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Boring you about bokashi composting

(44 Posts)
shovetheholly Tue 14-Apr-15 09:24:15

So a year ago, I started doing this new method of composting, and it's fabulous.

It's called a bokashi system, and the great thing about it is that you can put all of your food waste in it - not just peelings but cooked food and meat. Everything, in fact, except teabags for some reason. I'm veggie but I had an elderly and unwell cat, who would leave a lot of food, and I was chucking out loads of cat food. This system let me compost it instead.

You basically have a small bin with a lid, with a tap at the bottom. You empty your food waste into it, and press it down with a plastic tool. Then you sprinkle a small amount of a special bran on top and cover it. You repeat until the bin is full, then you leave it to sit for 3-4 weeks.

You then drain the bin with the tap - I generally get over a litre of fluid. This niffs a bit but it is spectacular plant food. You dilute it a great deal (about 15 ml to a watering can) and it makes your plants grow like billy-oh, especially veg.

When you look in the bin (holding your nose), the food waste is all petrified. It can be dumped into a compost bin and then covered with other waste or you can dig it straight into the ground to give new plants a boost.

The bin doesn't smell at all, because it's covered tight, though you do get a pong when you open it! You can buy them online, or alternatively make your own.

AlternativeTentacles Tue 14-Apr-15 09:26:39

I don't have enough food that gets thrown out to warrant it - I have a wormery outside the back door which gets all the non citrus and onion scraps. Makes a fab compost which gets mixed into my tomato and pepper compost, and a plant food which goes into the greenhouse.

shovetheholly Tue 14-Apr-15 09:31:42

Wormery compost is amazing! My Dad has one and swears by it and he makes lovely, fluffy black gold in his. The only thing is that dairy/meat can't go in there, whereas they can go into the bokashi bin.

I feel really silly saying this as a vegetarian!!

LetThereBeCupcakes Tue 14-Apr-15 09:37:04

Where can I get this wonderful bin? Does it smell? Do you keep it in the kitchen?

shovetheholly Tue 14-Apr-15 09:49:23

I was given mine as a birthday present (I have understanding friends grin). But I think you can get them from online sites that sell composting stuff (not sure if I'm allowed to mention names, but the article below has some hints about where you can purchase!)

The bin doesn't smell at all when you have the lid on - and I am quite sensitive to such things so it would bug me no end if it did. I keep mine just outside the kitchen door, for convenience. But to me it's a bit ripe when you take the lid off, which is why you might not want to do it indoors!

The thing about it that is great is the speed - it is just so incredibly fast at transforming waste into something useable. The bran goes a long way - I have a large bag that came with the bin and it's lasted well over a year.

Here's the article:

TheSpottedZebra Tue 14-Apr-15 10:04:38

Ooh I've wondered about this before. Currently I am super lazy and just bung everything into our council green bin collection (which is collected every week, we have ace recycling /refuse facilities Chez Zebra). Although recently I've been taking some peelings etc to the allotment, as I don't have any greens for my compost heap, as everything I get rid of at mo is a pernicious weed that I bring home to my council bin...

Anyway, yes I have wondered about this. I'm veggie too, although the family does eat a tiny bit of meat. Do you have to feed the worms constantly, do they not cope well with absences, or have I mis-remembered that? I guess the bacteria in bokashi would be fine with an absence of two?

shovetheholly Tue 14-Apr-15 10:27:31

There are no worms at all in the bin. The waste is fermented by the bran, and then you empty it completely every 3 weeks. So you have 2 products: the liquid feed that you run off, and the zombiefied waste. Because it's microbial, it deals quite well with periods where you're not adding anything.

The solid waste either goes into a compost heap or it can be dug straight into a trench in the soil for food crops.

You might be surprised how much food waste you have when you put it all into a box. It's amazing how many rich peelings you get from just one meal's worth of potatoes, for example. And it's all soooooo good for the garden!

