Bokashi

What is Bokashi Composting?

What is Bokashi composting? The rough translation is ‘the fermentation of organic materials’, which is pretty broad. With this broad definition of Bokashi we can liken it to a basic fermentation recipe. So in that way, you can think of this as a guide to fermentation. I like the Bokashi buzzword, it sounds cool, but don’t feel like you’re limited to fermenting kitchen scraps in your “Bokashi Bin” (aka fermentation bucket – sounds way less cool).

What is fermentation?

It’s important to note – Bokashi composting doesn’t break things down the way traditional aerobic composting does. You won’t get a pile of dirt from your kitchen scraps, fish, bones or whatever you’re composting this way. You will simply have the same material, looking a little more monochrome, more easily broken/separated/smushed when you squeeze it, and smelling sour. BUT, this material, in the next stage of decomposition, will break down much faster and more completely than it would otherwise.

Why Bokashi Composting??

So Bokashi composting, under the broad definition above, is far from just pre-composting kitchen scraps bound for the traditional compost heap. It is a valuable tool we can use to boost the decomposition rate or digestibility of a nutrient source. Just like in the anaerobic compost tea, we aren’t worried about overloading the system with nutrients. You don’t need it to heat up, so you don’t have to monitor the ingredients to get just the right balance of greens and browns. It won’t heat up like a traditional compost pile, so it won’t get too hot if you put in all green nutrients.

Just like comparing aerobic vs anaerobic compost teas, we can compare bokashi composting to traditional composting. Aerobic composting produces a wide variety of beneficial aerobic microbes which break down a limited amount of nutrients into plant available forms. In bokashi, a little more limited group of beneficial anaerobes break down an unlimited amount of nutrients into more plant available forms. The breakdown process doesn’t go as far as traditional composting, but it still makes a much more bioavailable nutrient source for whatever your need – plants, animals or people.

So, unlimited nutrients. In fact depending on the need we will use only nutrients in the system. In this way you can break down a ton of material safely and without smell. You can’t just put your kitchen scraps in the compost heap every day. You will likely end up with a wet, sloppy, stinky mess that will harm the garden rather than help. So instead, you’ll use bokashi to break down the material scentlessly and safely before adding it to the garden or compost bin. If you want to make your animal feed much more effective, increase the growth rate of your animals, you’ll use bokashi to pre-digest their feed. Or maybe a batch of animal feed got wet and will spoil or has already started to spoil. Bokashi! A ton of green waste and no brown waste to balance it out? Bokashi! After fermenting, you can add the waste to the garden where it will quickly break down and feed the soil. There are a myriad applications of this valuable technique.

Basic Principles of Bokashi

As mentioned above, you can ferment anything organic – food, paper, bones, sticks, coffee grounds, moss, leaves, animal waste, bird feathers, etc etc. It just involves adding an energy source (sugar most commonly), the right microbes, proper moisture level, and keeping the system anaerobic (no oxygen).

The simple energy source should be simple carbohydrates – sugar, syrup, molasses, honey, jaggery, etc. The generally accepted best source is molasses, because of all the vitamins and minerals it contains. In any case, the simple carbohydrate source is the basic feed of the anaerobic bacteria that you’ll use to ferment the solids in your system. You can use up to 1/3rd part sugar in terms of solids. For example, you might have 30kg of solids to ferment, you would add 10kg sugar max. You can use less sugar, and the fermentation will not proceed as far along since there is less food source. You can also diversify the feeds by adding other energy sources – fruits which contain sugar, etc. My personal guideline with sugar is – the more biologically active the ingredients, the more sugar to be used. The abundance of food helps beneficial fermentation bacteria dominate. For example I would add more sugar when fermenting bird feathers or fish than I would coffee grounds or fresh cut leaves. The other guideline I follow is stated above – the more sugar you add, the ‘farther’ your system will ferment and the ‘stronger’ it will be – the bacteria convert sugar to alcohols and acids. So for example when making animal feed Bokashi I add less sugar than when making compost Bokashi.

Just as in aerobic composting, in Bokashi microbes are the foundation and good quality Bokashi hinges on having the correct microbes. Lactobacillus bacteria are the main workers here, but also other anaerobes like Actinomyces, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus and more. To make sure these beneficial microbes dominate, we’ll inoculate our Bokashi with a microbial inoculant that is chalk full of them. That way they get a head start on other bacteria. These beneficial anaerobes produce enzymes and other byproducts like organic acids that hinder the growth of competing bacteria – that’s why fermentation is a food preservation technique – pathogens can’t grow! It’s still possible to Bokashi without the microbial inoculant, but there is a much greater risk of the batch going “bad” – the wrong bacteria thriving – we don’t recommend it. If you don’t have the microbial inoculant I’d advise adding more sugar to your Bokashi. You can monitor your Bokashi by smell – it should smell faintly alcoholic/vinegar/sour but not in a foul way.

