We’re often told not to compost meat and dairy. Pathogens are likely to form, the smell can be atrocious, and it can attract new, unwanted critters to your pile. End of story, right? Not quite. Enter Bokashi, a unique and effective Japanese method of composting.
What is it?
Bokashi can be simply defined as intensive, anaerobic composting. Essentially, this means waste is placed in an air tight container where a bran that has been inoculated with effective microorganisms (EM) works at breaking down organic matter. The process of usually quick – sometimes providing nutrient-rich soil in as little as two weeks to a month, depending on the size of the composter.
The Bokashi bran is made up of a number of ingredients, including water, wheat bran, molasses, and the active ingredient of EMs.
Where did it come from?
Quick answer: Asian countries, including Korea. It is often attributed to Japan, specifically because Dr. Teuro Higa, a professor at University of Ryukyus, Okinawa, Japan, brought awareness to the most efficient and effective composition of microbes needed for composting purposes.
When was it developed?
Dr. Higa make his famous discovery back in 1982, but the history is actually much richer.
While it’s hard to pin down an exact date of inception, Hoon Park and Michael DuPonte from the University of Hawaii canvass some of the roots of Bokashi and the broader practice of collecting microorganisms. As they point out, for centuries “deliberate collection and culturing of naturally occurring soil microorganisms has been a common agricultural practice.” And it appears that practice is gaining popularity here in the US.
Demands from consumers combined with the growing awareness of environmental protection has led to a shift in US agriculture, one that is characterized by a move away from chemically intensive soil amendments toward more biological, natural methods.
(Thanks to Composter Connection for the helpful direction in finding the history of Bokashi!)
So why use it?
As stated above, you’ll be using an airtight container. Not only is that important for the breakdown process, but it’s helps bring some other major benefits to this practice: no smell, no insects, and no nutrient loss!
Bokashi is also a great compost idea for people indoors. It’s a smaller system, so you can place your compost bin right next to the trash and not even notice it. Live in a high rise apartment or somewhere with no backyard? No problem. You can still compost and use the soil for your indoor plants and dwarf fruit trees!
Finally, it’s easy. There’s no need to constantly churn your compost, spend time defending against vermin, and get your hands dirty. It’s a quick, simple, and effective process!