Stage 1 - Fermentation
Starting a new bucket
You will need:
Airtight bucket (I collect buckets from Booster Juice),
Absorbent - Peat Moss or Sawdust
Something to squish air out of food waste (I recycle produce bags)
Cut up food scraps into one inch pieces - bigger pieces and bones may take a little longer to break down. This is the same as if you were to compost with a traditional compost heap except that you can compost fruit, vegetables, meat, chicken, or fish, bones and dairy.
Sprinkle half a cup of bokashi mix on an absorbent material (peat moss or sawdust work well) in the bottom of the bucket that has a tight fitting lid.
Add food waste and every 2 inches of food waste, sprinkle bokashi mix to cover all food waste (about a small handful).
Compress the food scraps with a plastic bag, plate or potato masher to get any air out, then, cover the bucket with the lid for an airtight bucket. (I use a plastic produce bag and leave it on the food after compressing)
Repeat steps 3 and 4 until your bucket is full
- When bucket is full, leave it out of sunlight to ferment for 2 weeks (can leave it indefinitely). This allows the bokashi to pickle and ferment food scraps in the bucket. It is ideal to have a second Bokashi Bucket to use, then switch and start again. In the winter I have many buckets, that when full I set outside until spring to bury all at once when the ground thaws.
Tips for Stage 1
When you are adding meat, fish, dairy, oils to your Bokashi bucket, use 2x as much Bokashi. These foods break down more slowly, and you will need more Bokashi to hasten the process.
If there is a lot of liquid produced in the bucket, add something to soak it up: bread, paper (nothing with colored inks), or more Bokashi. You can also siphon it out if you wish. Does it smell like pickles? The "pickle" or acid smell can be strong and bother some people, but if that's the smell you have, the procedure is successful. If the odor is really foul, you may have too much liquid in the bucket. Drain the liquid (juice) and add some sugar or molasses to increase the microbial activity.
Shells such as clams are not decomposed in the soil. Crush them, then add to the bucket, and minute levels of calcium, magnesium, and other minerals will be released. Coffee grounds are good for the compost. Egg shells will decompose faster if crushed.
If your bucket has black or blue mold, take it out to your yard and bury it with some extra Bokashi and a little sugar - it will still feed your plants. Then start over.
White mold in your Bokashi composting bucket is a sign it’s working. As long as the mold is white, it's OK. The appearance of white mold is a result of breeding filamentous bacteria in Bokashi. You may also see white mold when you are converting fermented food waste into soil in your "soil factory". No problem.
The color and shape of the Bokashi waste does not change very much. It does not change in an airtight bucket because the food waste is fermented anaerobically. When it is added into the soil, it will transform into "good dirt"
You want to maintain an anaerobic condition as much as possible. Some suggestions:
1. Get an old pan lid that will fit inside your bucket and keep that on top of your food waste, pushing down to reduce oxygen.
2. Put a plastic bag over the food waste inside the bucket, which will help it stay anaerobic as the bucket fills.
3. Break large items into small pieces which will help reduce airflow.
If you need to drain liquid from your bucket there are many things you can do with it. It is fermented liquid and highly nutritious, but very strong. Full strength, you can pour it into your toilet or down a drain to clean and unclog drain pipes; pour it into a pond to clean up algae. To make a spray for flowers or vegetables, dilute it (1tsp to 2 cups water) and use it within a day, because it will turn sour quickly.