Bacteria don’t thrive in dry conditions – often they don’t die either, they form cysts/endospores/etc and wait out the poor environmental conditions. We want active bacteria not sleeping bacteria – so we’ll make sure there is enough moisture to keep them alert and mobile. For me that is at least 30% moisture. You can have more no problem, but I wouldn’t recommend less than 30% moisture. I think they are just more efficient in a moist environment. Maybe someone can pitch in here on the lower limit of moisture level, this is the arbitrary limit I work with. My animal feed Bokashi is normally around 45% moisture level. Enough that you squeeze it and it clumps firmly together in a ball but doesn’t drip. Keep in mind this is an anaerobic technique, so there is no upper limit to the moisture level. The moisture level you use depends on your purposes, really. For fermenting animal feed for example, normally you start with a very dry feed and just wet it enough for the microbes to work – no need to make animal feed soup. For kitchen waste bokashi, you don’t really worry about the moisture level, but normally you add a drain for the simple fact you can drain off the nutrient rich bokashi leachate as it forms.

Lastly, oxygen level. This technique, Bokashi, is an anaerobic process so it has to be oxygen free. We’ll exclude oxygen by keeping the system sealed – in a bucket with lid, sealed plastic bag, etc. It is best to use a bucket with lid though so that you can pack the material down and it won’t change shape, and also won’t be disturbed during fermentation. That is a big factor – during fermentation keep the Bokashi system as static and undisturbed as possible – minimize the gas exchange in the system. This helps ensure you have a successful fermentation – introducing oxygen and thereby aerobic bacteria is one of the easiest ways to get a bad Bokashi – you will know when you finish the fermentation and it doesn’t smell right, smells foul. Remember a good Bokashi should smell, after about a month or so, faintly alcohol/vinegar/sour but not foul or putrid.

Now we’ve covered the basic principles of Bokashi composting. Keeping these principles in mind, you can ferment any organic solid to break it down into more easily digested/degraded/composted material ready for human/animal/plant/microbe consumption.

Bokashi examples

Traditional bokashi

There are all kinds of examples of bokashi out there. Commonly it is done at home in the kitchen below the sink – kitchen scraps going into a bokashi bin, which gets emptied into the compost pile when it fills up. My mom does this at home. Funny story – the first time she drained the bokashi leachate for use with the houseplants, she mixed about 1cup per gallon. Only a couple of the plants died but they all got burned. Haha, be careful with that stuff it’s strong!

How it’s done: normally this bokashi is made in layers. Start with a layer of ‘bokashi bran’ which is just bokashi itself – fermented wheat bran normally. Make the bokashi bran by mixing water, sugar, and a microbial inoculant like our lacto serum with the carbon rich growth medium. The growth medium is normally bran (wheat, rice, barley, rye, etc), but you can use any carbon rich source – sawdust, newspaper, groundnut cake, wood chips, etc. Ferment the bran at least 3 weeks prior to use. Once you have the bran ready, start with a layer of that. This establishes the microbes needed for proper bokashi making. After the first layer of bran, add the first layer of kitchen scraps (anything goes with the kitchen scraps – meat and dairy included – fermentation kills pathogenic bacteria). Alternate layers of bokashi bran and kitchen scraps from then on. When the bucket is full, empty it into the compost pile or bury a few inches deep directly in the garden.

Animal Feed Bokashi

You can use bokashi for much more than just the garden. An example of that is animal feed bokashi. I practice this at home. The dog and the roaches get the same food. It is a mixture of dog food and some other things I have around that are excellent nutrition sources. These ingredients are mixed and then fermented for 6 weeks. This bokashi is an awesome food – both dog and roaches love it! In the case of the roaches it is a filler when no kitchen scraps are available, it’s a nice treat for them haha.

How it’s done: Take your animal feed, whatever it may be – seeds and grains for rodents and chickens, pellets for your pigs, dog or cat food, etc. Add the water, sugar and microbes like lactobacillus and BIM until the feed is sufficiently moist (30%+). Then add the feed to a sealable container like a 5 gallon bucket or 50 gallon drum. Pack it as you go to remove as much air as possible. Leave for at least 4 weeks to ferment, then feed to animals. Keep it sealed when not using, to maintain anaerobic conditions, or dry it out away from sunlight to keep longer term. You can use this bokashi as the bokashi bran for your kitchen scraps – it is a great microbe source to keep your kitchen scraps bokashi fermenting properly.

