For the last couple of years, we’ve been trying to find ways to improve our composting system.
To explain. We compost as much of the garden and kitchen waste as we can. All the garden / allotment waste goes into cold compost heaps which are collected, turned and composted. Kitchen waste goes into a closed bin which is put into the bottom of the garden waste pile when we turn it. For many years this has been successful and we’ve generated plenty of compost for the garden and the allotment (the only problem being transporting the compost from home to the allotment but that’s another story).
Our niggle was that we couldn’t get rid of things like cooked food, meat, fish and suchlike that would encourage rats to the compost heap. In fact, last winter we had rats in the heap because we put a load of old potatoes into the heap (rather than the kitchen waste pile which is more rodent proof).
Anyway, earlier in the year we invested in a Bokashi composting system and this post is a report back on the results.
For those of you who aren’t aware of Bokashi, its an anerobic pre-composting system. The idea is that your food waste is infected with a fungus, using an innoculated bran, which “pickles” the waste stopping it from rotting but preparing it for the microbes in the soil so that when you bury the resulting pre-compost its is unattractive to vermin and decomposes more quickly.
The results are (in our opinion) pretty good. We keep the bokashi bins in the garage attached to the house with a small “intermediate” pot in the kitchen that we empty when its full or every other day or so. The bin takes about two weeks of waste with regular layers of bran to introduce the fungus. Regardless of what we put into the bin, it doesn’t smell nasty. (There is a slight smell when you open the bin, but its certainly no worse than brewing wine or beer). You need two bins, one to be filling and one to be pickling. (If you generated more waste then three or more might be necessary). At the end of the fortnight sitting, we take the bin to the allotments and bury it in the ground, covering it with six to nine inches of soil and leave it alone. After a couple of months, the soil microbes have done their job and the pre-compost has vanished without a trace.
So, what are the advantages? Well, the main point from our perspective is that none of our kitchen waste goes into the landfill bin. Our bin is emptied once a fortnight and previously it could get pretty smelly in that time. Now the bin only contains unrecyclable plastic which means that it doesn’t smell at all. The bokashi compost is going back into the soil and (hopefully) improving that, we never have enough compost.
The only downside is the cost of the bokashi bran, but we bought what was quoted as being enough for about six months when we got the bin system and we are about two thirds of the way through that and it seems to be working fine. Obviously you have to have somewhere to bury the pre-compost so its not useful for somebody in a flat for example. But overall, it is something I would recommend to everybody.