Composting with Vani Murthy: the Bokashi method

Part 3: Bokashi is more of a fermentation than a conventional composting method.


[Editor’s Note: Composting in your backyard is the best way to handle your food waste. With a few tubs, maybe some worms and minimal space in your house, you can convert your daily dustbin contents to clean, rich, organic manure and grow your greens – flowers, food or simply foliage, as you’d like. In part 3 of the 4-part DIY series, Vani Murthy, Bangalore’s renowned waste management expert and composting enthusiast, gives practical easy-to-follow advice about how to go about composting right in your balcony or terrace.]

Part 3: Bokashi

The Bokashi composting process is more of a fermentation process than a conventional composting process. The Bokashi system is a 2 stage process

Stage 1: Fermentation in the drum being airtight, the process does not break down the contents as there is no oxygen.

Stage 2: It is a decomposition stage and this happens when the fermented material is added to the soil or compost. The fermentation stage is one which also conditions the food waste so that it will breakdown more rapidly at the decomposition stage.

The Bokashi toolkit. 

Requirements:
1. The Bokashi bin and powder
2. Kitchen waste

Set up:
1. There is a readymade drum with a tap to let out liquid.
2. The drum comes with a basket and a net bag.
3. Place the basket at the bottom.
4. The net goes in after.

The net goes into the bin and the bottom is secured by the seive.

Methodology:
1. Add kitchen waste of each day into this drum (cooked food, meat and dairy products) everything goes in.
2. Don’t panic if you see maggots the next day around the rim. This is expected.
3. Add the Bokashi powder.
4. The tap is to drain a small amount of liquid generated from time to time and it will smell like molasses, bran and vinegar.
5. By around the 17th day some white fungus will form, this shows fermentation. The white mold is a beneficial fungus which helps suppress pathogens. If you have white mold it shows that your fermentation is going well.
6. It will take about one month of collected kitchen waste in the Bokashii drum to fill it and then let it sit for 18 days.
7. Mix some of it with semi done compost and put it in the Kambha OR
8. Dig a trench and then put the fermenting wet waste in it, cover it up.
9. After three weeks you have beautiful black compost.

Adding the Bokashi powder to daily food waste.

Note:
1. The fermented pungent potion poured in kitchen sink and bathroom drains, toilets or septic system will help prevent build up of algae and help control odors.
2. It can be used as soil activator (diluted).
3. There may be strong smell only when the lid is open.

The liquid that separates from the food waste. This is good algae and can be used as a drain cleaner.

For a visual slideshow of the entire Bokashi composting process, here is Vani’s Bokashi method composting FB album, that gives you a step-by-step method, from food waste to moist compost!

Read Part 1: Khamba Composting, Part 2: Vermicomposting.


  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vani Murthy is one of the city’s most active waste management community campaigners and a much recognised face in Malleswaram, Vani is a member of We Care for Malleswaram, YIMBY, the Malleswaram Swabhimana Initiative and the Solid Waste Management Round Table. A prolific backyard composter, Vani, in her garden teeming with fresh herbs, flowers, vegetables and wriggling earthworms, has tried and ... more

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  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vani Murthy is one of the city’s most active waste management community campaigners and a much recognised face in Malleswaram, Vani is a member of We Care for Malleswaram, YIMBY, the Malleswaram Swabhimana Initiative and the Solid Waste Management Round Table. A prolific backyard composter, Vani, in her garden teeming with fresh herbs, flowers, vegetables and wriggling earthworms, has tried and ... more
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Discuss this article on Facebook

  • Sabina Kakalia

    How much does the packet of bokashi cost and how long will it last.?

  • Vijaya Shenoy

    Please tell us where do you get the bokashe powder.

  • Anita E Kohli

    Hi, I’m on the last stage of bokashu composting. Have layered with cocopeat and kept it for 2 weeks. Here’s a post on what I did https://anitaelise.com/2017/09/15/kitchen-waste-composting-at-home/

    I just checked my compost – the base layer is still very wet and has worms, while the upper layer is mostly decomposted (except for some sitaphal which is still not completely composted) and looks like soil. The instructions said this may take 3 weeks to completely compost.

    Should I expect a longer wait because this bin was started during the monsoon?