Bokashi Summary

Bokashi is a valuable tool in the natural farmer’s toolkit. It goes far beyond simply composting kitchen scraps. It has applications all over the farm, when other forms of composting are unsuitable or when conditions don’t permit. It allows you to safely compost large quantities of wet, nutrient rich material that would otherwise spoil. Keep this technique in mind and have fun anaerobically composting around your farm and garden!

  • David

    Would you mind adding a recipe for the bokashi bran? It doesn’t sound that difficult from your description, but it would be easier if you provided actual measurements like the other recipes.

    • Patrick

      Hey David,
      I will add a recipe for it, but see Aljaz’s comment below – you can see from the recipe it is pretty similar (identical really) to my animal feed bokashi. And I do indeed use the animal feed bokashi as bokashi bran. Just substitute the feed ingredients for high-carbon ingredients like: wheat/oat/barley/rice/etc bran, peat moss, coco coir, shredded newspaper, straw hay, etc. It is pretty flexible actually, but I’ll post an exact recipe soon.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

      • doyle

        Can I use shredded newsprint wet with the lab mix and just layer it in the bucket as you add garbage instead of fermenting the newspaper? Can I ship the fermenting the bran and just use it wet as i bokashi? Thanks doyle

  • Nance

    Thank you so much for the clear explanation of Bokashi composting! Very familiar with other types of composting, I did not know the processes behind this.

    I’m printing out your info. for a personal reference book (and to use it to convince my DH to adopt some of these methods).

    • Patrick

      That’s great to hear Nance! Yep, bokashi is pretty good stuff, great to use around the house and farm.
      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • michael

    Just found out about your method and site,it looks great. will be going over all info.Have a question tho
    Iam a frustrated gardener who is desperately trying to be able the brix levels in the plants for the last several yearsmbut to no avail. will this help?
    thanks

    • Patrick

      Hey Michael,

      That’s great you found the bokashi article and are trying it out. It is a pretty neat way to fertilize. I can’t say whether it will specifically help the brix levels in your plants, but it should help the microbial population which should help brix levels. Adding sugar doesn’t affect brix levels directly but it does increase the microbial population, which lends all kinds of benefits to plants, including brix levels. I’d encourage you to do a healthy regime of compost (bokashi and traditional) and see if that helps.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

    • Barry Hocking

      Hi Micheal, I have been using Bokashi for many years on our farm and yes it does lift the Brix readings in most produce. Regards, Barry. P.S. Thanks for the great website Gill and Patrick.

      • Patrick

        Awesome comment thanks for sharing your experience!!

  • Aljaž

    Making bokashi bran is easy.

    Take one part leaf mold, two parts wheat bran, half part sugar source (molasses, sugar, marmelade, fruit syrup etc.) and water.
    Dilute sugar source in water, mix bran and leaf mold, wet it with sugary water and pack it into a vucket that you seal thight for one month.
    That’s it.
    That’s just one way.

    You can also take BIM or LB serum, dilute in water and wet wheat bran, put in bucket for a month…

    • Patrick

      Yes! Exactly. Thanks Aljaz. I will post an article on bokashi bran but it’s really just the same bokashi recipe, but typically involves bran somehow. Although you can substitute that for another high carbon source.

  • Gaston

    Great stuff, I love it. A couple of questions: I went ahead and got three buckets going and things a moving along. If I did not quite add enough sugar can I air dry later ( so I can add more diluted sugar without making soup) and re-ferment? Or finish fermenting if you will.
    Also, When I am done, how long can I keep it in the buckets moist? Say it will be done in mid-March can I leave it like that until mid-May or should I air dry in the garage?

    I am really enjoying this, thanks again…

    • Patrick

      That’s awesome to hear Gaston! To answer your questions:

      1. yeah you can air dry and referment it, no problem.
      2. You can keep it in the buckets for a long time – 6+ months shouldnt be a problem. Just a matter of keeping it anaerobic. Once you start opening it a lot (using it), best to use it in a month or two. At all times when not using it, keep it sealed and as anaerobic as possible.

      Glad you’re enjoying it! Bokashi is awesome stuff.

