Friday, February 03, 2006

Bokashi


Now, here's something else again. Is anybody into Bokashi? I quote here from the Real Goods catalog:

"Now it's easy to discard meat, fish, dairy and even bones right in your kitchen without the requirements of turning it like outdoor compost and without creating unpleasant smells. Developed in Japan, the All Food Recycling Compost Kit quickly and odorlessly prepares your organic waste into a high-grade soil conditioner through the use of effective microbes or 'bokashi', a Japanese word meaning 'fermented organic matter.'

Similar to the process used to make wine, this system relies on fermentation to decompose the matter rather than putrefaction, so no putrid odor is produced. In about 10 days, nutrient-rich matter is produced that you bury in the garden to help improve physical, chemical and biological environments in the dirt. "

This stuff is a trip. As I understand it, the bokashi is a mixture of water, molasses, wheat bran, and EM, or Efficient Microorganisms. (Says my husband: "Isn't that beer?")

You keep the bin tightly sealed (except when you're adding more kitchen scraps and bokashi), and you can include all the stuff you can't put in a worm bin--meat, dairy, and so forth. I do wish I'd taken enough chemistry to say that I understood the difference between fermentation and decomposition and what the implications would be soil-dwelling microbes, but alas, I must take their word for it. As it is, I just don't know how to evaluate a statement like,

"The microorganisms in EM are known to produce bioactive substances, vitamins, hormones, enzymes, amino acids, and antibiotics, which enrich and detoxify the soil" or,

"The purple photosynthetic microbes which are present at enhanced levels in this formula have powerful detoxifying, antioxidative and anti-entropic properties and can reduce levels of certain toxins, toxic gases, many odors, and can help to re-establish a wide range of beneficial microbes again in a polluted or unbalanced environment."

So what does this stuff look like? One website says: "Bokashi Compost will look different to other compost that has decayed. As the food waste does not breakdown or decompose while it is in the bucket, much of its original physical property will remain and it will have a pickled appearance. Complete breakdown of waste will occur a few weeks after it has been transferred to the soil. " Yum. (Full instructions can be found here at Bokashi Composting Australia.)

It's the burying it in the garden step that trips me up. Like, where in my garden am I going to dig a big hole every 10 days? And do I plant right on top of it, or wait, or what? Why can't we just have a compost pile again? Because it won't break down the meat and dairy? So pickled meat and dairy buried in the garden is good because...

I'm confused, but really interested. I just went through a little kombucha phase that's about to end with the critter getting tossed on the compost pile; you can only imagine my husband's relief that I'll be replacing it with bokashi.

You can find out more about the various products here, but do let me know if you've tried this or know somebody who has.

Real Goods Catalog - Indoor Home

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