Bokashi composting is not your normal composting. If you can’t find answers to your questions please drop us a note.

What is "bokashi"?
bokashi_composting
"Bokashi" means "fermented organic matter" in Japanese. Developed in the 1980s, bokashi composting is a fermentation method. Food waste is added to air tight bins, layered with "Earth Bokashi" and the bin closed. Beneficial microbes in the Earth Bokashi mix then activate and start a fermentation process. These microbes stop the food waste from rotting and smelling.

After fermentation, contents can be composted with garden waste, dug directly into your soil, or fed to composting worms.

Please note that bin contents are essentially preserved and will only break down once the contents have been processed outside of the bin.
My food waste is not composting in the bin?
Because contents are fermented they do not turn into compost in your bin. Only when contents are added to your compost heap, dug into soil, or fed to composting worms will the contents turn into compost.

Fermentation is an ancient food preservation technique - think sauerkraut or kimchi - as is the bokashi composting method.

Fermented contents of the bin are populated by beneficial microbes and will add valuable life to your soil and also, because fermentation is essentially a pre-digestion method, turn back to soil very quickly (just as our bodies process fermented food much more easily than other cooked or raw food.
This sounds terribly scientific, is the bokashi system easy to use?
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Nothing could be easier. Just follow three very basic rules:

  • Only add food waste to the bin.
  • Always add Earth Bokashi after adding food waste to the bin.
  • Always keep the bin closed after adding food waste and bokashi. Also make sure that the tap is closed.

Remember that all food waste can be added to the bin. So you don't have to worry about what you can or can't put into the bin. Everything goes!

Just follow the instructions and you'll be fine. The instructions, above, are also printed on Earth Probiotic's bin for easy reference.
What's the tap for?
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The fermentation process generates a leachate. The strainer in the bin separates the leachate from the food waste. The tap allows you to drain off this leachate.

The leachate, or "bokashi juice", is a wonderful and powerful product. You can use it as a liquid fertiliser or as a drain cleaner.
I'm struggling to insert the tap into my bokashi bucket. What do I do?
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This is a simple and easy process and requires no glue or sealant.

Simply push the tap into the hole on the bucket. When you hear a “click” it’s inserted properly and will be leak proof.

If you’re struggling to insert the tap simply leave the bucket in the sun for about 10 minutes. This will soften the plastic and the tap can then be pushed in with ease.
What do I do with the contents of my Earth Bokashi bin?
Bokashi composting is a two step process. Once the food waste is fermented you can do the following:

  1. Add it to your compost heap. Take the contents and put it into the middle of your compost heap. Spread it out a little in order to make it thinner. Then cover with garden waste. The microbes in the bokashi fermented food waste will accelerate your heap.
  2. Trench it directly into your soil. This is an easy way. Simply bury it around the drip line of your trees. Or dig a trench, add it to the trench and mix with some of the soil, cover and leave. The soil microbes and earthworms will process this into a rich nutrient rich soil.
  3. Feed it to your composting earthworms. Be careful as the worms need to be habituated to the acidic environment. Add some to the corners of your bin. The earthworms will move away but after a few days will be feasting! Then add to another corner. And so on. Best is to pre-compost it and then add it to your bin.
Where should I store the bin?
While you're filling the bin keep it in your kitchen. It doesn't smell and this is a convenient place to keep it while you're busy cooking and cleaning up.

Once the bin full store it in your garage or a store room for two weeks (this is necessary to complete the process and ensure that the last layer of food waste is properly fermented before it is composted).

Do not store in direct sunlight. It will get too hot and kill the microbes. These need to be kept alive to keep the process going and keep the bad bacteria from growing in the bin.
How many Earth Bokashi bins do I need?
You need a minimum of two bins. Why? Once the first bin is full it needs to stand for two weeks to finish fermentation. During this time you can then start filling your second bin.

Each bin will hold around 18kg of food waste. If you generate more than this you can always purchase an additional bin.

Or if, like us, you don't run your composting activity like clock work, then you might need a couple of extra bins.
I forgot to add Earth Bokashi to my bin. Will my waste go bad?
Your nose is the best indicator to check all is well in your bucket. If it smells rancid then add two handfuls of Bokashi to try and reverse the process.
If the bucket continues to smell bad then you will have to get rid of it by digging a hole and adding the bucket contents to it. Mix with soil, add another handful of Bokashi bran and cover with the rest of soil. If you have nowhere to ‘bury’ it then you have to dispose of it in your weekly refuse bin.
Will the contents of my Earth Bokashi bin accelerate my compost heap?

Yes, the bokashi bran is rich in beneficial microbes which have grown on and in your food waste.
When you add the contents to your compost heap you are adding millions of beneficial microbes into your compost heap (as well as micronutrients and organic matter from your kitchen). These bacterial combine with naturally occurring bacteria and fungi and work together to accelerate your composting activity.

