Bokashi FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions

Bokashi Composting really is a very simple process.  I find that its simplicity actually causes some of the confusion.  It has proven itself to be very effective (often times superior) to traditional composting methods around the world for over 30 years. To understand Bokashi requires a change in perspective.  In theory this should be a simple matter; however, in reality it is often difficult to change our old ways or accept something different than "What We Know."  Once we look "outside of the traditional box,"  Bokashi Composting will change the way you think about gardening and soil nutrition - a paradigm shift in fancy words. 

 

In this section I have collected questions asked of me about Bokashi Composting.  My answers will be of the short, sweet, and simple type.  There often times will be more depth or detail but that can be answered elsewhere or researched further by yourself.

 

If you would like to have a question answered that is not listed or would like clarification of something mentioned, just drop me a line and I will do my very best to get you an answer or clear things up.

 

 

 

What is "Bokashi" exactly?

Bokashi is a Japanese word for "Fermented Organic Matter."

What is "Bokashi Bran?"

Bokashi Bran is a dried high carbon material such as wheat bran, rice bran, saw dust, wood shavings, etc., that has been innoculated with a liquid containing multiple strains of beneficial/effective microbes, water, and some sugar source - typically molasses.  This carbon material and liquid is fermented for a period of time in an air tight container so as to cause the microbes to grow, multiply, and inhabit the substrate.  This mixture is eventually dried to stop the fermentation process and preserve the microbes by causing them to go dormant.

What is "Bokashi Composting?"

Boakshi Composting is the process of composting organic wastes such a kitchen food scraps, lawn trimmings, pet wastes, anything once living - essentially - through the use of beneficial microbes ie: Bokashi Bran.

How do I do it?

More specific details and pictures are located in the Bokashi University section of the site.  Essentially an air tight container is layered with a thin covering of Pro-Kashi's Bokashi Wheat Bran followed by a layer of food scraps/organic material (no more than 2" deep) followed by an additional thin layer of Pro-Kashi's Bokashi Wheat Bran.  This layering (lasagna style) continues until you have added all of the food scraps/organic matter that you have.  Push the materials down so as to exclude any air pockets and to ensure as much contact between the scraps and Bokashi Bran.  This is accomplished with an inexpensive potato masher or with the cover that you will use on the surface of the top most layer.  This top layer cover keeps the air off of the surface and is not the air tight lid to the bokashi bucket.  To repeat, you will have a bucket, layers of Bokashi Bran and food, pushed down, covered with any type of material that keeps air off of the top most layer, sealed with the bucket's air tight lid.

Why do I need to always cover the top layer and have an air tight bucket?

Bokashi Composting is an ANAEROBIC process (without air).  The pressing down of the waste material excludes air pockets in the layers.  The covering of the top most layer keeps the air off of the waste surface.  The bucket lid keeps air from circulating from the outside of the bucket to the inside.  Yes there is technically a pocket of air between the lid and the food surface; however, it is non circulating and is ever decreasing as the level of the food wastes rise towards the top of the bucket.

What can I use as a bucket?

Any container which has a lid that is air tight.  Typical examples are cat litter plastic pails, 4 and 5 gallon buckets with lids, prepared food buckets like the ones you find at Oriental Buffet restaurants, icing buckets with lids from the local grocery store bakery section,water buckets like the Coleman with screw on lids and spigots (actually my first Bokashi Bucket until my dog Kiwi ate it after I left it where is should not have), 15/30/50 gallon food grade plastic barrels, garbage cans whos lids have been modified to make them air tight.  You could even use large zip lock bags. The amount of waste you wish to process really dictates the size.

Does my bucket need a drain or spigot?

Ideally yes; however, in the final conclusion no.  You need to drain the liquid - Bokashi Juice - regularly; however, if your bucket has no drain or spigot you will have to add an absorbent layer first to the bottom of the bucket.  This can be shredded newspaper, carboard, peat moss, coir, or saw dust.  Anything that is absorbent and high in carbon will do. 

What is Bokashi Juice?

Bokashi Juice is the liquid that results from the composting process and collects in the bottom of the bucket.

What can I use Bokashi Juice for?

Bokashi Juice is a living liquid full of enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and active beneficial microbe colonies.  It can be used diluted or in straight form.  Straight liquid is used to deodorize drains, clear clogged pipes, add cultures to septic systems, and used in compost heaps.  Diluted it is used as a soil drench, foliar feed spray, lawn spray, garden waste decomposer, and compost pile activator.

What are these Beneficial Microbes you are talking about?

Pro-Kashi uses EM1 mother culture in its Bokashi Wheat Bran.  This is a proprietary blend of four genres of microorganisms which includes but may not be limited to:

Lacto Bacillus

Actinomycetes

Phytotropic Bacteria

Yeast

In concert with each other, each performs a series of functions which assists in the fermentative process, pathogen elimination, production of enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, assists in the decomposition of cellulose and liganin.

Is ProKashi a fertilizer?

Not exactly.  ProKashi is correctly described as a soil amendment/conditioner.  It excels at conditioning and changing the structure and nature of the soil.  This in turn creates an environment that promotes enhanced biological activity in and around the plant's roots and rhizophere.  ProKashi feeds the soil and builds organic matter which in turns feeds the plants.  Non organic based fertilizers bypass this soil web mechanism and go directly into the plants roots.  This over stimulates plants, causes them to over grow their natural defenses, causes over sized and weaker cell structure, and encourages pest and disease attack.  Organic based fertilizers are actually microbe food.  These are consumed by the beneficial microorganisms, processed through their body, and then released to the plant in a natural, slow, controlled, and timely manner.  ProKashi builds this soil matter and microbes to assist in this. 

