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Bokashi is an ancient Japanese technology based around the use of fermentative probiotic microbes.
Japanese farmers used to cover food and other organic waste with their local soils which were very rich in fermentative microbes. They then left the matter to ferment for a few weeks after which they buried the material. What they found was that by fermenting the food waste prior to burying it the speed of the humification process (the breakdown of organic matter into humus) was vastly increased. Farmers thus recycled their food waste back into the soils they farmed, maintaining the fertility of their soils without the use of other inputs.
In the 1980s, a Japanese scientist managed to combine these fermentative microbes together into a stable, mixed culture. Thus the Bokashi system could be more reliably reproduced, allowing for this system of fermenting food waste to be adopted all over the world. Below are simple ways that you can use Bokashi in your garden.Download my handy guide to everything bokashi!
Potent Plant Fertilizer
Your fermented food waste can be used in a number of ways as a fertilizer and soil conditioner. You can use it in a range of applications including digging it directly into the soil, mixing it with soil in pots for potted plants or even feeding it to your worm farm!
Once the food waste has been fermented, it can be composted very rapidly. However, it first needs to be exposed to oxygen, only then will the composting process begin. This means that the fermented food waste can be stored in the Bokashi composter (with the lid closed) for long periods of time without breaking down or developing foul odours.
When you are ready to turn your fermented food waste into compost, simply dig a trench in the growing bed that you wish to plant in the future, mix the food waste with an equal volume of soil and cover completely with the rest of the soil. Within two weeks, the food waste will be completely broken down into a dark, rich compost and ready to plant into. This will provide your plants will all the nutrition that they require for the next growing season and build a healthy, probiotic rich soil.
You can also feed your existing garden beds and trees by digging the trench for the fermented food waste about 30 cm away from the established plants or under the dripline of your tree.
Add your fermented food waste to your garden compost and reduce the composting time. Layer your bokashi food waste between dry organic material in your garden compost heap. For every 1 composter of bokashi food waste, use 5 composters of dry organic material.
Another way to use your fermented food waste is to build topsoil with it. Establish your own enriched soil for use as potting soil or establishing gardens beds by mixing 1 composter of bokashi food waste with 5 composters of garden soil/old potting soil. This ratio depends on the richness of your soil so, if you have rich soils, you could experiment with using less soil. Then place in a plastic bag and seal airtight, or use any suitable airtight container and place the bag in a warm spot out of direct sunlight for 4 weeks. Simply remove and use enriched soil as potting soil or to establish a garden bed.
Don’t forget about the nutrient-enriched bokashi tee you can tap off from your composter. It can be used to feed lawns (dilute 1:100), gardens and pot plants (dilute 1:300), succulents (dilute 1:500), and even sensitive plants (dilute 1:1000).