      Patrick

  • David

    Bokashi is much more flexible with what can be fermented, but there must be limitations or things that don’t work well even with a bokashi system. I’m thinking about things that might be harmful to the bacteria like high salt or alcohol, stuff that is too dense like woody broccoli stalks or bones in meat. Worm bins have a difficult time with lots of onions and citrus, so this might be an issue too.

    • Patrick

      Yeah that is something to keep in mind. I think ‘everything in moderation’ is a good strategy.. Being conscious of what you’re adding and varying amount of lacto/sugar you add is a good approach I think..

    • Timothy

      There are are some things that don’t ferment well alone, like the garlic and ginger. The additional sugar helps. However, various strains do lactobacillus do have quite a tolerance for salt and alcohol. Sourdough is a simbiottic relationship of yeast and lactobacillus were the yeast creates alcohol that the lactobacillus tolerates and the lactobacillus creates acid that the yeast tolerates. Both of which inhibit he growth of other microbs. Sourkraut is made of just cabbage and salt. The salt pulls jouces out of the cabbage and makes a brine. Since the cabbage is in the brine it is anaerobic and the salt inhibits the growth of micros other than lactobacillus until the acidity builds up. There is no need for inoculation since most other microb can’t tolerate the although. I think anything salty enough to prevent fermentation probably has more salt than I want to add to my soil.

      • Patrick

        Thanks Timothy, excellent post..

  • Rodney Galarneau

    It would be very helpful to discuss the use of bokashi. I’ve been experimenting with it for several years, i remember my first attempt burying it in a bed as proscribed and two weeks later setting in beet transplants (mistake) I grew lovely beets and although the bed was mulched every dry spell would produce the unmistakable drooping of leaf stalks. Apon harvest I discovered that the beets never developed the fine hair roots necessary to maintain moisture levels. I would like to learnto use bokashi in a no dig situation perhaps layering my beds in the fall and covering them with a semi permeable cover.

    • Patrick

      Thanks Rodney thats a good idea, I will probably break that into a new post on uses of bokashi. Thanks for sharing your experience. Yeah it would be nice to use bokashi no-dig, you’d have to cover it somehow so that animals aren’t attracted (kinda dependent on what you fermented). But seems like you could use bokashi as top dressing and then cover with mulch or something like that and get away with it.

  • ron

    hi… just a quick question about drying the bokashi bran after fermentation, some say you can dry it out directly under the sun but some say the uv rays from the sun will kill the microbes in the bokashi bran. what would be the best way in drying out the bokashi bran?

    • Patrick

      How harmful the sun is to the bran may be debated, but it’s not really good for the bran. So if you have a choice, dry it in the shade. That’s what I’ve been told and it makes sense. Now, if you don’t have a choice and have to dry it in the sun, well I wouldn’t throw that away! I think it will still work. No right or wrong in my mind just ‘more ideal’ and ‘less ideal’.

  • Gaston

    Hi again, a few thoughts regarding the use of fermented materials as top dressing. Animals being attracted to it is something to think about for me but what about extracting the nutrients via making teas? Thanks to your instructions I have taken to ferment alfalfa, a material I use profusely already, ( and bat guano, and kelp powder) and I know it’s being used lots by rose growers for instance. Now, with the fermentation helping to extract hormones and others things, teas should be perfect no? I wonder to what extent one would extract nutrients versus burying the materials?

    Another question: today i have started another Bokashi bucket with crab apples and mountain ash berries (Sorbus decora) ( they are know to contain sorbic acid, it should be alright no?). Anyhow, the question is: in other fermentation processes where you ferment plants using the microbes already on the plants you use the liquid as a fertilizer. Now, I wanted to add molasse so I added liquid to dilute it and of course there is lots of liquid in the crab apples. No doubts it’s sitting in a soup. I wonder if when it’s done (bubbling nicely with a fermentation lock as I write) and I saved, strained and bottled the liquid I would have a first class fertilizer no? ( not to mention i added bat guano, green sand, carbonite, rock phosphate to the fruits hehehe). Its should be a replica of Gill’s plant ferments with anaerobic bacterias but with the same result nevertheless right?

    I had to ask 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Thanks again, I am having loads of fun…

    • Patrick

      Hi Gaston,

      The bokashi’d materials would be an ideal food source for your compost teas, but be careful how much you add. You’re switching from anaerobic microbes to aerobic microbes and you don’t want to get stuck in between, haha.

      I don’t normally add more than 3% feedstock to my compost teas, by volume. For example a 5 gallon brew would have 0.5L compost plus a tbsp of sugar, fish fert, kelp meal, little things… Then you can brew that for 20-40hrs before use. Thats for aerobic compost teas though. If you’re just mixing the bokashi into water and then using that water in your garden immediately (immediately!), you could add more I’m sure, just watch the pH make sure it doesn’t get too acidic. It would be a good way to spread the nutrients around and I’ll have to experiment with this.

