Bokashi for Composting

Written by Vera Del Vecchio.

For Years, I tried different methods, but I have always been unsuccessful with composting. The only thing I created was a stinky messy pile! I never had nice rich soil like they say you should. I don't get it! Lately, I have had an obsession to find a better way to 'compost' that would be good for the environment and that would work effectively.

bokashi composting

Belonging to the Mycological Society (study of mushrooms) in Toronto, I have always had a fascination for mushrooms and thought that fungi would be the answer to the world's environmental and food waste problems. Fungi are the unnoticed heroes of the microbial world. Without them there would be no trees, no forests, no soil, and probably no ecosystem for us to live in. You can read 'Mycelium Running' by Paul Stamets to find out how fungi can help save the world. Scientists are cleaning up contaminated soil and oil spills with mycelium from oyster mushrooms, and microbes make good things like cheese, yogurt, tofu, bread and penicillin.

Through my research, I came across something called 'Bokashi' which means pickling or fermenting in Japanese. Bokashi (bokashi contains EM) and EM (effective microorganisms) was discovered in Japan by Dr. Teruo Higa in the 80's. Bokashi can change kitchen waste garbage into organic fertilizers that can be used for garden soil. EM is a probotic natural effective microorganisms that is beneficial for food waste, soil, water, people and animals. Dr.Higa happened to discover these microorganisms in EM that had existed as part of the world in nature since earliest times. It is for this reason that Dr.Higa believes them to be everyone's common property, and consider it appropriate that their application in the form of EM be used for the good of society. EM Technology has been used in Japan and over 120 other countries successfully for organic farming and environmental cleanup, from his books; An Earth Saving Revolution and the latest book Our Future Reborn by Dr. Teruo Higa.

In Canada I hear about composting, composting, composting... I don't hear about Bokashi or EM? I ordered Bokashi fermenting buckets to test it out for myself. Since I live in a condo, I thought it would be a real test for flies or foul odours.

When I received my order containing; 2 buckets with lids, and a supply of bokashi mix (bran, molasses, water, ceramic power, EM), and instructions.

The bokashi pickles and ferments the food scraps in a container, and when full, is left to ferment for about a week, then buried in soil for 2 weeks, then the soil is ready for planting. It creates organic nutrient rich soil with no need for chemicals and fertilizers, has no foul smell except a sweet pickle smell, creates no heat or toxic gasses or does not attract bugs or animals. This sounded great, but is it really too good to be true?! Let me find out...

I started with one bucket and every 2 inches of food waste, I would sprinkle bokashi mix on top (about a tablespoon). I pushed down the food scraps, then, covered it with the lid for an air-tight bucket. When I opened the bucket, I was surprised and delighted to smell nothing but a pleasant pickle smell and no flies! I used the liquid drained from the bucket spout to water my plants as a fertilizer. When the bucket was full, I left the filled bucket for one week, then, buried the contents in the ground at my cottage for 2 weeks. When I went to dig up the soil, I found nice soil with little or no food scraps. I planted some tomato plants in the resulting soil and they grew very happily! The whole process took only about 3-4 weeks - great! Wow. This was so easy! I could do this.

This soil was originally terrible soil that was mostly sand and clay that I could not grow any healthy plants. By the summer, the tomato plants that I planted into the soil grew very healthy and big. The plants were weighed down with least 50 tasty plum tomatoes on one plant!

It was fun and exciting to see the whole process and to show my friends and family. Some were not interested in garbage? The people who were interested were quite amazed. I would tell them what I had learned, and showed them some of my experiments with EM and Bokashi.

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