Yesterday after the big feast, your friendly and conservation-minded Planet Natural Blogger noticed something he notices every year at Thanksgiving: how much food is being discarded. The abundance made me think of all the foodstuff that becomes waste and how much methane it generates once in the landfill. And just like that, I had something to put at the top of my Christmas list: a Bokashi bucket!
Bokashi is a self-contained, anaerobic method of composting that accepts things that, for reasons of pests, varmints and sanitation, shouldn’t go into your regular compost heap. Bokashi is actually the bran or other grain meal that is inoculated with beneficial, highly active microbes that will turn food scraps into a useable compost tea. This tea is so potent you wouldn’t want to use it directly on plants right away. Instead it’s allowed to mellow over a period of a couple weeks, then diluted; or buried in your garden soil in increments that temper its life-boosting power.
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A Bokashi bucket is the sealed system in which the compost, dusted with the inoculant, is made. Gardeners and those just wanting to keep their food scraps out of the landfill will put one under their sink, out in the garage, even on the balcony to their apartment. Food scraps — including dairy and bones! — are compressed inside the bucket and voila! If done correctly, in about a month you end up with the Bokashi tea, a potent (and acidic) amendment that’s drawn from a spigot at the bottom of the bucket. It’s said that it can be added to your vermi-composting pile and the worms will help finish it without any danger to themselves. (I haven’t tried this and would want to question those that have before attempting.) This stuff is valuable and I wouldn’t mind getting a Mason jar half full of it to use later as a supplement. Just be sure it loses its acidity, which happens slowly over time, or quickly with adjustment, and that it has a chance to “finish” once you draw it from the spigot at the bottom of the bucket.
We’ll leave the details of Bokashi composting to the experts. But here’s our suggestion: wouldn’t this make an interesting and unusual holiday gift for the conservationist and/or gardener on your list? (I’m hinting here.) And, like a vermi-composter, a Bokashi system can be a great learning tool as your kids set-up, monitor and harvest from it. Classroom teachers, take note: Bokashi has great science project potential with a worthy goal…reducing landfill waste… and a valuable “green” end product. Imagine the possibilities. Santa, are you listening?