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

Experimenting with bokashi

Homemade bokashi starter culture

One of the soil additives that I'm researching this year for my upcoming book is bokashi --- a method of composting food scraps in a sealed five-gallon bucket at high speeds with little or no smell. The jury's still out on whether this is a trendy technique primarily of interest to apartment dwellers, or whether land-based homesteaders should also give it a try. I suspect Soaking newspaper in bokashi culturethat after reading the book and doing a few experiments of my own, I'll be far more loquacious about my feelings on the topic.

In the meantime, I followed some internet instructions to make a starter culture out of one cup of whey drained from plain yogurt, one cup of molasses, and six cups of warm water. Soaking newspaper in this mixture, letting the excess water drain off, then sealing the wet newspaper in a ziplock bag to ferment on top of the fridge for two weeks is supposed to create a bokashi-like starter culture (although author Adam Footer believes that this culture isn't as high quality as the store-bought cultures some use). Mark's trying to talk me into buying some of the official starter culture too as a side-by-side comparison, which does sound like a useful way to dip into the advance from my publisher.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear from you. Have you tried bokashi? What did you feel were the pros and cons of the composting technique?

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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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Hi Anna, I have not tried bokashi yet, but have gotten loads of info about it from this guy:

He seems to be an expert on it. I can't wait to hear about your results, and to buy the new book!

Thanks for all your good work, Terry

Comment by Terry Sat Feb 28 09:37:36 2015
follow--forgot to hit the "email replies" button
Comment by Terry Sat Feb 28 09:42:22 2015
Hello Anna, I have used Bokashi for years now and am very content. When I'm out of powder and forgot to order on time, I use the residue from the bottom to put over the top. Works good for me, for a while. After a couple of times it seems to get weaker though. I asked the manufacturer about this. He explains that in re using the residue, some stronger bacteries will win from the weaker ones, and the culture will become less diverse after soms time. Sounds logical. So now I use alternately powder and my own residue. And now I'll try your experiment with the newspapers and see how that goes! Thanks fot sharing! Love, Clarien from Holland
Comment by Clarien Sat Feb 28 17:10:34 2015
I suspect that there would be some parallels between natural pickling, starting a new batch old pickle juice and pickling with whey. With pickling the best is starting a new batch, assuming you have good bacteria in your environment.
Comment by Milton Sun Mar 8 07:06:37 2015

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