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Bokashi / Composting

5 Ideas on How to Use Bokashi in the Garden

If you’re looking for a simple, eco-friendly, home-based way to improve your garden soil; bokashi is a great solution! To make it easy for all beginner gardeners, this article provides information and advice on how to use bokashi in the garden.

Bokashi composting is a method that allows you to conveniently compost your food scraps indoors. Sounds interesting, right? Bokashi composting is a clean, trouble-free way to reduce waste while creating nutrient-rich compost for plants right from your kitchen. Read on to learn more about how to use bokashi compost for truly organic gardening!

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Understanding Bokashi Composting

The Japanese word ‘Bokashi’ means “fermented organic matter”.  This method of composting involves layering kitchen scraps (vegetables, dairy, meat, and fruits) with bokashi bran inside a bokashi bin.  

When looking at bokashi vs compost, bokashi composting is an ‘anaerobic’ fermentation process which means the microbes thrive in the absence of air. This is why it is done in a sealed container. The end result is a pre-compost that is then buried in the garden and turns into incredibly nutrient-rich soil!

5 Ideas for How to Use Bokashi in the Garden

Here are some top ways on how to use bokashi in the garden:

1. Incorporating Bokashi Pre-Compost into the Garden

This traditional method requires no maintenance, browns, or use of a compost bin to process your organic food waste once it is outside. 

Direct Trench Method:

I go into this in more detail later on in this article, but basically this requires digging a trench or multiple holes to bury your bokashi compost. 

Dig trenches or holes approximately 10-20 inches deep in the garden and fill them up with your bokashi pre-compost. Cover with 10 inches of soil and let it sit and decompose for 2-4 weeks before planting in it. 

The bokashi bran microbes combined with the soil microbes and worms, all work together to convert food waste into a nutrient-rich soil. Isn’t amazing how nature works its magic!

Raised bed method:

With the raised bed method there is no digging needed unless the bed is already set up. Simply layer the bokashi compost with soil as you fill up your raised garden bed, or use it to top up the bed and improve soil quality as needed.  

This is a great way to easily integrate your bokashi into the soil and improve soil quality for your plants. 

layer the bokashi compost with soil, fill up raised garden bed, how to use bokashi compost

2. Add to your Compost Bin

Adding bokashi compost to a regular compost bin is an effective way to recycle organic materials while enriching your compost. It’s also handy when you don’t have space in your garden or you’re short on time!

Ensure your compost pile remains well-aerated and maintains the right balance of nitrogen and carbon-rich materials. If possible, try to monitor the pH level of the pile since bokashi composting has an acidic nature. 

Remember that bokashi compost is expected to decompose and merge with the remainder of the compost in a matter of weeks so it’s incredibly beneficial for a compost bin!

This method is excellent for reviving a sluggish compost pile, especially during cold winters when composting can be challenging. Plus, adding bokashi to a compost bin gives you more time if you’re not needing it right away.

recycle organic materials, adding bokashi to a compost bin

3. Make a Soil Factory

If you live in an apartment and still want nutrient-rich bokashi compost for your indoor plants, you can by making a soil factory! 

Here’s what you can do to use bokashi in an apartment setting:

Invest in a large airtight trash bin and add soil bag to the bottom. When your bokashi bin is full, add it to the trash bin and cover with another soil layer (just like if you were adding it to your garden). Then let the microbes do their work!

In a few weeks, you’ll have nutrient-rich compost ready to be added to your pots. You’ll find everything you need to know about apartment gardening in my article gardening in an apartment

A soil factory is an amazing place to deposit your bokashi pre-compost year-round.
During winter months, the frozen and hard ground can make it difficult to dig a hole for burying pre-compost. So, I rely on my soil factory for managing my bokashi pre-compost. 

You’re welcome to layer extra bins of bokashi pre-compost on top of one another in your soil factory until it’s full.

4. Store it

Ultimately, if you’re unable to find a way to use your full bokashi bin right away it can be kept in the bokashi bin for a little while. 

The pre-compost won’t deteriorate if it remains in your kitchen composter for another week or even longer. After completion of the fermentation process, the microbes remain dormant until they are added to the soil. 

5. Donate 

No space in your garden for Bokashi compost, no worries! Consider giving it to a local gardener or a community garden. You could also donate to a compost pickup programme or advertise on Craigs List or a community social media page.

Even if you’re not able to use the bokashi compost, you’ll still benefit from recycling your food waste and keeping it from landfill. Bokashi composting can be a great activity to do with the family and a community garden, providing an opportunity for collaboration and learning about how to use bokashi in the garden. 

fresh vegetables growing in the garden, garden for Bokashi compost, community garden

Using Bokashi Compost Tea in the Garden   

Also known as bokashi leachate or juice, bokashi tea is a nutrient-rich liquid produced as a byproduct of the bokashi composting process. Bokashi liquid for plants contains beneficial enzymes, microorganisms and nutrients that are incredibly nourishing for plants. 

Dilute bokashi tea with water for direct application, usually at a ratio of 1:100 (bokashi liquid: water). The diluted liquid is a potent and natural fertilizer for plants. 

