Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How to Make Bokashi for Food Waste Recycling

Hundreds of years ago Japanese farmers began the process of bokashi composting. Today, it has become a popular way to compost due to its many practical advantages. Unlike other forms of aerobic composting, bokashi utilizes anaerobic process to break down material. For the most effective bokashi mix, you can also incorporate a microbial inoculant like Effective Microorganisms® or EM. EM ferments and accelerates the break down of green waste.

Benefits of bokashi composting over traditional composting:
· Faster than standard composting
· Requires no churning or turning
· Creates rich compost soil
· Significantly reduces foul odors
· Can be used to recycle more types of waste, including meats and dairy

If you’d like to take your composting to the next level by making your very own bokashi check out our recipe below.

Teraganix’s Easy EM•1® Bokashi Recipe:
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Fermentation: 2 weeks (minimum)
Bokashi Ingredients and Materials

The following ingredients and materials are needed to make a 50-pound bag of EM•1® Bokashi. Visit the EM® Bokashi page of our recipes section for instructions on how to make alternative quantities of bokashi.

¾ Cup EM•1®
¾ Cup Molasses
3-4 Gallons of Water
50lbs Bran (carbon material)

1 Large Black Plastic Bag or Airtight Container
Container or Surface to Mix the Ingredients In/On

Step 1: Mix one gallon of the water with the molasses until the molasses has dissolved.
Step 2: Add the EM•1® to the liquid and mix thoroughly.
Step 3: Mix the liquid thoroughly into the bran.
Step 4: Test to make sure the moisture level is correct. Squeeze some of the bran into a ball. If it holds shape and no extra liquid comes out, it’s the correct moisture. If it is too dry, add more water and mix thoroughly once more.
Step 5: Once the mixture is the correct moisture, put it into your bag or container. If using a bag, tie the bag tightly, squeezing out excess air. If using a container, press down mixture and cover container tightly.
Step 6: Place the mixture somewhere warm and dry. Let it ferment for a minimum of two weeks.

After the two week fermentation period check the bokashi to ensure that no black, brown or green mold is growing on it. If you see white mold that’s fine as it’s a natural part the fermentation process. Now that you know how to make bokashi it’s time to start mixing. If you have any questions or would like to share your own tips and experiences with bokashi composting, please post a comment below.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bokashi Composting: Less Labor, Better Results & a Healthier Method Overall

Without a doubt, the easiest way to engage in eco-friendly recycling food and green waste is to participate in some form of composting. Over the past several decades, the practice of composting has caught on with homeowners and eco-friendly individuals all around the world. Its roots, though, are firmly in the agriculture industry. Agriculture has always relied on composting to eliminate green waste efficiently, to create healthier soils, stronger crops, and better overall results. Today, the Bokashi method of composting is favored by farmers and laymen alike because it actually involves less time, fuel costs due to less turning- and therefore less work - than traditional composting. The Bokashi method is faster and helps to return more nutrients to the soil from the green waste that is being decomposed by the process.

Leaving the Dirt Behind: The Benefits of Less Turning and More Pickling Any farmer familiar with the traditional composting knows that waste must be turned quite often in order introduce the oxygen to feed the microbes (aerobic microbes and fungii) that essentially breaks the waste down. Meanwhile, as the waste decomposes, the compost emits foul smelling gasses and attracts various pests.

The Bokashi method, on the other hand, does not use decomposition to break down materials and therefore does not rely on oxygen and thus requires little to no turning. (The main turning is just mixing in the inoculant and water for proper moisture) The first benefit of this is that there is simply less labor involved. You mix the Bokashi, you add the materials to be broken down, and at the end of the process you add it to the garden... that's it.

A secondary benefit is the Bokashi process emits no offensive smell and - because it occurs in an airtight Bokashi bucket - the process does not attract unwanted pests. These two aspects make the process far more appropriate for families in suburban and urban environments. (An alternate version of this can be conducted on a large scale for farmers.)