Will the contents smell bad? After all this is food waste we're talking about!
The food waste ferments and doesn't rot. It is usually rotting that causes bad smells. You will have a slight fermentation odour from the bin. Our newly formulated Earth Bokashi has been developed to specifically reduce the fermentation odour. This is why it is pretty easy, and convenient, to keep the Earth Bokashi bin in your kitchen.
Help! There is mould in my bucket.
beneficial mould in your bokashi bin
White mould is good. The white mould is a beneficial fungus which helps suppress pathogens. If you have white mould it shows that your fermentation is going well. When added to soil this beneficial fungus helps with water retention and helps bind soil together.

Black/blue/green mould is bad. It shows that the fermentation has not worked properly. This is a rare occurrence and is the result of the bin not being closed properly (not anaerobic), not enough bokashi has been used, and/or rotten food has been added to the bin.
Will the contents smell bad? After all this is food waste we're talking about!
The food waste ferments and doesn't rot. It is usually rotting that causes bad smells. You will have a slight fermentation odour from the bin. Our newly formulated Earth Bokashi has been developed to specifically reduce the fermentation odour. This is why it is pretty easy, and convenient, to keep the Earth Bokashi bin in your kitchen.
How do I use the "Bokashi Juice"?
what to do with your bokashi juice
The liquid removed is loaded with microbes and nutrients and makes an extremely effective natural fertiliser.

Bokashi juice is acidic and should be diluted as follows:

1:100 for lawns and veggies. 1:300 for gardens and pot plants. 1:1000 for any sensitive plants.

DO NOT USE THE BOKASHI JUICE TO FERTILISE FYNBOS.

Use the juice within 24 hours as it contains living bacteria, after this period the Bokashi juice loses its effectiveness and will go off.

Use undiluted and pour down your drains. It will help keep the drains clean and odour free. It is very useful in preventing sludge from building up and blocking drains and is a good way to minimise problems in your septic system.
I'm not getting any bokashi juice from my bin.
The amount of juice will depend on the moisture content of the food you add. For instance, high moisture fruit such as watermelon will produce more juice than old toast.
In winter your digester will produce less liquid than summer.

This is for two reasons: (a) winter food tends to be starchier and summer food contains more juicy fruits and veggies which have higher moisture content, (b) the cold of winter makes the microbes less active than the warmth of summer.
What can I add to my Earth Bokashi bin? What can't I add?
You can add all cooked and uncooked food to the bin. This includes meat, small bones, sea food, citrus, coffee grounds, yoghurt, ice cream, dairy, cheese rinds.

Basically anything that comes from an animal or a plant.

You can even add paper napkins as long as they have not been used to wipe up chemicals.

You should not add the following:

  • Tea bags. These are sealed with a plastic heat proof glue. Loose tea is fine. Even organic labelled tea bags are sealed with this plastic glue.
  • Too much liquid such as milk, water, tea or coffee.
  • Rotten food. If it smells rotten it is! Rotten food contains massive populations of bad bacteria which can out compete the good microbes in the bin.
  • Black/Green/Purple mouldy food. These moulds are bad and can be pathogenic. White mould is fine and is beneficial.
I'm going on holiday, what should I do with my bin?
Lucky you! We're envious!

There's no need to worry. Just add a layer of Earth Bokashi to the top layer and close the bin. That's it.

The contents will continue fermenting, won't rot or go off.

When you're back from holiday just continue as before.

Why not take your bin with you? We do this when we go camping or stay in self-catering cottages. Then we bring it back home with us. We just can't throw the stuff away. And why waste those wonderful nutrients?
Where can I buy an Earth Bokashi kit or replenish my Earth Bokashi?
Check out our outlet list here.

Yuppie Chef, Takealot and Faithful to Nature also stock our Earth Bokashi kits. You can also purchase from bokashishop.co.za if you are not near a convenient retailer.
What's the difference between Earth Bokashi and other bokashi?
"Bokashi" can be made from many different carriers. All that is needed is a mix of beneficial micro-organisms and a carrier. A quick search on Youtube will show that bokashi can be made from newspaper scraps, wheat bran (the convention in South Africa), rice husks (common in South East Asia), saw dust/shavings, brewing malt, etc.

Our philosophy is that we need to source as much of our ingredient mix locally. This not only reduces our carbon footprint but also reduces waste. It also gives us control over what is going into our mix - we have direct knowledge and familiarity with everyone in our supply chain.

Earth Bokashi Other bokashi
Indigenous microbes Imported microbes
<10% wheat bran 100% wheat bran
C:N balanced composting mix Not part of formula
Little to no fermentation odour Mild to strong fermentation odour
Categorised microbes Uncategorised microbes

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