      Pssshh ya you’d have a first rate fertilizer. Yep it’s not quite the same as our recipe but thats the point of this stuff, it’s the starting point for you to make your own fertilizers with what you have available and what piques your interest, it’s what I love about it. That sounds like an awesome mix – your liquid and solids leftover will be awesome fertilizer. Another option for you. After straining off the liquid, you can now add 1/3rd sugar (and a bit of water if you want) to those solids and ferment again!

      • Gaston

        Yeah Patrick, I see where you are going with it. I wasn’t thinking using it in my aerobic compost teas though. I have been experimenting with harvesting forest floor ‘composting materials and that works goo, and yes I had very little to it. Tablespoon of this and that. As for the Fermented materials I had no intentions of storing it. I am intrigued as to how soluble nutrients have become once the materials is fermented versus non fermented materials. There is some logic (some 🙂 in the process as if you soak alfalfa for 72 hours you get the soluble material from it no? In my mind that was the logic behind the rose people recipe. So, increased solubility but yes I better keep an eye on the PH.

        As for the apple-mountain ash berries mixture I seem to be getting a distinct alcohol smell very early on. I wonder if the alcohol content would not be too high as logically there should already be alcohol in the berries and apples that have overwintered on the trees. I read stories about birds getting drunk on them and there had to be a reason the crab apples are not eaten by the birds and squirrels. So if there is a high content and I add more sugar (I did) and of course the micro organism, what should happen? More alcohol then turning into vinegar hence way too acidic? But even so, mixed in at like one tale spoon a litre it should be ok no?

        Indeed it’s not the same as your recipe but again the idea was around solubility and if there is indeed conversion to vinegar at one point there should be some kind of reaction with some of the chemicals in the products I added no? All intriguing stuff, lots of room for experiment.

        Thanks again !!!

        • Gaston

          Whoa… lots of spelling mistakes.. of course you will have guessed it was it works too not goo and one table spoon not one tale spoon… 🙁

        • Patrick

          ya man, lots of room to experiment..

          I’m sure the materials are more soluble after fermentation. And more maleable. For example you bokashi a bunch of stuff like broccoli stems, banana peels, etc, then mash them up – super easy. vs trying to mash them up before being fermented. So you mash them up and add water, you have lots of dissolved material in there. You could mix up the materials with water and if it’s too acidic and such then just dilute that when you apply on the garden.

          Hmm yeah the alcohol should turn to vinegar, but either way sounds pretty strong, you will have to dilute it. In any case when you dilute it all that stuff should be fine – plants don’t mind a little booze as long as it’s very dilute haha.. Test the pH of this 1tbsp/L mix and see what it reads. and test the pH of your crab apple soup! Curious to see where it goes.

          Cheers,
          Patrick

  • Gaston

    Thanks for the feedback Patrick. I’ll let you know how it turned out when it’s ready. 🙂

  • Sarah

    Hi Patrick. I’m just checking into this thread with great interest. Coffee is roasted locally and the chaff is a free by-product. Would it be suitable for the carbohydrate instead of bran?

    • Patrick

      Great question Sarah, I will have to try this with the starbucks grounds I get for free also. I think it will work just fine, in fact I think it will be a superb bran just because it’s pre-ground up for you, it’s tough and won’t break down but rather ‘house’ the microbes, and it’s pH is reasonable for lacto culture.

      I would weigh out your amount of DRY coffee grounds, then weigh out 1/3 that amount of sugar, mix the sugar with water, say half the weight of water that you have coffee grounds, add some lacto and then mix all that up. Ferment for 3-4 weeks and you should have an excellent bokashi bran!

      • Gian

        Hi Patrick,

        You mentioned that growth medium to be used in making bokashi bran should be carbon rich. In composting…coffee ground is labeled as nitrogen. Would using coffee grounds as bokashi bran by following your recipe would still work?

        • Patrick

          Hey Gian,

          While coffee grounds are listed as a Nitrogen source, they are also high in carbon and have a strong structure that won’t break down much at all, unlike other nitrogen sources like grass clippings. I think coffee grounds work fine and in fact I have some fermenting now as a batch of bokashi bran.

          Cheers,
          Patrick

  • Sarah

    I love the idea of the used coffee grounds and will give it a try. I was originally referring to the chaff that is removed from the beans when they are being roasted. It’s very dry and light weight; clearly a carbohydrate. What do you think about them? They too are plentiful and free. Dry like bran.

