Thursday, 27 March 2008

Opening up the Bokashi

Today was D-Day as far as the Bokashi was concerned.

It has been left fermenting for the last couple of weeks. I hadn't dared open it and thought I'd leave it for a few more days just to be sure.

When I opened it today, I really didn't know what to expect.

However, what I hadn't quite expected was to see the food on top of the bin looking just like it did when I put it in two weeks ago. I suppose I thought it would be a bit more sludgy at the very least.

Hmmm. I wasn't sure whether I should leave it for another week, but without further ado, I thought it wise to ring Karen at Wiggly Wigglers and get some advice.

Much to my relief, she said it was normal and as long as I could smell something akin to pickle, it was safe to put in the composter or wormery.

Phew. That was a relief. It did smell like pickle, or even a bit like gone-off wine and it wasn't unpleasant at all.

So I ventured forth and started emptying the contents into the compost bin. As I dug deeper into the Bokashi, I could see how the food had started to break down into a more sludgy consistency that very much resembled a vegetarian shepherds pie.

I remembered that there had been some chicken at the bottom of the bokashi bin and even though I'd been reassured that it could also go into the composter, I thought I'd reserve it for the wormery. I don't know why, but driven by instinct I thought it would be useful to add some extra newspaper to both the wormery and the composter to help reduce the moisture from the bokashi contents.

I can't wait to see how it all turns out.

On a separate note, the wormery seems to be doing quite well and before too long I'll be ready to add an extra compartment to it. It's the equivalent of converting what is currently a worm bungalow into a two storey home. The worms won't know what to do with themselves!

Anyway, a quick visit to Jane Perrone's Horticultural blog reminded me that I should really be looking after the worms a little better than I have been and one of her latest posts prompted me to add some of the worm treats and anti-lime pellets (so thanks for that Jane, you are probably the worms' saviour). I also realised that I should also drain off any liquid that had filtered through into the worms' basement, before they run the risk of drowning.

So yesterday I drained off about two litres liquid, which I diluted in water and used as fertiliser on the roses and herbs in the garden. It was a little sad to see the rose of the watering can being clogged up with a few dead worms, but I am grateful that it wasn't the carnage that I'd been dreading.

In the end, I poured the dozen or so expired wrigglers onto the lawn as the dish of the day for the birds, who are probably delighted to get a change from the usual serving of bread.

So, fingers crossed, I think the combination of the wormery, composter and bokashi system has been a success.

And on that note, I'm off for a glass of wine to celebrate.


picklesmum said...

Smells like PICKLE?! My Pickle doesn't smell! Well, she does sometimes I suppose!

Rach said...

I have just put my first bokashi bucket into the wormery as well, I can't quite believe they're going to get through it all! Looking forward to finding out how yours cope, we shall compare notes!


TicklyToes said...

I have to admit to leaving our wormery tap open almost permanently if there's likely to be rain - with a pot underneath to catch the 'liquid gold'. We had a major drowning incident during the first winter of having the wormery - literally hundreds of dead worms coming out of that little tap .... not pleasant!


LOL Picklesmum - I read your message while out with Ruby last night. Please apologise to Pickle and reassure her that she doesn't smell like gone-off wine ;-D

Hi Rach - it's nice to know that there are other novices out there as well as me. Do let me know how you get on.

Hi Ticklytoes - that's a great top tip. I might try it because I have known to be a bit absent-minded on stuff like that, so this strategy might just help in keeping the worms safe. How long have you had your wormery? Any other info that you can share on it would be very useful to me, Rach and perhaps some other visitors.

Simon Sherlock said...

You will always get some worms in the sump BUT you will be amazed to find that most will still be alive (though I empty mine weekly so there's less build up).

You'll also be amazed at how quick the worms get through that Bokashi! It has speeded up my worms ten fold (and probably more) - when the outside temperature is optimal (no frosts) you'll find it almost gone within a month, even though when you put it in it pretty much fills a tray.

mel said...

Ooh, AMA, your bokashi looks good! I've fed my worms two lots of bokashi so far - they seem happy, despite the chilly weather, but Simon, your experience is most reassuring for us novices!

I'm doing a York Rotters composting course tomorrow, I'll be sure to pass on whatever hot tips I pick up! (



Thanks for the advice Simon, that is very encouraging. It's always tricky to know if things are going in the right direction with this kind of thing. I'm now looking forward to the next bin's worth of bokashi. I reckon, we've got another week of filling it up before we leave it for a couple of weeks, which isn't bad going on the food waste front.

Thanks Mel - I am so glad you "guys and gals" are out there. (Sorry for the Jimmy Saville moment). Please do share your notes from your composting course. I'm sure there will be many grateful readers. Hope you enjoy the course.

mel said...

Just back from my composting course, it was really fascinating (or maybe that's just me...)

There were a few surprises - did you know, for example, that you can compost rubber gloves & balloons (they're made of latex, which is of course a nutural product) and sellotape (made from cellulose, which comes from wood - though obviously plastic-based tape won't compost), and that some stationery manufacturers are now using corn-starch "plastic" for envelope windows?

I also taught them something - apparently no-one at our local environment centre knew that you can feed bokashi to worms.

Much fun, and I've signed up as a volunteer to spread the word!



Wow Mel - that's fantastic - composting balloons. As a mum with small kids that's such good news. thanks for the other top tips too. I will most definitely share those this week if that's okay with you. Thank you and great news about you volunteering to spread the news....and the compost ;-D

pouch said...

I've been making Bokashi compost with a wiggly wigglers bin for about a year now and your compost sounds just about right. I always think it smells sort of like cider vinegar, quite sweet and not really unpleasant considering how long some of the food has been in there!
Good luck with it, I'm sure it will be fine :)


Thanks Pouch - it's great to have your feedback and thanks for passing by.

Karen @ Wiggly Wigglers said...

Great post and glad to hear it's going well. One word of caution though. When you add Bokashi waste to your wormery start off with a small amount and gradually build up the quantities.


Hi Karen - thanks for your advice. That's great. You'll be relieved to know that only a little bit went into the wormery and the rest went into compost, more by luck than judgement.

Anonymous said...

Can something thats only okay for Bokashi composting (meat, allum family or spices etc) go in a wormery after its done its composting thing? Or is it best to treat the Bokashi like a wormery minus the worms, if its eventually going to be worm-food anyway?

Simon Sherlock said...

anonymous, it is fine for Bokashi'ed anything to be fed to worms - my finished Bokashi has been going in the wormery for over 12 months now with no problems. Obviously bones will take longer to get eaten, as will egg shells, but everything else will get munched on just fine.


Hi Anonymous, thanks for the query. I recommend Simon's advice on this as he definitely knows more about this than me.

Simon, cheers for the info. It's much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your advice.
I think my worms will appreciate the Bokashi as they really like the EM activated bran I give them occasionally!
Thanks again,


Hi Karen - no probs, just glad to be of help and very pleased to have you popping by. ;-D

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