The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Bokashi conclusions

Bokashi resultsI'm finally ready to pass judgment on this year's bokashi experiment. To recap, bokashi is a method of pre-decaying food scraps in an airtight container with the help of a microbial starter before applying that proto-compost to the soil. I tried three different versions this spring --- bokashi using a storebought starter, bokashi using a homemade (lactofermented) starter, and a control bucket with no starter.

It takes us about a month for us to fill a five-gallon bucket with food scraps during the non-preserving season. So I had to space my experiments out, applying the control to poor pasture soil March 17, digging in the lactofermented scraps on May 8, and the traditional bokashi on June 6. The photos to the left show that digging up those three patches in the middle of August resulted in a time-lapse image of decomposition, suggesting that neither type of bokashi sped up decomposition much, if at all.

Would I recommend bokashi to anyone? Well, the air-tight buckets were a nice way to consolidate lots of foods scraps, and the bokashi starter did cut down on bad odors when opening the bucket...although the starter became much less effective once the true heat of summer hit. But I don't feel like the method is really worth the expense unless you live in an air-conditioned apartment and have to hoard your scraps for a long time before use. Instead, our food scraps have been hitting the outside compost pile this summer, where I think we'll get just as much fertility with much less work (and no outlay of cash). It looks like bokashi isn't for us.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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