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In-garden bokashi composting

Compost bucket

Compost barrelA tip for city dwellers needing to compost in limited space:  I highly recommend 5 gallon pails with gamma seal lids, bokashi dust on the collect compost, wait two weeks to a month and then bury it in your garden beds.  Or, if you have an abundance like I do, cut off the bottom of a 55 gallon drum (skillsaw, sawzall or even a hand saw), dig a nice deep hole, and stick the drum in about 1/3 of the depth of the drum.  The top lid can be locked or sealed with the metal ring that comes with a proper 55 gallon drum.  When you've filled it to soil level, remove bin to next spot,  bury with a couple of reserved buckets of soil.  I highly recommend planting squash and corn.

Bokashi pressure plate

In-garden compostI've a tiny garden on the front and side of my home, 8 people's worth of compost on a regular basis and not enough space for a covered, screened compost pile as required by city regulations.  This works even in our zone 4 winters.  It costs the "input" of the bokashi mix but I see that as a fair trade-off for composting every type of kitchen scrap produced.  I pre-dig my raised garden beds in the fall, reserve the soil in 5 gallon pails to our porch, and fill with compost and cover over throughout the winter.  I'll plant most anything but carrots in this. 

As for varmits, danged, varmits.  We have none interested in our outdoor bins.  We also are the only ones in the neighborhood without a chewed through garbage cart.  Remember, we're in the city and squirrels and rabbits and pets are what we get the most, minus the odd opossum (different story there).  The squirrels don't smell the "food" in our garbage anymore and we have a very clean garbage cart now.  The slickness of the bokashi system in the city versus the worm tower, which I tried and failed with, is that it is an anaerobic process to start and so if it stays anaerobic just a bit longer till you pull the bin off and cover with soil, there isn't a problem with smell.  The other nice piece is it allows us to compost an enormous amount, easily two 5 gallon pails a month, on-site, through frozen ground winters while still meeting city code requirements.

This is not what I'd do if I had 10 acres and no city restrictions.  But for our circumstances I'd say it's very useful and others may have similar circumstances.

Editor's note: The author of this tip chose to remain anonymous, but you can read more about another homesteader's experience with bokashi here.



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Squirrels, the cute rats.
Comment by Gerry Thu Dec 6 14:30:21 2012

I live in a suburb on less than 5000sq ft in zone 6b south of Boston. I have done container gardening for a few year, and each year I add about 25 -50% of “garden space”. I have saved the soil from the containers for two years. This year I am using trash barrels. I also started bokashi this year, and I am adding layers of old soil, bokashi, straw, fresh stall bedding, shredded cardboard, and other random yard wastes.

After the winter I will sift the barrel contents, then add some not so composted bovine/equine contributions. At the dump I might be able to salvage some wood ash from the dumpster it is placed in. I hope that this, the compost teas, and trace minerals I plan to add will improve next years yields.

Comment by Gerry Thu Dec 6 14:50:44 2012
What if I just did basically the same method, but without the "bokashi" - i.e bottomless bucket in the ground with heavy lid near future garden bed. Add kitchen scraps all winter until it's 3/4 full, remove bucket and cover with soil when 3/4 full. Do you think this would work without the additive? Maybe with a little liquid gold added once in a while???
Comment by Jake Olson Fri Dec 7 08:14:22 2012
Jake --- Without the bokashi, the method is very much like worm towers, which work for some people but seem to attract pest animals for others. However, I suspect you could delete the smell (and thus the pest animals) with something as simple (and cheap) as sawdust instead of using bokashi.
Comment by anna Fri Dec 7 09:13:31 2012