Monday, 22 February 2010

Bokashi problems

I'm really hoping to hear from someone with experience of using the Bokashi composting system. I set up my tub in the playhouse in the garden (no room in the kitchen and garage too far away), it was filled by mid December. My plan was to leave it for 6 weeks to ferment followed by 6 weeks to rot down in the soil ....

...... However

Had a peek in there and the kitchen scraps look no different to when they went in, plus I haven't had much liquid coming off it. I'm wondering if the freezing weather we've been having could have delayed the fermentation process and if so, will the material in the tub be suitable to dig into the soil?

If it's going to work I really need to dig it in now so it has enough time to rot down before I start planting in March, so what do I do? Should I go ahead and dig it in and hope for the best? Or will there be dire consequences?

Any advice greatly appreciated!


  1. If you've been sprinkling the bran over the layers in a consistent manner, it should be okay. The fact that you haven't had a liquid run-off isn't too unusual if much of the contents are mainly dry matter and I've found it is also affected by temperature conditions. The best way to test it is to take off the top six inches or so and if the rest of the contents are beginning to look "slightly" more processed and smells as though it's fermenting rather than just going mouldy, you should be okay to dig it into the ground. Hope that helps (Karen@therubbishdiet)

  2. Tracy,

    I think you'll be fine. As you may already know, the bokashi acts as a inoculant that ferments the kitchen scraps. When the bucket is full, the food waste in the bucket will look the same as when it went in, but the chemical structure will have changed completely. It is only later, when the fermented kitchen waste is dumped into the ground or compost bin, which is far more aerobic, where there are many other wild non-fermenting microbes present, that true composting will begin, and in that role the bokashi will assist primarily in making the composting process more efficient, in producing higher-quality end product, and in reducing levels of pathogenic microbes. So, as you say, "dig it in and hope for the best!"



  3. Thank you both very much! That's really very helpful, I'll get digging. I'm especially looking forward to the appearance of wild non-fermenting microbes - they sound like great fun.

  4. Hi - Just starting out on bokashi and I think your site for the bin was too cold. As I understand it this is a live fermentation process so we probably need to think 'bread making' and keep the bin in a place where the temperature is at least comfortable to you. And if nothing has happened after six weeks I would suggest the bokashi and em are defunct I fear. But what do I know - yet!

  5. Well, with the benefit of some extra time, I'm happy to report that when buried,the bokashi compost disappeared pretty much on time. I saw the odd cadaver of garlic bread but even they vanished after another couple of weeks and my crops at home (on the bokashi treated soil) are doing waaaaaay better than the allotment crops atm.

  6. The instructions that came with my composter stated that I only needed to wait two weeks before burying the kitchen scraps. I did this and eagerly tried to decant the liquor only to find none. I appreciate the comments on this post. I will try to bury the contents of the composter and see what happens. I have two bins and they are both full, so I need to bury the first bin to keep going. I am a little nervous that the bacteria may be dead and I really don't want to bury scraps that haven't been decomposed due to concerns about attracting rats, etc. to our yard. My husband is skeptical about this process and not in favor of composting in general - so I am eager for this to go well. Any recommendations for a good source of Bokashi microbes? BTW, my bins are in the basement. It is cooler than the rest of the house but not cold.

  7. I use this website, it's very reasonable (hope it doesn't disappear in the local government cuts though)

    My routine is still as outlined above, fill the bin and leave it 6 weeks (longer when I forget about it!) As I now have a compost bin on our new allotment I either stick it on there or bury it directly in the soil for 6 weeks. I haven't seen any rats at home, can't vouch for the allotment though.

  8. I find that going by smell lets me know if the bokashi compost is fermenting from bokashi organisms or if it is the dreaded putrifying.
    Also bury the contents in a hole in ground right away if it is putrifying. Put some sugar and bokashi on top and cover it with plenty of soil on top. As I understand that will keep rats away. If it is a good ferment the rats are not suppose to be interested in it.