But perhaps the biggest benefit of Bokashi is one that directly deals with nutrients that result from the process. Rather than breaking down the compost into a dirt-like substance, the Bokashi method of composting actually pickles the green waste during the process. This preserves a great deal more nutrients than traditional composting, and makes the waste more readily available for worms, beneficial fungi, and future crops. The resulting nutrients from the wastes become “slow release" nutrients, meaning the nutrients are more stable and will last for longer durations. The nutrients are tied up into vitamins and amino acids as well as in the actual microbes themselves. With more nutrients retained during the process, Bokashi composting actually benefits future crops by allowing them to be healthier, more resilient, and more fruitful.

Summary of the Advantages to Bokashi

  • Easier, faster and less labor intensive than traditional composting
  • Highly scalable – you can use the Bokashi method in an apartment or a commercial farm
  • Does not result in foul odors – making it ideal for people living in more urban environments.
  • Produces higher quality, “slow release” nutrients for gardens and farms.
  • It can be used to recycle a variety of wastes that cannot be composted, including meat and dairy.

Bokashi composting allows for more nutrients to be returned to the soil, all while requiring less time and labor than traditional methods. In a world that is becoming more focused on natural ways to provide nutrients, rather than synthetic chemicals that perform the same task, it's easy to see why Bokashi itself is becoming so widely implemented.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The History of Bokashi & How It Works

Bokashi composting is not only an ancient practice, but it is also an excellent alternative to traditional aerobic composting. No one is 100% sure exactly where bokashi first originated, or the precise steps in its evolution that brought it to the system we have today, but there are respected theories that tie this tradition to northeast and central Asia. One thing is for certain: bokashi composting is ideal for modern society.

Bokashi is a powder made from bran used in anaerobic composting. This type of composting has several key benefits for the average Joe. A traditional compost heap is a requires a significant amount of work to keep properly maintained. Compost needs to be monitored, turned, aged and sifted... not to mention the pungent smell of compost is off-putting for many people.

Today's EM Bokashi compost eliminates the work, pests and smell associated with decompostion based composting. The practice is believed to have its earliest roots in ancient Korea. Through Korean composting traditions and new scientific research, compost engineers were able to design what we know as bokashi today. Korean natural farming encourages the growth of certain natural indigenous microorganisms (IMs). These IMs are generally cultivated in cooked rice, milk or another media. Surprisingly similar to the way yogurt is created and maintained, a single culture can be kept alive and producing starters for compost heaps for generations.

EM Bokashi is made with Effective Microorganisms®, or EM•1® Microbial Inoculant. EM•1® is mixed with molasses, water and bran and fermented. The EM•1® ensures a consistent finished product. Effective Microorganisms® was discovered by a man named Dr. Teruo Higa in Japan. Dr. Higa has a doctorate in agricultural research and fruit tree cultivation from Ryukyus University in Okinawa, Japan. Like many great discoveries, EM® came about through an accident -- Higa threw out some waste from his experiments with microorganisms and found the surrounding plants began to flourish.

The EM® that Dr. Higa found in his waste pile was not the EM® that we see today. The current batch of EM•1® took a degree of refining before becoming the product sold today. The current EM•1® Microbial Inoculant mostly consists of lactic acid and phototrophic bacteria as well as yeast.

EM Bokashi came shortly after the EM® concentrate in 1982 and was combined with a special airtight bucket to be easily used in homes and schools. Since that humble beginning, Bokashi has spread to over 120 countries around the world.

Bokashi requires a high carbon media on which the microorganisms colonize. The media of choice today is wheat bran or rice bran. Bokashi starters are sold in a dried form and are mostly used in home composting. The method does not produce the smell of normal composting. The sealed container encourages a pickling process, preventing the materials from rotting, and keeps out pests such as insects.

