An experiment in bokashi, part 2

Interesting. It seems that “bokashi” is one of the more popular searches that brings people to this blog, so I figured I should update on how my bokashi experience is going. Last time, I had just finished with my first bucket of bokashi. I do have more going. As far as that goes, I have learned that adding a piece of cardboard to the container to cover the compost makes a huge difference in the amount of white mold you’ll see. Between that and being sure to drain the compost tea regularly, smell hasn’t been nearly as much of an issue when I open it to add more scraps. I’ll post more about that when this batch is ready to be done cooking.

I was left with the problem of what to do with the pickled compost, since I live in an apartment with no outdoor space to plant. I do have the option at some point of bringing some of it to a friend’s to add to an outdoor compost pile, but I’d like to be able to use some of it myself. So I came up with an idea, that may or may not be useful. The verdict is still out, but I’ll show you what’s happening so far.

My idea was to get a plastic bin with a cover, some unfertilized potting soil, and bury my bokashi in the comfort of my own studio apartment. I can already see that this won’t work for all of the pickled compost I accumulate, because of space limitations. As far as I can tell, it will allow me to use some of it, and the rest can go to a friend’s.

This is what it looked like when I opened it up, about a month later:

food and dirt

I had a take-out container from Whole Foods that was compostable, so I ripped it up and added it to the top. There’s a bit of white mold on top as well.

This is what happened to the pickled compost that’s buried about halfway into the container:

food and dirt

It’s a completely different composition that what it was when I transfered it into the container. Interesting.

I ended up just taking some of the soil from the top (sans the take out container, which hadn’t been in there very long) and around the bokashi, mixing the rest up, and adding more unfertilized potting soil to the top.

All better:

food and dirt

I’ve found that I have absolutely no problem with odor coming from the bin, except when digging up the bokashi, which was again just the sweet/sour smell, not a rotting smell.

I put the now (hopefully) fertilized soil into a window planter, and let it sit for over a week (I got too busy to deal with it). Today, I added more water to the soil as it had dried out, and planted some basil, parsley and scallion seeds. I have no idea if scallions will work in a container, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try.

I’ll post an update when and if the seeds start to sprout!

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8 Responses to An experiment in bokashi, part 2

  1. Al says:

    Great job! The white mold is okay.

    It looks like you did the same thing that a bokashi supplier in the UK recommends:

    Next time, maybe adding some compost from someone’s garden including some worms will speed things up a bit.

    With this success, might want to submit your blog post to this writer in L.A.:

    Successful apartment composting stories wanted

    Cheers and best wishes,


  2. Jodie says:

    Thanks for the links!

  3. Wormcity says:

    interesting post, it is amazing how quickly the bokashi composts down once out in the air.
    We feed large quantities of it to our worms and they love it.
    It is handy to see how people who live in apartments deal with their bokashi waste.
    Interesting post about the cardboard on top – I will have to give that a go

    Good Luck

  4. bornfamous says:

    Thanks so much for posting this. I bought a bokashi bucket without figuring out what to do with it once it’s full… and now it’s almost there. I’m going to try your bin method of composting to re-fertilize my used potting soil. Do you let the bucket sit for a few weeks, as recommended, or do you just dump it into the bin of soil?

  5. Jodie says:

    I have let it sit for 2 weeks or so before dumping it in. I suppose that you could put it right in, but by letting it sit, you’re letting more of the extra liquid drain off. It will continue to produce moisture anyway (watch out when you take the lid off- it collects there. My feet have gotten wet that way!), but you’d end up with more if you don’t let it sit. I really don’t think it’s going to hurt anything in the long run. In the meantime, I toss all my scraps into a bag bag and freeze or refrigerate them until the bucket is free again.

  6. bornfamous says:

    Thanks Jodie, great idea about freezing scraps. I was going to set up a second bucket — and may still, since I don’t have much room in the fridge or freezer. Do you cover the bin of soil while it’s ‘cooking’?

  7. Jodie says:

    Yes- definitely cover it. You’ll have a strong odor if you don’t, plus covering it preserves the anaerobic environment. Others have suggested adding worms- I have not, because I keep it anaerobic (worms need ventilation). The soil will also grow that white mold when covered, but it’s fine- just mix it right back into the soil. It’s harmless!

  8. Pamela says:

    Your experiment is interesting and has brought quite good results. Thanks for the information on Bokashi

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