Category: education

Copley Community Orchard – Bokashi Field Trial

By , 21 May 2012 21:22

The Environmental Youth Alliance has partnered with the City of Vancouver to work with community members to create Copley Community Orchard on the former grounds of Richard and Marie Copley’s orchard. This land was vacant for decades, and now, in keeping with the site’s history, the focus of the project is perennial fruit agriculture and celebration.

The site is shared between the EYA’s youth programming and Copley Community Orchard. Community Studio has assisted us in designing our exciting plans which include an apple orchard, cherry trees, espaliered apple and pear trees, rare or unique fruit trees, berry bushes and fruiting shrubs. We also have planned an accessible bed area which will be open to all members of the community.

I received permission to add some bokashi to the cherry trees as a fertilizer. Here’s what I did.

Bokashi will be added to the cherry trees on the right [north] side of the path.


Copley Commons - Bokashi trial 1


The trees were planted during the first work party on April 28 -29, 2012.

Copley Commons - Bokashi trial 1-1


Holes are made on the uphill side of the roots, about 4 – 5in / 10-12cm deep

Copley Commons - Bokashi trial 1-2


Bokashi is added to the holes and covered

Copley Commons - Bokashi trial 1-3


Tree No. 1 with opposite for control and reference

Copley Commons - Bokashi trial 1-5


Tree No. 2

Copley Commons - Bokashi trial 2-1


Tree No. 3

Copley Commons - Bokashi trial 3-1


Tree No. 4

Copley Commons - Bokashi trial 4-1


Tree No. 5

Copley Commons - Bokashi trial 5-1


I will take pictures again on the Canada Day Weekend July 1, 2012

Is bokashi cost effective? Yes!

By , 20 February 2010 21:39

In this article from the Kamloops Daily News, Deanna Hurstfield is looking to start a bokashi composting network where she lives. It has a good overview of the process.

I need to respond to these lines in the article:

Bokashi seems to offer many advantages, Hurstfield said. The catch? It’s not cheap.

There are bokashi kits available through Internet dealers, she said. The costs of those systems appear to run at about $20 to $30 a month for all the supplies, substrates and microbe mixes.

Here are the costs for the first year of bokashi composting using my system:

Two bokashi buckets: $85
4 x 1Kg Bokashi*: $30
Total    $115
Monthly cost:  $9.58

*[two 1Kg bags are included with the bokashi kits]

In the second year or, if you have your own buckets as Deanna does, all you need is the bokashi: $60

Monthly cost: $5

I’ve been generous on the amount of bokashi you need for a year. Although I say that a 1Kg bag of bokashi will last 2 – 4 months, I’ve had customers come back for a second bag after 6 or 9 months, even a year later. Recently, a small office re-ordered a bag of bokashi nearly two an a half years after their first purchase!

While my competitor’s prices probably do come close the article’s monthly estimate for the first year, the cost in the second year is much lower.

"If we can find a microbiologist who can help us figure out what is in there, we can cut the costs even more," she said.

It isn’t hard to find what is in the bacterial culture used to make bokashi. This blog post from 2007 addresses the issue of making and using your own friendly microbe culture, as does Bokashi Composting.

I have never hidden how to make your own bokashi which will lower your costs even more. I only ask that you buy the Terra Biosa Friendly Microbes [aka EM] from me.:-)

Do it today!


Bokashi in Spain – YouTube

By , 14 October 2008 23:48

I appreciate how the developers here have simplified the complexity and made it as easy as possible for many people to use bokashi. It is a great adaptation which I will see if I can implement.



Anke's bokashi bucket [Germany]

By , 17 July 2008 06:56

I found a picture of Anke’s bucket on Flickr and provided some advice to her. This is a DIY bucket that a company makes but also provides details on how to make your own.

After I sent her the instructions I usually give to clients, Anke decided start the process over and document it. Links to my website & blog are in the pic of the bucket with foil tape on it.

bokashi – a set on Flickr

Update: Anke added a post on her blog


Bokashi & Bones

By , 2 June 2008 08:17

Within twelve hours of responding to a blog post about the same topic, I received this email:

I’m trying to find out if chicken bones are okay in my bokashi bucket (hope so cause I already put them in). You said chicken is fine, so how about the bones?…If bones are not okay, should I go to the trouble to dig them out? How
should I best compost bones?

My response [from the blog comments]:

If everything is smelling of fermenting, then you are doing the right things.

But fermentation is not composting. The food wastes added to your bokashi bucket may not look much different than when they went in. but their chemical structure has change completely.

It is when your bokashi food waste goes into your compost heap that the real composting begins. Bones do take longer to break down but in my experience, they become soft and pliable after several weeks/months in the compost.