DoreenLethal Sat 02-Apr-16 09:41:23

Bumping this because I have a bokashi on the go; found two in my office [shed] at my new job and want to have them working on site but before I can do that, I need to get them going first so brought one home to start it off.

So, I am about 3/4 full, and just wanted to ask - do you leave it 3 weeks after it is completely full, or is it 3 weeks from starting to use it? It isn't stinky yet...but has only had veg waste in there as we don't eat meat and have no cats with bad attitudes.

shovetheholly Mon 04-Apr-16 07:48:16

I leave it 3 weeks after I've finished it. Then I get a larger jam jar and decant the run-off and go mad with the watering can!! I would love to hear how you get on with your first batch!

I find the stinkiness varies from season to season. You can never smell it outside the box in any season, to the point that you could actually have a box in the kitchen. It's only when you open it that you smell the contents. In the winter it's relatively mild and sweet - but when you open it in hot weather you do know it's there and cor blimey it can honk. I think a lot of this is caused by the meat, though - I have experimented with cycles without the cat food, because I've been veggie for 25 years and I can't bear the smell of meat. It's not nearly as bad without them in the mix! I greatly prefer this - but my cat is uncooperative.

After you've used the runoff, you're left with the box of strangely pickled waste- I have found that digging a big and deep trench for the waste and then planting pole beans into it works really well. At other times of year, it tends to get shoved in the compost heap.

DoreenLethal Mon 04-Apr-16 09:08:44

I have no sense of smell right now due to a cold [no sense of taste either but that's by the by], I will probably dig holes at the allotment and bury it there and plant beans on it. About 4/5 full now. If it starts honking it will go outside but right now it is in the kitchen.

shovetheholly Mon 04-Apr-16 09:14:27

Ooof, a spring cold is no fun, especially when you have an amazing new job and therefore new gardens to look after! Get well soon Doreen!

DoreenLethal Mon 04-Apr-16 09:20:26

I know. It's hard work. Thanks.

DoreenLethal Mon 04-Apr-16 20:12:16

I'm an inch away from the top. Soup tomorrow should sort it.


shovetheholly Tue 05-Apr-16 08:57:49


I find it hard to explain to people sometimes that I am compelled to eat more fruit and veg because of a bin.

Hope you're feeling better today than yesterday! Soup is SO brilliant for a cold.

DoreenLethal Tue 05-Apr-16 11:23:44

I am feeling better as I have just picked up my new [to me] car, and although it smells a bit of smoke [just about to go and give it a clean] it means I can smell again!

shovetheholly Tue 05-Apr-16 11:31:16

Ooooooh, how exciting!! And hooray for being able to smell again! It's such a relief sometimes when the sinuses unclog. I'd be going around smelling all the spring bulbs to celebrate!! grin

How do you protect a lovely car as a gardener? Do you use a trailer when you are carting around things like compost? I have an ancient, tiny VW that is always a mess, so I am not too fussed about putting the seats down shoving manure and all kinds of other dirty things in the back. But at some point soon it is going to give up the ghost and then I don't know what I will do!

DoreenLethal Tue 05-Apr-16 11:44:16

Well, mine is a Fiat 500!

I am just about to cut the old boot protector down to size, and put it in before any compost or plants go in. I am taking a load to work tomorrow that have been cracked open by my heated prop; so I need that boot protector in there pronto. I rescued it from my OH's Mazda the week before last. Yes, we have both had to get new cars in the space of 10 days as both of ours died. I hired a van yesterday to get all the big stuff at work, and at home moved. So from now on, if it doesn't fit in the back of the Fiat then it doesn't get moved.

DoreenLethal Tue 05-Apr-16 11:45:35

I also have a washable white plasticy but like cotton tablecloth, which goes down if I haven't got a boot protector. I've been using it in the hire cars for the last few weeks.

