Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Easy Container Gardening with Bokashi Compost

Last year, I blogged about bokashi, an ancient Japanese, two step method of composting. Today, I'll explain in greater detail exactly how you can incorporate bokashi into your container gardening.

Let's start with mealtime. We try our best to reduce waste when cooking and eating, but sometimes it's hard to use everything without a pet goat or pig. Fortunately with bokashi you can turn any organic matter into compost: vegetable scraps, dairy, meat, and bones. Put scraps into a container specifically made for bokashi. (It's airtight and has a spout.) Cover the scraps with a handful of a special bran / microbial starter. Repeat every time you have food scraps until the container is full.

(Here's a convenient link to buy a bokashi starter kit on Amazon if you need one.)

Once the container is full, leave it alone for 2 weeks. During this period, it will ferment. The only thing you have to do is drain the liquid that's created every day. We usually just pour the liquid into our garden. It's really nourishing for plants. It's also good for houseplants and cleaning drains but it smells disgusting, so I'd rather only use it outdoors.

When two weeks a have passed you can then add the bokashi to soil. The awesome thing about bokashi is it can transform any dirt into high quality soil. As long as you use dirt that doesn't contain lead or other toxic contaminants, you're good.

Begin by emptying the contents of the bokashi bucket into a container filled with dirt. Mix it all together. At this point you have two choices.

Option 1 is what I believe Bryan McGrath, a bokashi expert, recommended: Take another container that has holes drainage holes. (You can drill holes into the bottom of a bucket.) // Add two or three inches of dirt. // Add the bokashi soil mix, filling up with about 1/3 of the container. // Cover with two inches of dirt. // Cover that with newspaper or straw. // Leave everything alone to ferment for two weeks. // Once two weeks have passed you can add a little more dirt and plant directly into the container. // Watch Bryan's YouTube video to see this in action and hear it from his mouth.

Option 2 is what my boyfriend and I did because we didn't mutually agree on what the expert actually said: Just leave everything alone in the mixing container for two weeks. // Expect maggots (Ew!) // Sandwich enriched soil with potting soil in a plant container. // Plant some seeds or baby plants.

Both methods work to create quality soil for happy plants. You don't have to be a gardening wiz to make this work. Plants want to survive and grow. You just have to give them a hand by getting started!

Do you compost? What method do you use? If you use bokashi, does the smell bother you too? Got any bokashi tips to share?

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