    • Patrick

      Ohh ya I was wondering about that, I just assumed chaff was the grounds.. In any case the chaff should work really well in this application. Looking at it’s description, it should work well as a fertilizer as well as bran. Try sprinkling a little on your beds and watering it in, after you bokashi it. Just not too much or it can burn your plants or drive the acidity too low.

  • Rodney Galarneau

    Patrick how do I acess your article on anerobic tea?

    • Rodney Galarneau

      Patrick so many things you have done are not accessible to me. I would love to read your comments on anerobic tea. Is it just diluted bokashi juice? I wish that everything you have written would still be accessible.

      • Patrick

        Haha it’s all there! Except the compost tea articles, they aren’t out yet. 😉

    • Patrick

      Hi Rodney,

      You know, I haven’t published it yet. I have an aricle on comparing aerobic vs anaerobic tea, how to make each type of tea and how to use each type. I spent a long time developing the methods and testing them, and then writing about them. I think this will be something I’d charge for. As you know I give 100% of this material away for free. However I’m aiming for that figure to be 99%. I will charge for the 1% of really awesome stuff that takes me a ton of time to produce. This big tea writeup is part of that 1%. I know, I’ll have to cut the composting series a little short, but it will be worth it I promise. The Compost Tea Handbook is going to be awesome. And hopefully there will be income from that, which I can use to make even better products in the future.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • Gaston

    Patrick, one more question on Bokashi: You talk about fermenting for a month or so and I seem to gather about six weeks is good. I got a couple things that have been fermenting for about six weeks now and although it’s not producing as much ‘Co2 ‘ as it once was it’s still going. If I am not planning on using it until later in the spring can I just let it go for longer? Is it the case it will just stop when all of the sugar will have been consumed? I don’t imagine there is a ‘too fermented point’ is there?

    Thanks in advance.

    Gaston

    • Patrick

      Hey Gaston,

      The longer the better. It’ll age ‘like a fine wine’. as long as you keep the conditions absolutely anaerobic, it’ll keep for ages, and age nicely. Cool huh?

      Patrick

  • Rodney Galarneau

    You have only posted links for certain subjects please post links for all!

    • Patrick

      Don’t worry I’m getting there 😉

  • Jshen

    Nice info,Patrick! I have a question about the animal feed though..
    How long can you keep the fermented animal feed without drying before it goes inedible?? How long will it last after drying??
    Off topic – Have you tried feeding cockroaches on a duckweed diet?

    I have a abundance source of duckweed, thinking abt how to keep them good by bokashi’ing =P

    Thanks

    • Patrick

      Hey Jshen,

      If you fermented it correctly, it’ll last in the sealed container just about indefinitely. You can also dry it and it’ll last quite awhile also, months if not years.

      Haven’t tried duckweed but I’m keen to try it – what a great resource! Would be an excellent natural fertilizer also. Use the duckweed in the Grow recipe.

      Definitely turn the duckweed into bokashi, that will be excellent for your garden!! I’m jealous.

      Patrick

  • Nik Amin

    Bokashi microbes are the foundation and good quality Bokashi hinges on having the correct microbes. Lactobacillus bacteria are the main workers here, but also other anaerobes like Actinomyces, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus and more.
    How to make the other anaerobes you mentioned above?
    Can I just use LAB?
    Tqvm

    • Patrick

      Hi Nik,
      Yep, just use the LAB. It has some of the others due to the rice wash step you used to make it. As far as specific recipes to get those, still in development.
      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • og

    Why do you suggest drying it out of the sunlight? I have been using sunlight drying for months now, would I get better results by doing it shaded? Woul dit be beneficial to add a amino acid powder to the mix?

    • Patrick

      UV rays are pretty tough on microbes, that’s why we recommend doing all this stuff away from direct sunlight. Just a shady area under a tree would be fine, something like that. You would have higher populations of microbes if you dried in the shade, which is preferential. But your sun-dried bokashi still has great nutrients, just missing some of the healthy microbes. You can add amino acid powder to the bokashi mix, no problem. You don’t have to but it wouldn’t hurt, plants would love it.

  • i bokashi’d rice bran with combinations of LAB, fermented plant extract (oregano), and fermented papaya fruit and allowed it to ferment inside a sack. i noticed the fermented rice bran got warmer in temperature, did i made it right?