Bokashi liquid for plants helps control soil-borne pathogens and pests, reducing the need for chemical pesticides. It also boosts beneficial microorganisms in the soil. 

Frequent application of bokashi tea can enhance plant resilience and overall garden vitality.

Preparing Your Garden for Bokashi Application

If you want to make the most of your bokashi compost and improve your garden soil, here’s what you need to do:

1. Select the right spot

Before starting the process, decide on a spot in your garden where you intend to mix or bury the fermented waste. Since Bokashi is an anaerobic process, avoid spots that are prone to getting waterlogged or are near sensitive plant roots.

It’s also important to choose a spot where the contents won’t touch the roots of existing plants (as it is very acidic and can burn the roots).

2. Pre-dig the Trench

The next step is to pre-dig your holes or trench to put your bokashi compost into. 

As a rule of thumb, dig the hole as deep as your bokashi bin and twice as long as the height.

Add the fermented material and mix through with soil, leaving 10 – 20 inches (25-50cm) of soil to cover the top.

Due to its high acidity, after burying the bokashi compost, it’s best to avoid planting directly on those areas for about 2 weeks. This allows the bokashi to fully decompose and enrich the soil.

pre-dig your holes or trench to put your bokashi compost, dig the hole as deep as your bokashi bin

4 Benefits of Using Bokashi in the Garden

I’ve mentioned many ways on how to use bokashi compost and the many benefits of bokashi for the garden can’t be ignored. 

1. Recycles Kitchen Waste

Starting with all the kitchen waste, Bokashi is an efficient waste recycling method that reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill. 

compost your food scraps indoors, organic gardening, compost bin

2. Fast Decomposition

Another notable advantage is the faster decomposition of organic material than traditional composting methods. The bokashi fermentation process can turn organic waste into nutrient-rich compost in a matter of weeks!

3. Soil Enhancer

A great soil health enhancer! Bokashi enriches the soil with beneficial microorganisms, nutrients and organic matter, improving soil structure and fertility. 

4. Weed Suppressor

Say hello to easy pest and weed suppression! Thanks to this anaerobic fermentation process, it inhibits weed seeds and pathogens. Meaning you’ll depend less on chemical pesticides and fertilizers. 

Bokashi is an organic eco-friendly fertilizer that provides essential nutrients to plants, promoting healthy growth and vitality.

Top Tips for Successful Bokashi Integration

Now that you’re fully aware of the ways on how to use bokashi compost in the garden, it’s time I shared some top tips for better bokashi incorporation. 

To ensure successful bokashi integration in your garden, it’s essential to prioritize complete fermentation of the organic waste as the process typically takes a few weeks. 

Furthermore, use caution when applying, especially when using undiluted bokashi tea, which can be rather concentrated. To assess the impact on your plants, closely monitor their responses and be ready to adjust your practices accordingly. 

convert food waste into a nutrient-rich soil, soil microbes and worms, decompose before planting, how to use bokashi compost

FAQs for How to Use Bokashi in the Garden

How long before you can plant after adding bokashi to the soil?

After adding Bokashi compost to your garden soil, it’s generally recommended to wait for a period of two to four weeks before planting.

What can I do with bokashi when gardening in an apartment?

If you are doing bokashi composting in an apartment but are unsure what to do with your fill bucket, there are a number of options. Creating a soil factory is a great way to store your compost so you can use it for container plants. Otherwise, donating your bokashi compost to a community garden or asking a green fingered neighbor if they’d like it are both great alternatives. 

Can you use bokashi with container plants?

Yes, you can. By incorporating bokashi into your container plants, you offer valuable nutrients and organic matter that enhances plant development and aids with water retention.

Can you use the same soil over and over again with bokashi?

It is feasible to reuse the same soil using bokashi composting, although it may necessitate some care and consideration. The best idea is to regularly add bokashi compost to your garden soil every season to replenish nutrients.

What if the bokashi pre-compost has a foul smell or mold?

This indicates issues with the fermentation process as successful bokashi compost will emit a tangy or yeasty aroma and might exhibit visible white mold. 

How to store unused Bokashi bran or pre-compost?

Store in an airtight container and ensure it’s sealed well to prevent air, sunlight, and moisture from entering.

Final Words on How to Use Bokashi in the Garden

In summary, bokashi composting stands as a beacon of sustainable and holistic garden practices. By following this guide on how to use bokashi in the garden, I seek to encourage gardeners to embrace this approach to foster healthier gardens. Learning how to use bokashi compost effectively helps complete the cycle of composting and feeding this back into the garden for optimal soil health.   

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About the Author

Elle Reed is a passionate gardener and advocate for teaching beginner gardeners how to grow their own food. Elle’s mission is to inspire and empower people to get back to basics, grow their own produce, and embrace a sustainable lifestyle. “Whether it’s a few herb pots in an apartment, a potager or a full garden plot, we can all ‘start somewhere’ to grow our own food, and in doing so, provide healthier food for ourselves and those we love”.