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  • Naomi Stephens | Permaculture Designer

The complete guide to turning your food scraps into compost using the Japanese bokashi method.

Updated: May 12, 2022

If you follow this blog, you'll know that I've been experimenting in my garden and have successfully turned my food waste into usable compost in my small apartment.

I'll show you how I did this because it will be of great benefit to the many of us who want to compost despite living in big cities with limited outdoor space.

A report completed by WRAP has shown that in the UK, we throw out an average of 24 meals a month. This works out to be one-fifth of what we buy.

I bought a worm farm so that I could have zero waste. I quickly realized that the worms couldn't eat all my waste, it was just too much for them.

There are also things they don't want to eat such as acidic foods like oranges and pungent foods like onions. I still wanted to recycle that kind of food so I opted for the bokashi composting method.

I didn't know that I was going to be able to turn it into soil, to begin with. I thought I could only do that if I had an actual garden. I soon found that a used potato growing bag did just fine and a bin bag will work just as well.

I'm meeting the permaculture aim of getting more yield out of food scraps and you can too.

The bokashi method is a fantastic way of turning something that we would normally always throw in the bin, into being something of real value for us and that is enriched compost ready for planting.

It's exciting to be able to close the loop on the cycle of buying or growing food and turning it back into food, with the bokashi composting method.

Step 1

Purchase a bokashi bin complete set.

  • You'll need the bokashi bin which is an airtight container with a tap and inner sieve to separate food from the liquid.

  • The bokashi comes with a cup.

  • A scoop.

  • the bokashi bran.

This is my bokashi set:

Click here or below to see the recommended bokashi bin to buy on Amazon:

Step 2

  • Set aside some food scraps!

Step 3 - Adding scraps to the bin

The first time you begin to fill up your bokashi bin,

  • Add about 2 handfuls of scraps.

  • Then a scoop of bokashi bran.

  • Continue to layer it like this every time you add food scraps

  • Make sure the top layer is always a covering of bokashi bran - see below

Step 4

When your bokashi bin is complete, let your bokashi bin sit for at least 2 weeks on its own before moving to the next step.

Note that the bokashi bin doesn't have to be at the top. You can decide when you want to stop.

If you have a big family and you manage to fill up your bokashi bin in just a couple of weeks, then it hasn't had enough time to ferment and let the microbes do the work. Leave it to sit for probably a month, as it's crucial for it to ferment for as long as possible before moving on to the next step.

The fermentation process must be complete in the bin before it goes into the soil. Otherwise, aerobic bacteria (bacteria that thrive with oxygen) will takeover, you need the anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that love a de-oxygenated environment i.e the bokashi bran) to dominate.

In my case, it was just me and so, the bin filled up very slowly. It took me 2 - 3 months to fill it up. There was a lot of fermentation going on by the time I was ready to move on to the next step.

Step 5

You will need:

  • a potato bag or bin bag

  • leftover soil

  • Bokashi mix

  • Have about 2 parts used soil to 1 part bokashi mix

Start with a layer of used soil and then add some bokashi. Add some more used soil and add bokashi mix on top. Keep layering and let the very top be used soil. Try to smother the bokashi mix as much as possible.

Note that this part is going to smell, so, it's best to do this outside. If you don't have a garden, your front yard, right next to the bins should do it or a balcony is perfect. The smell went away after about a couple of weeks with mine.

I did mine in a relatively pest-free area - on my balcony. I haven't had the chance to experiment in areas where there could be rodents. So please let me know how this worked for you.

Step 6

Leave your bag to sit for 3 months.

Watch my video on youtube here:


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