Because EM Bokashi can be used in tight quarters and in sealed containers, it is ideal for people who want to compost in a small living space. The most common application is using an EM Bokashi bin in a household kitchen. The homeowner can dump kitchen scraps and vegetable matter into the bin and spread a layer of EM Bokashi mix over top of the scraps.

The EM Bokashi awakens in this nutrient-rich environment and the microbes quickly begin to grow. While they grow, they ferment and break down the organic (lignin and cellulose) components of the kitchen scraps in the bin. This causes the food scraps to pickle, mainainting their original shape, but preparing them to final breakdown in the soil. A liquid can be drained out of the Bokashi Bucket Fermenter and used as compost tea, which is a liquid fertilizer useful for growing plants. If the user has no desire to make use of the compost tea, the material is perfectly safe to be drained down a sewer line.

Once the Bokashi bin is filled with alternating layers of bokashi mix and food scraps, is full it is then left to ferment for a couple of weeks. When this time is up, the contents are then buried six to eight inches under the soil and left to finish breaking down. Microbes, worms, and insects in the soil digest the materials into humus in as little as two weeks. This is all done without the tools and work associated with traditional composting!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Different Types of Food Waste Recycling: Aerobic Vs. Anaerobic Composting

There are two different categories that are used to describe the different kinds of composting according to the way the microorganisms work. The main difference lies in the fact that Aerobic microorganisms need air, and anaerobic microorganisms do not. Before deciding which type of composting you are going to use, it is important to learn a little more about what kind of benefits each type will provide, as well as each type’s drawbacks.

Aerobic Composting
Aerobic composting is the type of composting that naturally occurs above the ground. This is because aerobic microorganisms require air to function. Typical aerobic composting areas take place in a simple pile, or in a container that allows air in to circulate around the materials. Aerobic piles also generate more heat than anaerobic composts. Temperatures may even get high enough to kill weeds and pathogens.

There are a few drawbacks to aerobic composting. First, the process can result in gaseous by-products that smell unpleasant to humans and attract pests. If you notice an odor similar to rotten eggs, your compost pile may be too wet and you need add more dry material – or – the pile may need to mixed/turned more thoroughly. This constant need to monitor and adjust the pile makes aerobic composting a bit labor intensive… which is drawback number two. The third drawback is that eventually the spaces holding oxygen between organic matter will be depleted. When this happens, the decomposition process slows down tremendously. A way to avoid this happening is to use a form of aeration during the construction of your compost pile. You can do this by placing an object like a recycled shipping pallet underneath the pile to allow air to travel beneath your compost. Also, adding beneficial microbes in the form of a microbial inoculant will help enhance the bacterial environment and speed along the process.

If your compost pile is shrinking and needs more oxygen, there are a few ways that you can get more air to it. One way is to turn your compost pile over by either dumping it into a new container or moving it over using a shovel or pitch fork. You can also stir your compost pile using a pitchfork to allow air to access other parts of your compost pile. Or, there are some tools on the market that look like giant corkscrews that can aerate the pile.

Anaerobic Composting
The alternate method of food waste recycling is anaerobic composting. This method does not use oxygen, therefore it must take place underground or in a sealed container. In the past, farmers in Japan used this method of composting in the fields. Traditionally, you would dig a hole or pit and place your compost materials in it, then cover it with a thick layer of soil so that no oxygen gets to it.

Today – thanks to specially designed composting buckets – anaerobic composting is much more convenient than ever. It is a faster process than traditional composting and does not emit an unpleasant smell. Anaerobic composting is actually a method of fermentation rather than composting. This is beneficial because the nutrients are not broken down like traditional compost methods, but are instead preserved in a bio-available form that plants can absorb.

Anaerobic composting is a great alternative to traditional composting and is the best method to use when you have waste that attracts bugs, has a bad odor, or is wet… common qualities of food scraps. It is also a great option if composting above ground is not allowed in your area (in some urban areas it is actually against city ordinances to compost), you have limited space, or you don’t enjoy the look (or smell) of a compost pile in your yard. With anaerobic composting you can begin improving the soil much faster than aerobic composting (within 2 weeks), so it is perfect if you are trying to start a fertile garden with quality soil. You can also use the anaerobic compost in planters by layering the compost with potting soil.