DoreenLethal Tue 05-Apr-16 11:46:02

Failing that, flatten some cardboard and when it is looking thin, it gets composted.

shovetheholly Tue 05-Apr-16 12:44:24

A Fiat 500. I'm not jealous. Not at all.

envy envy envy.

A wipeable tablecloth sounds great. I use a tarp, but it's not heavy enough and, when not weighed down, will blow around.

guerre Tue 12-Apr-16 01:39:51

May I ask how it sits with you as a veggie to feed your vegetables with meat-contaminated water? If youre veggie for ethical reasons, presumably you don't mind, because it's making use of a waste product. But if one were veggie for religious reasons, say, would it be a no-no to use meat waste in the bin?

shovetheholly Tue 12-Apr-16 08:01:38

I'm veggie for ethical reasons so I can only really talk about that. My experience has been that people don't eat meat for a variety of reasons, to the point that the same behaviour can have very different rationales that can be as incompatible with each other as any veggie/carnivore split!! So what I am saying is just how I think about it and probably doesn't cover many other veggies!!

I don't have any problem with using the old cat food in this way, partly because I think wasting it would be worse, and partly because I think there are probably quite a lot of animal derivatives in some organic farming (blood, fish and bone is an age old fertiliser, people used to bury horses and other animals and grow over the top). I don't know how extensive this is with industrial farming these days. I imagine chemical methods have replaced this??! But having grown up in East Anglia and seen first hand the extent of chemical crop spraying, I think I'd rather risk the cat food!!

That's not to say, though, that you can't get crops without chemicals or meat. Before I knew about bokashi, I grew in this way and the waste cat food went to landfill. When my cat, sadly increasingly old and sick, is no longer with us I will go back to this. I don't notice any difference with the meat in there either way. It's just it helps me to feel it's being productively reused.

A lot of people ask me why there is cat food waste in the first place. I really wish there wasn't! There didn't used to be when they were younger. I used to have two cats, one died last year of cancer at 17, the other is looking peaky and about to go to the vet with me this morning... And I know it won't be good news. They seem to get problems building up and up at the end and with both my old boys, the appetite has gone earlier than other parts of the body. It's not that they don't want to eat but like they get bored of food more quickly and are more fickle (they will not eat half cans that have been kept in the fridge, even if these are warmed first). I can't tell you how many hours and hours I've spent over the last 18 months sitting on floors and coaxing them to to eat. It can take hours!! But they are otherwise purry, affectionate, pain free beasts so it seems wrong not to try.

guerre Tue 12-Apr-16 10:45:18

Oh, thank you for replying, shove, it's interesting, I hadn't even thought about bonemeal etc.
I do hope it was good news this morning. DH's old cat was like that- so incredibly fussy, and would only eat something once, then that was it. She was 24 by the time she bowed out, and rather a slender girl, but healthy until the last few days, thankfully. Is it possible to freeze cat food? I'm just wondering if that would preserve the flavour better, and him not turn his nose up. She thought she was human though, tbh, and would eat scones, cheese, pasta even if she could swipe it, even with tomato sauce, not cheese. She would usually be tempted by proper fish, but it becomes v expensive, even planning around what you're eating. I hope he can find his

shovetheholly Tue 12-Apr-16 10:49:53

Awwwwwww! 24 is a fine old age for a cat!!

It's lovely when you have a cat who thinks they are human. My old cat, the one who died, was like that. Sometimes you could almost see him trying to figure out why he couldn't do the same things as we did. I miss him so much!

My current old boy is much more of a conventional cat - less gregarious, likes his own space, peace and quiet, and lying on the soft carpet in front of the radiator. I found him in a house I moved into when I was in my early 20s when I was a postgrad student - he'd been abandoned and was really thin. He's been with me ever since!

guerre Tue 12-Apr-16 10:54:42

Yes, she was rather awesome! The cat-like ones can be just as lovely though, and sometimes easier all round. She used to treat the other cat as her pet, which was v amusing to watch.

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