 

Non organic based fertilizer is like keeping our bodies up and fed with a handful of vitamins, steroid shots, and energy drinks.  Technically it will work, albiet for a short time; however, it is not very appetizing or healthy.  It is not part of Nature's plan for our existence.  Bokashi Composting is similar to eating in that it utilizes organice based whole foods, ammends them, changes their condition, processing it through our stomachs and digestive system where a low PH environment combines with natural bacterial colonies to  feed our system what it needs as it is needed - not just "Jack Hammer" or "Main Lining" it in.

What if I don't have a yard?

No Yard? No worries. A common misconception is that to compost or have a garden you need alot of space. Collect and ferment your food scraps as you would normally do with Bokashi Composting.  Take any container (plastic bin, planter box, foot locker, garbage bin 30-50 gallon wheelie style, terra cotta pot, wash tub, ANYTHING with a bottom and sides) and place a layer of soil 4"-6" deep in the bottom - dig it out of the ground, take a couple of bucket fulls from the local woods or forrest, get some out of a compost pile from a friend, go to the County or City, etc.  Next spread your Bokashi fermented waste on top and mix in some more soil - this mixes in the indigenous microbes and speeds up the last part of the composting process.  Finally, cover this with 8"-12" of your soil and walk away.  

 

You can plant right on top of this in 2 weeks if you want or you can keep adding layers to your container in a lasagna style.  Doing this creates a sort of "Soil Generator."  You are using the container to create organic matter/humus that you can use elsewhere any time you need good compost.  Throw your spent or unused potting soil mixes into your Soil Generator to reuse and revitalize them.  The organic matter, biology, and nutrients will migrate or mix in - turning an otherwise useless mix into a healthy productive plant medium.

Why haven't I heard of this Bokashi stuff before?

Bokashi Composting was a discovery based on need.  Necessity being the "Mother of Invention" caused other Countries to look at ways to overcome their particular crisis.  In Japan, where Bokashi began in the 1970's, the need was finding ways to increase crop productions using natural organisms.  Such a small island country needed to find ways to maximize all that they had available with limited land, production capabilities limited by the quantity of imported chemicals, declining yields due to soil failure as a result of chemical inputs, rising costs of farming, rising population and food demands, etc..  The technique was adapted and used elsewhere in the world where there was a need.  So for those areas, Bokashi and Beneficial Microorganisms is known, researched, and common place right down to the household level.

 

In the US we are blessed and spoiled with resources not available elsewhere. We are the World's leading producer of foods, we did not have the limitations of land, fertility, production related chemicals/equipment/labor.  Many of our techniques reflect this fact and have become so engrained in our culture that we do not look beyond our own borders or our own ways.  Times are changing.  Notice I said "We did not have the limitations..."  Well now we do.  Our landfills are filling up quickly, our soils and water tables are becoming polluted due to our waste and trash impact on the environment, soils are becoming exhausted, biodiversity is declining in our crops and soils, the cost of food is going up due to rising oil costs (it costs more to produce, process, package, ship, and prepare our food) and our yields are declining. Recycling and reusing was once a catchy phrase or romantic notion; now it is a reality.

 

Bokashi is not the re-invention of the wheel nor is it the "Magic Bullet."  It is: however, one hell of a nice wheel that gets us from where we are closer to where we need to be.  It is a powerful tool to add to our arsenal that takes what we are used to using and making it better, faster, more economical and efficient.  We have more efficient light bulbs, more efficient water heaters and air conditioners, we have more efficient cars and MPG.  We are now hearing about Bokashi because the time is ripe, the demand is present, and the people's minds are more open for more efficient agricultural techniques.  Bokashi fills a portion of this need on the large industrial scale as well as the local household level.

 

 

What can this fermented waste stuff due for me?

Bokashi Composting can add about 30 lbs of organic matter to your garden every 2 weeks.  Extended for an entire year, thats over 750 lbs of organic matter/compost per year.  This can in turn increase the biology and diversity of your soil naturally, faster, and more efficiently than any common traditional technique that I know of currently.

 

Bokashi Composting can reduce water usage due to increased water retention in the ammended soil.  This ammended soil will have increased plant available nutrients due to the beneficial bacterial, fungi, and yeasts which breakdown and mineralize nutrients in their bodies and in their waste .  Enzymes and nutrients are added and consumed by higher order organisms - again enriching the soil, aerating and tilling the soil, out competing and preying on pathogenic organisms in the soil.  Bokashi creates diversity which helps create and ensure balance. 

 

Bokashi recycles otherwise wasted products.  With 20% - 30% of all wastes headed to the landfill being food refuse and the largest cost of Government on the local/municipal level (Behind Emergency Services) being waste removal, Bokashi Composting contributes in a real, measurable, and productive way.

 

Bokashi Composting reduces the cost of gardening inputs by reducing chemical fertilizer needs, pesticide usage, loss of plants, greater yields, and less labor.

 

Not a bad deal from a bunch of microscopic "bugs" and unused kitchen scraps that you were going to kick to the curb anyway.

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