For the next 3 weeks we will be talking about the wonders of Bokashi and how it is so incredibly beneficial for the soil and plants it nourishes.
What is Bokashi fermentation?
Bokashi is a Japanese word meaning fermented organic matter. It was introduced in 1982 by Dr Teruo Higa of Japan.
Bokashi is a closed anaerobic (no air) composting system used to process your food scraps. It is a bit like making chutney, as the food scraps are pickled using Bokashi bran which is inoculated with EM (effective microorganisms) – more on EM later!
How do I create a Bokashi fermentation?
You sprinkle what is known as Bokashi ‘bran’ on the base of your Bokashi bin, then add your food scraps and sprinkle one handful of bran over your food scraps every time you put them in. The key is to replace the lid, making sure it is closed all the way round and continue the process until the bin is full. You can fit much more food in your bin if you squash it down with a potato masher, as this compresses the food together.
This fermentation process will extract the liquid from the food scraps.
A very important factor to remember is to drain the juice every 3-5 days. Bokashi juice contains nutrients from the food waste and is alive with microorganisms, so it makes a great fertiliser. However it is very strong so must be diluted with water. The dilution rates for the garden are 2 tablespoons to five litres of water to be applied to the soil only and, if spraying onto plants, use 1-2 teaspoons to five litres of water as a foliar spray.
Used neat it can be put down your sink, toilet and drains last thing at night when no water will be flushed through. This will enable the live bacteria to eat the bad, thus cleaning your pipes and drains.
I have also been experimenting with applying it neat to weeds and am having great success with this. The colour and the amount of liquid will depend on the food in your bin. For example, if you have lots of beetroot skins in there, your liquid will appear more purple and so forth.
When your bin is full, it should be left for two weeks to ferment, then it is either trenched into your soil or put into a compost bin. The Bokashi is a nitrogen, so it is advisable to cover it with a good layer of carbon (brown matter) to help in the breaking down process.
If you choose option one to trench it into the soil, then it is advisable to leave the area two weeks before planting. I have found that one bucket of Bokashi will be enough to sustain the growth of your plants planted on it throughout the growing season, with an additional liquid feed for heavy feeding plants.
My four secrets to success with Bokashi?
1. Add Bokashi bran to every layer of food scraps
2. Close the lid firmly after every deposit
3. Strain the juice every 3-5 days
4. Your liquid should smell like a vinegary pickle – if it doesn’t, something is off