I get quite a few questions about Bokashi composting, and this is one of the most common (courtesy of a reader who asked via email):
"Hi! I'm just getting informed about composting and your blogs are really helpful! I was wondering how long it takes to actually harvest your first batch of compost with Bokashi composting? Thanks."
It's a great question. Bokashi is more of a fermenting method than a composting method, at least at first. Here's the thing. The first phase of the Bokashi composting process is to fill the bucket with alternating layers of kitchen scraps and Bokashi bran. Once the bucket is full, you cover it and let it sit for about two weeks. Literally, just let it sit. You don't even need to open it if you really don't want to. This is the fermentation phase. It is the result of the the microorganisms in the Bokashi bran working on the kitchen waste in an anaerobic environment. This process helps get the composting process started by breaking down cell walls in the materials you add. The second phase, which occurs after you've let the Bokashi sit in the bucket for a couple of weeks, is the actual composting process. You add the fermented kitchen scraps to your regular outdoor compost pile or bury it directly in the soil in your garden beds. Because it has already been somewhat broken down by the fermentation process, the materials break down really quickly in garden soil or a compost pile--you literally won't see much of it after a couple of weeks. It will seem to have disappeared. This is because it got a jump start in breaking down during those two weeks, and because earthworms just love the stuff.
There are several reasons you may decide to go with Bokashi. If you have problems with animals raiding your compost, or ordinances against the outdoor composting of food matter, you can use the Bokashi buckets to ferment the waste first--it's barely recognizable as "food" after that, and I can't think of a mammal alive that would actually eat it. If you typically send your kitchen waste to your vermicomposting bin, you might want to have a Bokashi bucket around as a back-up system for those times you have more kitchen waste than your worms can eat.
There is another reward to Bokashi. You can use the Bokashi "juice"--the liquid that accumulates in the bottom of the bucket--to fertilize your plants. The "juice" can also be poured down your drain to keep them clear.
Thanks for the great question. If anyone has any other advice for Gabriella regarding Bokashi, please feel free to share it in the comments!
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