Bokashi, Japanese for “shading off‘ or “gradation”, uses a mix of microorganisms predigest food waste before composting it. Japanese farmers centuries ago covered food waste with rich, local soil that contained microorganisms that fermented the waste which they then buried after a few weeks. Bokashi was popularized by Dr. Teuro Higa, a professor at University of Ryukyus, Okinawa, Japan, in the early 1980’s.

Most people buy Effective Microorganisms (EM1), which contains the necessary microorganisms. Alternately newspaper fermented in a lactobacillus culture can be used. I created my own bokashi-inspired incoulant that I grown on spent coffee grounds.

In general bokashi starter (EM1) consists of Lactic acid bacteria, photosynthetic bacteria, yeasts, actinomycetes and fermenting fungi.

I moisten spent coffee grounds collected from local coffee houses with a tablespoon of molasses/gallon of water. I mix in incolated coffee grounds as a starter and let it sit for 2 weeks in a covered container filled to the top to avoid air. Bokashi is an anaerobic process.

By inoculating coffee grounds they begin to break down quickly. This preps them for addition to a compost pile bringing the microorganisms along with.

In addition to hastening the composting process, layering food waste in bokashi starter allows citrus peels to be composted. Usually their inclusion is minimal because of the oil content. While our household eats minimal amounts of fish and chicken many use bokashi to pre-digest meat waste before adding it to their compost pile. YMMV

This is a good overview of DIY bokashi. There are many ways to make your own bokashi starter. Some use rice water and newspaper. Some go as far as making their own incubator.

#bokashi #composting #EM1