Category: 1Maven

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.

Crazy For Compost – Yahoo! Buzz Log

By , 29 May 2007 22:58

“Old” news, but still relevant.

Mon, May 07, 2007 – …searches on “compost” are up 160% over the last month.

We held our noses long enough to investigate the top compost searches worming their way through Buzz. Here’s how they stack up…

Crazy For Compost – Yahoo! Buzz Log

Worms for composting available in Vancouver/Lower Mainland [and elsewhere]

By , 25 May 2007 09:24

My focus on composting and sustainability has led me to some interesting places on the ‘net. Lately, I’ve been looking for extra compost bins on Vancouver Craigslist. While reading the posts, I find many people asking for worms aka wrigglers to start their own worm bins. This is great news. Even though I offer for sale a completely different [better] composting system, – no fruit flies, no odour – I am happy to see people take the steps to reduce their food waste.

I have replied by email a number of times to individuals with this information:

City Famer’s Worm Composting page

City Farmer’s Worm Supplier page includes suppliers in BC, Canada, The U.S.A and from around the world.

The City of Vancouver

has a limited number of Worm Composters available at the low price of $25. The units come complete with the bin, lid and tray, worms, bedding and instructions, and a mandatory one hour workshop at the Compost Demonstration Garden [aka City Farmer – Al]. To register for the workshops or to get more information, call the Compost Hotline at 604-736-2250.

The GVRD’s Composting and Yard Trimmings page has a A Guide to Composting with Worms [.pdf file]

Finally, if you live in Vancouver, I have thousands of worms in my compost bins if you want to come over and sort through the stuff. Call or email me. My contact information is on the Home page in the left column.

Cross-posted to

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'Bokashi Bucket….Update' [UK]

By , 22 May 2007 00:10

From a bokashi user in England:

Bokashi Bucket….Update

We have had the Bokashi Bucket for two weeks so it is still early days yet but we are finding it extremely easy to use and are noticing how much less is going into the waste bin.

Just make sure that when you do replace the lid ensure that it is sealed correctly and air tight. The bucket is approximately 1/3 full after two weeks in a household of three people.

Includes photos of the custom designed bokashi bucket. Any bucket made out of existing materials can do the job at home or at work.

Read it all….

A DIY bokashi bucket

By , 19 April 2007 12:29

I share information about bokashi composting to remove the confusion and mystery about it. You have your own buckets to collect the compost? No problem. You can buy only the bokashi. If you want to be adventurous, you can make your own bokashi, but I’m just as happy selling it too.

Same thing with the buckets. There are commercial systems available but home made solutions ones work too.

Jay Summet shows how he made a bokashi bucket with

[a cat litter container], a $5 Coleman igloo spout, and some laser cut 1/8 inch acrylic left over from a picture frame.

Important note: Not all buckets come with “pre-existing plastic strengthening tabs in the bottom of the cat litter container” so you will need another method of raising the acrylic above the bottom of the bucket.

The other One solution is to have two nesting buckets, with holes drilled into the top [inside] bucket, so the liquid drains into the second, as mine do.

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How to make and use Biosa bokashi in large quantities.

By , 25 March 2007 21:15

Edited from an email sent to a customer:

There are a number of options available:

1) Mix the Biosa, molasses and water with bran using this recipe*. Let it ferment in a warm place for a few weeks then dry. 1L of Biosa, molasses and water will make 160Kg/350lb of bokashi. 1Kg of dried bokashi can last 8 – 16 weeks, so it encourages use for composting household waste indoors [even during the winter.:-)]. It can also be used in larger settings such as school/community center lunch rooms and as a kitty litter deodorizer.

2) Mix the Biosa with molasses and water. This creates an Activated Biosa that can be diluted as low as 2%. 1L of Biosa will make 34L Activated. At a 2% solution, this is enough to use with 1700L with water. There is a limited shelf life to this product, 2 – 4 weeks, but it would be the best solution for dealing with a lot of post-consumer waste. You don’t have to make it all at once. Smaller quantities – as little as 500ml – make it accessible for use in restaurants, cafeterias etc. It can also work as an odour control agent; if you know what the smell of a fat rendering collection truck is like during the summer, this would be a big help if they washed their trucks with it.

*includes link to a list of suppliers all over the world, including me.

On this site, you can order here.

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Vancouver: Saving Food from the Dump

By , 18 February 2007 02:22

Nice to see this progress…

Saving Food from the Dump – CKNWAM

Feb, 17 2007 – 3:50 AM

VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) – Recommendations have been made to Vancouver City Council on food composting and diverting food from the landfill, thanks to a new food policy report.

Susan Kurbis of the Food Policy Council says they looked at a small-scale community garden compost in the Strathcona district that led to some surprising results, “They were processing, actually, up to 4 to 6 tonnes a week of food that was destined normally for the landfill…out of 100 tonnes of food waste, we were able to secure 20 tonnes of finished compost.”

The report also studied ways in which edible foods, destined for the landfill, can be diverted as a resource for local charities.

Vancouver City Council Meeting 15Feb07

.pdf file Second Annual Food Policy Progress Report

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links for 2007-02-07

By , 7 February 2007 15:39

links for 2007-02-06

By , 6 February 2007 15:34

links for 2007-02-05

By , 5 February 2007 15:37

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