Catherine Smith
Catherine Smith
  • Hometalker
  • Fredericksburg, VA
Asked on Jun 23, 2013

Does anyone else here, use Bokashi for composting?

Debbi CCatherine SmithCrafty2you
+17

Answered

Bokashi is a japanese word for "garbage juice". This method helps increase the number of beneficial microbes available in your soil. We use the mother culture from EM-1, to make our own microbe infused bran and Activated EM-1. We've been using this in conjunction with Azomite, an organic trace mineral additive with great results. We've been using organic gardening methods for over 30 years and have good soil, but when we incorporated the Azomite and EM-1 it was like we did "supersize it, please". We greatly increased our production of veggies. This is works well for flowers, trees,lawn, etc. Totally non-toxic and 100% organic. Love the stuff!
12 answers
  • Douglas Hunt
    on Jun 24, 2013

    This is very interesting, Catherine. So you basically compost in a bucket and create this "super juice"? Tell us more!

  • Catherine Smith
    on Jun 25, 2013

    Well, sort of Douglas, this method is designed to help super charge your composting. I'm not sure I made myself clear. The key is the use of a microorganism culture, combined with the composting materials this is more of a fermentation process than regular composting breakdown. Actually, it works much faster in most cases, and I like the idea of being able to discard meat and dairy products without a problem using this. These are probiotics for the soil. Dr. Higa, a Japanese, Horticulturalist is credited as the originator of the sustainable concept. It is widely used in Japan, Korea and several other Asian countries. The basic idea is to create an environment for these beneficial microbes to increase and multiply. And to then, use them to enhance your soil. Beneficial microbes are normally present in the soil, but over time they become depleted, they are "living" things and die, a lot of time from poor soil management practices. Using chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides certainly contributes to the problem. You can use the finished product in a number of ways, dump it in your compost, dig a hole in your garden and bury it, use the juice from the bucket (there's a spigot attached at the bottom) and spray your garden, lawn, trees, etc. I have been using organic gardening methods for over 30 years, I ask a lot of questions about (what's in the mix?) and this is truly a totally organic product. You must have beneficial microbes in order to have have healthy, productive plants, they help cause the chemical reactions needed to unlock the nutrients in the soil. Several years ago, I was introduced to Azomite, this is another organic product that contains many trace minerals, that are also sometimes lacking in the soil. I have used them in conjunction and was amazed at the results. My DH and I did some test beds, using one with regular compost and worm castings, one with just Bokashi, and one with Bokashi and Azomite together. The 3rd out preformed the other's hands down. (I will be happy to provide pictures, if I can find the CD I saved them too, LOL) The plants were noticeably bigger, and healthier. Had less sign of insect damage and actually still produced abet more slowly during 12 days of 100 degree heat. I was flabbergasted! We have good soil, but this was over the top. Lately, we've shifted to containers mainly, I have some health issues so getting out in the main garden doesn't work so well for me. And the containers are doing wonderfully well, same kind of production and are extremely healthy. Yeah, Douglas, I'm an advocate for using this method, if you're into organics this is the way to go. :)

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Jun 25, 2013

    Very interesting, Catherine. I definitely believe in the power of beneficial microbes. Would love to see the photos if you find them.

  • Catherine Smith
    on Jun 25, 2013

    Will have to wait a bit, Douglas. My computer has to go into the shop, since it doesn't want to take CD's or DVDs at this point, sigh. Always something.

  • Bonnie Bassett
    on Sep 4, 2013

    where do you get it and is it expensive? I would love to improve my composting and maybe speed up the process.