Bokashi Composting
If you live in an apartment or a home that does not have space for composting, the Bokashi Food Recycling System is a super convenient way to recycle your food waste no matter what sort of restrictions your residence has. This method is a type of anaerobic composting that uses a smaller container and sometimes two so you can process the first batch while you have another batch forming. This method is ideal for people who still want to compost but feel as if they can’t due to renting restrictions or lack of space.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What is Bokashi Composting?

Bokashi is powder made of certified-organic rice bran. This powder is commonly used to activate anaerobic fermentation; a method of food waste recycling that has many advantages to traditional composting. The Bokashi concept is based on an ancient Japanese farming practice, where farmers used microbe rich soil to break down food and harvest waste, creating a nutrient dense humus for fertilizing future fields.

Decomposition, or rotting, is usually a result of anaerobic microbes, microbes that require little to no oxygen. These putrefying microbes dominate the materials, releasing foul smelling gases in the process. The more commonly known composting methods use microbes that require oxygen...lots of it. If poorly managed, even aerobic composting can produce lots of odors and attract all kinds of pests. And, aerobic composting can also be very time-consuming, laborious and inefficient.

The Bokashi method is anaerobic, but is not putrefactive or rotting. Bokashi anaerobic composting utilizes microorganisms that require little to know oxygen (they are known as facultative) to break down organic materials. For this reason, the process generates few if any bad smelling by-products and, compared to traditional composting, requires very little oversight or time. Bokashi is far more convenient than traditional composting and is so innocuous, that you can perform it indoors. Since the microbes do not require oxygen, the process can be contained within an airtight space and once the process is complete, you simply add the nutrient-rich humus to your garden, worm bed, animal feed or lawn.

Benefits of Bokashi Composting:

  • Effective breaks down food waste including heavier items that traditional composting cannot, including dairy, fish and meat.
  • No noxious byproduct, which means no disgusting smell and no greenhouse gases. The final Bokashi product has a sweet, pickled smell as opposed to a rancid decomposition smell.
  • An enclosed system guards against attracting insect and pests, a major drawback of traditional composting that must be left in “open air” so that the compost pile microbes have access to oxygen.
  • Takes approximately two weeks to complete, much faster than traditional composting! And Bokashi bran powder can be coupled with Super Cera (Super C) Powder to create EM-1 Bokashi for super accelerated composting.
  • Minimal involvement required – no turning or monitoring green to brown ratios. Simply add food scraps and the bran, and walk away. The microorganisms do the rest. After two week, bury the fermented matter wherever you want to enhance plant life and the compost will fully break down in the soil over the next 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Super compact! No more need for backyard space… Bokashi bins can fit in a pantry or under the sink. This makes Bokashi ideal for businesses and urban dwellers (or anyone sick of maintaining their traditional compost heap’s green to brown ratio.)
  • Super-efficient! The materials break down quickly in a small amount of space… and since the process is contained, no nutrients are lost.

What you need to get started with Bokashi:

  • Unwanted food waste
  • Bokashi rice bran or EM Bokashi for accelerated composting
  • A Bokashi Bucket / Composting Bin - should be compact and feature a flexible, easy-open, air-tight lids. The Deluxe Bokashi Bucket Fermenter is also infused with EM-X® Ceramic powders that accelerate the fermentation process.
  • Having two buckets on hand is even more convenient as you can switch them out quickly for greater efficiency.
  • Consider a Bokashi bin featuring a spigot if you want to use compost tea during the two week cycle.
  • A space to bury the resulting fermented contents of the Bokashi bin (garden beds, pots, etc).

That’s it! It’s obvious why Bokashi is considered the easiest food recycling method available. Give it a try, and you’ll never go back to aerobic food waste composting again!