Will they disappear? Eventually. If you want to make that happen faster, the best thing I can suggest is to break the bones into smaller pieces when you put them in your bokashi bucket.

Hope that helps.




Bokashi Question – Why am I using so much bokashi?

By , 29 May 2008 06:32

J. received a bokashi bucket as part of a corporate prize draw, so I did not have the opportunity to explain the system in advance or provide a small intro demonstration. My instruction sheet and information brochure are being changed to include some of the concerns raised.

Edited for clarity:

I need more bokashi. I am only 1 person using this system & started the composted at the end of March — so in less than 2 months I’ve used up the bag. I think used too much –but the reason why was because every time I opened the bucket to add more food scraps, I would find mold on the top of the food/enzyme pile AND all over the interior sides of the bucket.  So, I would try to scrape the sides & add more bokashi in order to cover the mold & aid digestion.

I’m concerned that this system really does not break down the organic materials into compost. It really is in a very early state of decomposition and not appropriate for putting in my window planters (I’m an apt dweller). It appears that it only gets to a state of partially digested/rotted food. Is this correct?



My reply:

Thanks for your comments. I’ll answer them as best as I can. Using a 1Kg bag of bokashi in a two month period is within a normal range but for a single person, you are correct: it should last longer. Bokashi is very forgiving. As long as it has something to eat/grow on, it will continue to do its work.

With regard to the mold, on Page 2 of the instruction sheet is says:

The Signs Of A Successful Fermentation
Smell: Well fermented food organics should have a smell similar to that of pickles or
cider vinegar.

Visual: Occasionally, particularly for longer fermentation periods a white cotton-like
fungi growth may appear on the surface. This shows that a good fermentation
process has occurred.

The Signs That All Is Not Well*
Smell: A strong rancid or rotten smell indicates a poor batch of compost.

Visual: The presence black or blue-green fungi indicates that contamination has occurred
and the process has not fermented but putrefied.

Was your mold white or black? Did your food waste smell fermented or putrid?

With regard to what is happening in the bucket, again, you are correct: the system does not break down the organic materials into "black gold" compost.

It states this on Page 2 of the instruction sheet:

The Composting Process
The composting process is one of fermentation, which is like pickling
onions in a jar. The organic food will not breakdown or decompose
while it is in the bucket. So if you have a bucket that is fermenting
with a pickling/vinegar type smell and looks the same when you put the
food in the bucket, this is okay composting is still happening.

On Page 4 it states that the finishing process is as follows:

How To Use Your Biosa Bokashi Compost or What to do when the bucket is full

In existing gardens
Dig a hole/trench approximately 20-25 cms deep, add the fermented food organics and mix with some soil, then cover with the remaining soil. The FM fermented compost is acidic when first dug in but neutralises after 7-10 days. Bacteria in the soil and compost will start to break down the food and after about 2-4 weeks all the food will have decomposed. Alternatively you can add it to an existing compost bin.

For people who live in apartments, there are different solutions possible and I offer the suggestion provided in this weblink:

According to one of my clients, this has worked very well for him.

I hope this is helpful for you J. The concerns you raised will be made more clear in my information brochures and instructions.

Please contact me to get another bag of bokashi.



*I did not include this section in my original reply.


Sunday March 9th, 2008 – Bokashi composting demo [show and tell] @ MOBY

By , 4 March 2008 21:34

From an email by Tina D

MOBY has invited Al … to do a Bokashi Composting workshop. I have been using the system for a year now and love it ( no fruit-flies in the summer). Please RSVP if you would like to attend.

See below for more information.

Bokashi Composting Workshop

Check the craigslist link for info

Date: Sunday March 9th

Time: 11am
Location: MOBY Garden
Cost: $5 – can be used toward the kit which costs $45

Limited space – 12 people only. Please RSVP to

For more information please see these websites:

This is not an official guerrilla gardener meet-up so please to

To be clear, we will not be making bokashi. I am showing the process, how it works and the results bokashi compost dug into Tina D’s MOBY garden plot in January. In all, we’re looking at about 30 – 45 minutes.

The Permaculture Concept video

By , 12 September 2007 10:06

In addition to the big picture view, Bill Mollison shows how to setup a growing space on an apartment balcony!!

Link to Bokashi videos on YouTube

By , 30 August 2007 06:49

Bokashi videos on YouTube

None of them by me, yet.

Also a list of suppliers of the friendly microbe liquid aka. EM to make your own bokashi.

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: 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:

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 Pasternak

Biosa[tm] Bokashi Composting
++indoor, odour free & more
Read my blog

*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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