    • Patrick

      Hey Luvin,

      Hmm that is unusual. Did you add a significant amount of sugar with the ferments and bran? Also, it should be completely anaerobic to guarantee it ferments rather than decomposes aerobically. I would guess it needs one of those two things.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

      • hello Patrick,
        this is what i did with my rice bran bokashi: i mixed 2 tbsp each from LAB, FPE (oregano), and Fermented papaya extract with 1 liter of dechlorinated water from the 1:20 dilution, and used that to wet my rice bran. then i placed the bran inside a sack. i believe it is anaerobic enough since i tied the sack afterwards. there it is when i noticed it warms a little after few minutes. after 2 days i checked it and i noticed some of the top portion of the bran gets clumped up with grayish-whitish seems like molds on it. is this good or bad bokashi? did i do it right? if not, can i make amendments to correct it and not putting things in waste? thanks a lot..

        • Patrick

          Hey Luvin,

          That’s ok, some mold on top isn’t a serious issue as long as it’s not green/black, those aren’t very healthy to breathe in. Those likely formed because the environment wasn’t perfectly sealed initially. That’s ok you should have excellent bokashi bran in any case. I like your use of the FPE’s!

          Cheers,
          Patrick

  • jim triplett

    how is the leachate used? how is it stored for later use?

    • Patrick

      Hi Jim!

      I store mine as is, although I think ideally you would add 1/3 to 1/2 part sugar plus lacto to keep it stable. Then use like any of your natural fertilizers – around 1-2 tbsp/gallon increasing as your plants tolerate it.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • Hi Patrick,
    I am brand new to this & was wondering ( if I read the posts correct) I can bokashi a bucket let it age for a couple of weeks & use it as food for my worm bin.m Is this correct?

    So much to take in & so little time.

    Thanks for the great info and EZ to understand

    Jerry

    • Patrick

      Hey Jerry,

      Glad you’re enjoying the site! Sorry for the late reply, yep for sure, worms (and just about every animal) love fermented food. You can bokashi your scraps and then feed to them no problem. Ideally you would ferment at least 4 weeks, but even 2 is ok anyway.

      cheers,
      Patrick

  • Gaston

    Hi Patrick hope you are having a great summer. It hit us too in the great white North and the gardens are doing great! Two things: I have not cracked the fermented apples open yet but the fermentation lock is seeing a lot of action and thus I cant report just yet on how it worked. Cider maybe ? 🙂 Something else crossed my mind: what are your thoughts about fermenting plants that produce complex hydro carbons , mint is a good example. Do the essential oils contribute to the process and is the end result good for plants?

    Got lots and lots of mint, just curious.

    Thanks in advance

    Gaston

    • Patrick

      Hey Gaston great to hear from you! Yeah can’t wait to see how the apples do, it may be a bit like cider, ha, but it will be awesome for your trees this year!

      Not sure about the hydro carbons from mint.. I know you can ferment mint no problem, though it’s a bit tougher to get it started. And I know if you’re using mint as a pest deterrent spray, they say not to ferment it. If you have a lot of mint I’d use it to make natural pesticide spray(soak overnight then add other goodies like chili FPJ, etc), then I’d compost the rest.

      Let me know how the apples turn out! Should be great for your apple trees.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • hello patrick,
    i need your opinion on this: i bokashi’d my rice bran with the combination of 2Tablespoons LAB, 2 tbsp FPE (oregano), 2 tbsp FFE (banana), 1/3 part molasses into one liter of water and used the solution to wet the bran.. then placed inside a sealed plastic container, however i left some airspace inside. after few days, i noticed a profuse growth of white molds. i knew white molds are great microbes, so i took those clumped rice bran with those white molds and placed into a plastic jar, added equal amount of molasses, sealed the container for 7 days. on the seventh day, i noticed another white molds formed at the top. i then added some water and strained. i thought this is another method to collect the IMO’s (indigenous micro organisms)? so, i tested the liquid solution by sealing it airtight in a plastic bottle for about 15 minutes then slowly opened it, and i heard the “hiss” sound of the escaping gas from the bottle.. i suppose this method of collecting IMO’s is perfect? i found this method is easier compared to the cooked rice-left-under-the-bamboo-tree-style of collecting microbes, because i usually end up with an orange to black colored fungi on the rice..if not, sometimes the rice just dried up with no molds collected..
    i had a wonderful time rediscovering things around.. thank you very much!

