Email Q & A about Bokashi composting

By , 6 June 2007 22:40

—– Original Message —–
From: Sue [not her real name]
To: A. A. Pasternak
Sent: Wednesday, June 06, 2007 8:19 AM
Subject: Re: Bokashi

Hi Al! Thanks so much for getting back to me. I’m interested in composting, and some searching on the internet led me to your website. Bokashi seems like a good option, but I have a couple questions:

Sue: Does the mass of the food waste reduce at all?

Al: No, it pickles. The bokashi acts as a inoculant that ferments the organic matter. When the bucket is full, the food waste at the bottom 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, 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.

Sue: What if the compost bucket gets contaminated? (like with black mold,etc)

Al: In most cases this would not happen but if it does, you bury the bad batch, wash the bucket well and start again. Usually a bad batch is a result of not adding enough bokashi and/or to much moisture in the organic matter for the friendly microbes to eat fast enough. [Not in original email: A white fuzzy mold is ok]

Sue: Can you make your own Bokashi? How long will it keep?

Al: Yes. If you make it in a small batch you can use it after a month and it will keep 2 – 3 months. If you want to keep it longer [two years], it is best to dry it.

I use Biosa as my bokashi starter. Here is a link to the recipe I use:
http://www.cityfarmer.org/bokashi.html. I can provide you with the starter liquid. You can even use the liquid alone.

Sue: And, most importantly, what do I do with the Bokashi?? That last question is why I called. See, I live in Chicago on the third floor of a walk-up. We have no yard, no balcony. I have the fire escape landing – which i could put a small bucket on, but no room for a compost pile.

Al: Here is a link that shows you how to make a small urban compost bin:

Sue: I do live very close to a public park, however. I guess that’s really my main concern. I live with three other people, and we all cook a lot, producing a lot of food waste. We also cook a lot of meat. However, if we don’t have an obvious place to put the Bokashi, and it doesn’t actually reduce the volume of food, then maybe this isn’t for us? I’m not sure. In fact, I’m not totally sure what the point of Bokashi is, if you just have to compost it anyway…*

Al: Anything to reduce sending food waste to the landfill is a good thing:
http://www.resourcecenterchicago.org/compost.html

Bokashi helps stop the bad smells from normal composting, allows people to do it indoors, stops the fruit flies from coming, speeds up the final composting process and produces a better finished product.

Of course I’d be happy to supply all that you need to start bokashi composting and/or connect you with local [U.S.A] suppliers if you choose to go that route. Keep me informed of what you end up doing in your household.

Regards and be well,

Al

Al Pasternak
604.873.4334

Biosa[tm] Bokashi Composting
++indoor, odour free & more
http://www.greatday.ca
Read my blog
http://www.bokashiman.com

*In my original email, I did not respond to this well enough. When I speak with people who ask the same question, I often suggest that people take their full bokashi bucket compost and dig it into the ground in a park or find a local community garden and put it in the compost bins there. As Sue was already thinking about doing that I did not encourage her, but attempted to address her other concerns.

I want people who live in cities to compost their food waste. Bokashi makes it easier for that to happen but people do not have to buy my product [and save the world] if other options are available.

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