  • Catherine Smith
    on Sep 4, 2013

    @Bonnie Bassett Let me explain this in more detail. There is a product called EM-1 which is the " concentrate mother culture of beneficial bacteria" Here's the url for that http://www.teraganix.com/EM-1-Microbial-Inoculant-p/1000.htm As you can see it's relatively inexpensive. The only other thing you need to make AEM-1 (Activated EM-1) is some black strap molasses and a closed container. We can get about 16-18 gallons of product from that 1 container. Normally we mix up one batch at a time, and use as needed, it takes about 7 days to "work" a new batch. Stored in a cool dry place it stays active for about a year. It is totally organic and safe to use on everything. Bokashi (which means garbage juice in Japanese) is another form using the EM-1 culture. It consists of a 5 gallon covered bucket with an attached spigot. You can buy a commercially made one see here: http://www.amazon.com/All-Food-Recycling-Compost-Bokashi/dp/B0036F9LNS , but frankly the homemade one works just as well and it cost us about 89 cents for the spigot. A lot cheaper, lol. There are 2 ways to use the bokashi bucket, you'll notice the commercial job comes with bran. You can make your own with bran and the EM-1, or you can simply pour a cup of the AEM-1 in the bucket. You layer the inside of the bucket with all the normal things you use in your compost pile, veggie parings, coffee grounds, filters, tea bags, etc. However, with this system, you can also do meat and dairy products as well. The microbes break those down and "pickle" them. You stack your garbage in the bucket add the bran or AEM-1 and weight it down with a plate) just keep adding layers until the bucket is full. In the mean time, you will start getting "juice" from your spigot, which you can use both on your compost pile or plants straight. Once the bucket is full, you can add it to your compost bin, or you can dig a hole in your garden plot and let the microbes go to work. This stuff is a probiotic treatment for plants, just like they have for humans. Soil science is beginning to really emphasis just how critical how good microbial life action is to plant growth. Microbes are living things, so they tire out, die etc, and if you've been using chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers that become accelerated. By spraying your soil and plants with this solution you are re-introducing highly active microbes into your soil. According to the manufacture it takes about 3 years of applications to bring your microbial life up to optimum, but you can begin to see some very positive results almost immediately. I have gardened using organic methods for over 30 years and I have good soil, however, this blew me away. My production increased greatly with all my veggies, my black walnut trees which are very old had renewed vigor and produced more nuts than they ever had before. Same thing with our pear trees and pecan tree. Three years ago I happened to meet a gentlemen who sells and promotes a product called Azomite. It's another organic product consisting of many trace minerals, harvested in Utah. We got to chatting and I agreed to try is Azomite, if he would try my Bokashi juice. So we traded, and we were both blown away by the results, the Azomite in combo with the minerals in my red clay soil worked wonders. Production went up again, and he has a marvelous garden area discovered he was dealing with similar situation. Now he sells this product to many of our local small farmer/nurseries. So now he's touting the Bokashi to go with. This area is almost all either red clay or blue clay. Soil chemistry indicates clay because of it's chemical nature, grabs and holds trace minerals, like calcium, magnesium, etc. The microbes can immediately grab those now readily available minerals and allow the plants to use those nutrients right away. Azomite is not terribly expensive, I'd have to double check with him on prices, but if I remember it was running about $20 for a 80lb bag. And a little goes a long way. I normally throw in a cup or 2 in the Bokashi bucket and let it do it's thing. We also use this "juice" in our worm food. So our worm castings are loaded with active microbes. It's a really cool deal and the worms love the stuff. We normally trench feed and they come on the run when this is poured in the trench. I know this is rather wordy, but I want to make sure I'm making myself clearly understood. When I first started working with this I found some it rather confusing, it took me a little while to understand the differences. Please feel free to email me if you have other questions or need help. These are 2 of the truly "organic" materials I have run across in many years. They are the "real deal". :)

    does anyone else here use bokashi for composting, composting, flowers, gardening, go green, Homemade Bokashi bucket
  • Leona Zentner
    on Dec 15, 2013

    Thank you Catherine for sharing this very important info. I grew up on a farm in Pa. And lived many years in Va.and always had a garden. I then married and moved to Fl.living from Key West to Jacksonville and many places in between, lol. I could never get a good garden going in Fl.no matter what I tryed. I even went to the UF master gardening classes and nothing worked, lol. We have bought a house and 5 acres in WV and we are retireing soon so I am going to try this and hope I can get back to my gardening. Thank you again for all your help. My younger sister lives in Fredricksburg, Va , we even looked at a house there, but that was a few years ago and they were really building and we decided to move to the mountains, lol.

  • Chris
    on Dec 15, 2013

    Hi Catherine, I do I do! I first found out about it by seeing this documentary, www.bokashimovie.com then went looking for the product. Found the bran, only in 1 local place, tucked in a dusty corner, they seem more interested in other less natural garden enhancements (sigh). So used that, made a bucket system with 2 5 gallon pails, didn't use enough bran I think in the first bucket because it got rather stinky, even with emptying the drip liquid. I used more bran in the second batch and that seemed to be the solution. Ran out of the bran so bought the EM liquid and a big bag of bran and will make my own when it gets warm again. The 2 buckets I buried disappeared quite quickly, and had some great growth on top! Always so nice to read of another trying the same practice! Seeing how the liquid is used around the world is amazing! I am a big fan of fermented goodies and fascinated with how it benefits us, and the ground we grow things in! Long live the microherd! :)

  • Crafty2you
    on Dec 15, 2013

    I do not know the process of making the microbes, but I know my son-in-law makes his own for his orange trees. He is a farmer, and tries to stay up on what ever works.

  • Catherine Smith
    on Dec 15, 2013

    You can make your own, using your soil. However, I prefer the concentrated mother culture, since you get the same quality of finished product every time. We've been using both Bokashi and the activated EM-1 for about 4 years. We have good ground, since we've been using only organic practices for over 30 years. But this stuff really gave everything a boost. It's amazing what these little critters do for us.

  • Catherine Smith
    on Dec 15, 2013

    WTG, Chris. I found using the Activated EM-1 a lot easier to work with than the bran. I just add about 3/4 of a cup to the garbage as I'm stacking the bucket. Weight it down with an old plate and a small brick. My DIL doesn't like the smell, but to me it smells like undiluted vinegar. It is a a bit pungent, but nothing you can't live with. I ought to be selling the stuff or at least get a free bottle or something, LOL I've got about a dozen of my MG friends hooked on it as well.

    • Chris
      on Dec 19, 2013

      @Catherine Smith I agree - the smell when it's done right is simply pickly, it's when I didn't use enough it was definitely not the same :) It takes a me a while to fill the bucket and there is a fair amount of liquid to be drained off over time, so that's why I was using the bran.

  • Debbi C
    on Dec 19, 2013

    This form allows you to compost things you wouldn't normally put in your compost pile right off, like bones, meats, etc. It causes the food stuff to begin the fermentation process and then you put it in your regular compost or dig a hole in your garden and bury it. It has helped me tremendously with things like composting greasy paper towels, bones, etc.

    • Catherine Smith
      on Dec 19, 2013

      @Debbi C Good point. Yes, Debbi is correct. Using a Bokashi bucket allows you to include meats, small bones, etc in your composting. The microorganisms literally "pickle" those type of products and render them down to usable organic by-product. Good stuff!!

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