    • Patrick

      Hey Luvin,

      Great feedback! What a cool method of making IMO! Yes that should work great, although you might not have as high a diversity of microbes as you would with the BIM method. FOr the BIM method, maybe try checking the rice earlier. Normally white molds colonize first, then orange then black. Try checking the rice each day and see if you can catch it when it has mostly white molds.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

      • hello Patrick,

        yeah, that’s a nice idea, i should have checked my rice earlier. i’ll try it again and will give you updates on how it will work.. 🙂

  • Rodney Galarneau

    Patrick, again thank you for all your hard work. Would you suggest putting leaves with powdery mildew in bokashi?

    • Patrick

      Umm I think I would avoid that actually, I’m not sure if they would survive the fermentation process but best not to test. You can compos them as long as the pile reaches high enough temperatures (around 55 C ideally).

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • Ben

    Hi Patrick,

    Not sure how related but was reading up on coffee pulp fermentation to turn into animal feed (can’t find the link right now but it was in book by Paul Olivier and others). They made mention of two stage fermentation; first with bacteria then with some form of fungi (possibly to reduce caffeine content and other animal unfriendly stuff i suppose). I like the drying aspect of the bokashi to keep longer. Any thoughts on how that coffee pulp double fermentation fits or would fit within the bokashi system?

    Regards,

    Ben

    • Patrick

      Hey Ben,

      haha i’ve since released my article on making bokashi bran from used coffee grounds – they make excellent bran.. you can then feed to roaches, worms, or BSF larva. Bokashi is step 1, then the organisms are step 2.. It’s a great system for turning them into real fast-acting fertilizer.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • ZakriEsau

    Hi Patrick,

    Mixed up 12lbs of wheat bran with lb serum / molasses last night and packed it into two garbage bags as air tight as possible. Today the bags are swollen like a ballon. Is this normal?

    Thanks in advance,

    Zak

  • Zak

    Thanks Patrick,

    I have this site bookmarked . Very enlightening . I am located in the Caribbean . I believe you have similar weather and vegetation where you are located

    • Patrick

      Thanks Zak!

      Yep that sounds about right weather-wise. Hey can you get some people together there that would be interested in a Natural Farming Seminar? I want to visit 🙂

      See you

      • Zak

        Patrick,

        Sounds Great. Are you on skype at all?

  • Barry Hocking

    Hi,

    Don’t forget to have a look at the TUF forums.
    Regards, Barry.

  • Zak

    Hi Patrick,

    Sounds good. Are you on Skype at all?

  • Hi Patrick,
    I really appreciate this site. It’s given me a sense of just how versatile and useful all these bokashi microbes can be.
    I’ve already started using LAB to ferment mixtures of veg from the garden with nuts and sprouted seeds and honey for my own consumption .
    Usually just twelve hrs or so at 30/35 deg C in jars in a tub nestled into an active compost pile. Just long enough to soften the vegetables and give them a little acid tang.
    Then into the fridge and eaten within a few days. Delicious. Feels so much better than eating cooked stuff!

    I have a question about bokashi compost leachate. Due to the amount of tea and coffee pot rinsing there is a lot of liquid in the Kitchen scrap bokashi bucket. After a month or so of fermenting I’m thinking of using the leachate as a spray to treat the deep litter in a goat shed. Do you think this would be effective? What sort of dilution rate?

    Thanks,

    Gordon

  • Pyae Pyae Phyoe Khet

    What’s the shelf life of anaerobic EM bokashi?How long can we keep anaerobic EM bokashi after fermentation period?

    • Patrick

      Hi Pyae Pyae,

      A long time. Like 12+ months if you keep it anaerobic and sealed up tight!

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • Justin

    Hello, I’m really enjoying this site and have quite a few things fermenting on the shelf now. Last year I made some lacto serum and its been in the fridge. I’m trying some different bokashi recipes for fermenting kitchen scraps. I’m making bran, coffee and bran, coffee, and beer mash. Would the beer mash be fine to use alone? Or should I mix it with something?

    Also, I’m wondering about making bokashi from large amounts of restaurant scraps. Would I need a dry inoculated bokashi starter (e.g. bran) or could I just spray the lacto serum all over the scraps and ferment in a 55 gallon drum? Also,would the drum need an airlock?

    Thank you so much for the great website and help!

    • doyle

      Very much interested in your take on this issue ? I also would like to make bokashi with just spraying lacto serum on top of the layers in place of dry inoculated bokashi starter.I always have lacto serum on hand. . Thanks very much for your information. This is a great information site.

  • doyle

    A question in regards to using lacto serum spray in place of dry inoculated bokashi starter dated a year ago does not appear to have been answered. I wonder if anyone could address this ? I thank you in advance for any response. Doyle

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