. If I could just get rid of all the voles.    

        "Training is simply a stimulus being applied to the body with the purpose of getting a specific adaptation." Craig Ballantyne

        by NC Dem on Mon Aug 09, 2010 at 08:36:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's a great idea. I'm not very handy (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Freakinout daily

          with tools which is why I like my bokashi set up. I can use a shovel very well. A hammer and nails...not so much. It messes with my sparkly manicure.

          I blog on healthcare issues for Tikkun Daily as Lauren Reichelt.

          by TheFatLadySings on Mon Aug 09, 2010 at 11:46:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  or, you could... (0+ / 0-)

          put your wire-frame up on "legs" so it's free-standing.  that's how my dear husband made mine, many years ago. Also a 2x4 frame, but mine is 2'x4', sized to fit the frames of our raised garden beds.  the vertical "leg" panels are made of plywood, so it stands about 36" when it's mounted on a raised bed.

          So when we were first doing the soil prep, we could put the sifter up on the raised bed frame, shovel the "soil" up onto the wire, over the bed, and really break it down into small stuff.  

          Later, used on the ground to sift compost.  it stands about 18 inches off the ground.  We have clay river-bottom here, so it takes a LOT of "conditioning" to get to the point of things not going brick again over the winter.  you sift, move the sifter and, if using on the ground, shovel into the wheelbarrow for transport to where you want to use it.  you can put a tarp (or recycled kids wading pool bottom panel, we still have several of those!) down to catch all the good stuff.

          current iteration has two layers of half-inch hardware cloth, the plastic-covered kind, off-set to create a mostly quarter-inch grid.  we started with larger mesh, and plain galvanized, but over the years ... well, this sifts finer, and is easier on the hands.  yeah, hands.  I tend to rub the stuff over the hardware cloth with my hands (with gloves!).  the husband likes to use the back of a garden rake, and that works some, but for the stubborn stuff, you just can't bear down enough!  we also have two cross braces inside the 2x4' frame, helps support the wire so it doesn't sag and/or have so many wire breaks.  the plasticated stuff is VERY sturdy.

          This bokashi thing sounds interesting, as I de-commissioned my compost collectors (fence wire tubes about 3' across, 5' tall, set of three for rotation) a couple of years ago in preparation for a move we're still working on.  Luckily, I can put my kitchen scraps in our yard debris garbage pick-up, but would rather be using it!  So of course this comes along as we appear to finally be actually getting really close to the move!!!  I'm currently collecting vegetable scraps and tea-bags in a large yoghurt plastic can with lid, then into the 10-inch cubic collector from the garbage co., then it goes into the yard debris can every two weeks.  We're a small family, no pets, 90% of what goes in the "compost" is tea-bags and broccoli stems!

          the husband is extremely handy but couldn't figure out a way to engineer an actual archaeologist-style shaking sifter as heavy-duty as we needed.  we also tried making a drum composter, with the drum from a dead washing machine, but couldn't get it to compost.  think we weren't chopping stuff fine enough for it.  the thing I've REALLY always wanted to try... my NZ SIL's father once made a standing frame and mounted a used in-sink-erator in it!  to really fine-chop the stuff he was putting in his compost!!!  apparently worked like a charm.

          "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

          by chimene on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 11:33:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  This sounds wonderful. Fortunately, (2+ / 0-)

    Ann Arbor has a wonderful compost program.  We even have a rollaway bin.  The compost gets incredibly hot in small mountains.  I had some delivered this spring for my yard and it was still steaming when it was dumped.  I'm going to visit soon with several tubs as I've used it all up--mostly in reseeding the front lawn.

    It would be nice to do some of the home composting just for the compost tea.  I'm going to check the bokashi out.  Maybe I can con a grandkid into doing something with it for a science fair.

    Great diary, we need all the ideas we can get for trying to maintain the planet.  Every little bit helps.

    Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through. Jonathan Swift ....Papers,please.

    by maybeeso in michigan on Mon Aug 09, 2010 at 08:45:49 AM PDT

  •  Luckily, for me, for now anyway (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I have a back-yard big enough to accommodate two piles, kept in place by inexpensively manufactured "bins" (made of recycled tires, I believe) provided free to residents by the city.

    A plastic coffee container holds kitchen scraps and coffee grounds and filters etc., but there's no way can I afford to spend a dime on composting.

    That's right. I'm a "Librul" You have a problem with that?

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Mon Aug 09, 2010 at 09:32:47 AM PDT

  •  Dang! You didn't have a choice on your (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    poll for: "Avid composter already"  I have a nifty little barrel I got from Gaiam that sits on my patio.  I have had it several years.  

    I bought a Bokashi for my daughter two years ago and she loves it.  I recommend it highly even for apartment dwellers.  Thanks for the diary and info.

    •  We have a house and a yard in a small town (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and I still use bokashi. I hate trekking out to a compost pile in the snow. Plus this way, it stays hidden and doesn't attract flies.

      I blog on healthcare issues for Tikkun Daily as Lauren Reichelt.

      by TheFatLadySings on Mon Aug 09, 2010 at 11:56:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There is that. I really like my little black (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        drum, about the size of a tire that I got from Gaiam We keep it on the patio near the kitchen door and I have never had any flies or pest problems with it.  I have lost count of how many times we have emptied it for our small garden and I love the "tea" diluted for watering my fruit trees and pot plants.

        Daughter loves her Bokashi.  She has a small space so does a lot of container gardening.

        Great diary and thanks again for writing about this.

  •  Thank you for posting this! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Awesome diary, thanks so much (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, TheFatLadySings

    My city (SF) has a great composting program, we put all our food scraps as well as things like soiled wrappers and paper cups in our green bins that get picked up by waste management and taken to a huge composting facility where it's composted and then sold back to farmers in the area. It's the second best solution after having your own compost in your backyard.

    Safari mzuri Ahsante sana :: Journey beautiful Thank you very much!

    by citisven on Mon Aug 09, 2010 at 09:46:44 PM PDT

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