Sunday, 11 July 2010

We've gone Bokashi!

Composting the kitchen scraps has long been part of our household routine, but an article in the local paper about the burgeoning rat and mice population made me realise that I needed to find a better way of managing it.  I want to keep on composting, and also want to avoid contributing to this population boom by laying on regular meals which would certainly result in the patter of more little feet than otherwise.  I would be distressed by the use of either traps or poisons - far better to prevent this sort of problem from arising in the first place.

Bokashi buckets present an excellent solution: food scraps are completely enclosed, and the addition of healthy composting organisms causes them to break down rapidly into organic matter.  A month or so after reaching full capacity the bucket-load can either be trenched directly into the ground or added to an existing compost system in a form no longer suitable for rodents to feed on. 

Even better, the buckets can be kept indoors as they seal completely and are therefore odourless.  You might want to add your scraps to them outside though. 

Almost all food scraps can go into them.  The literature says that paper, soup, fats and bones should be excluded.  I'm watching with interest to see how the system copes with tea bags! 

The image here shows that each bucket set-up consists of one bucket over another.  Any liquid produced by the composting scraps drains through to the lower bucket which can be easily removed.  Topped up with water in a ratio of about five to one the liquid can be poured directly onto the garden as fertilizer.

The buckets come in two sizes: ten litre and fifteen litre.  Although I was tempted to get large ones, I'm glad I didn't, as the smaller ones are quite heavy enough to carry!  I've got two at present, but can see that I'll need to get at least one more. 

Each bucket set comes with a one kilo bag of the 'Compost-zing' which is sprinkled in with the scraps to speed up decomposition.  It looks rather like sawdust and has only a slight, mild smell.   

I got ours from the local council, but they can be purchased on-line directly from the producer or other distributors. Pricing varies.

Later notes: 
If seriously considering this option you may wish to consider these points:
  • Once 'mature' the contents of your buckets still needs somewhere to go, either trenched directly into the ground, or into a compost heap with other rotting garden debris.
  • If left untended for too long the buckets can get mighty malodorous, so it pays to keep an eye on this, and to drain the liquid from the lower bucket regularly.
  • Bokashi buckets that are kept outside the house during winter, say, in a garage or shed, will probably not be warm enough to do anything much.
I'm not too fussy about mine, and use them for the degree of pre-compost rotting which renders them unfit for animal consumption and a good step along the way to becoming re-usable compost.  I add the contents to the compost heap when I've decided they've been in the bucket long enough, which works well.

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