The Basics of Bokashi Bran Home Preparation
Bokashi and the knowledge of bokashi composting is a tool that should be in every farmer’s gardening toolkit. The technique is more than just composting scraps from your kitchen and it can be used anywhere especially where conditions for normal composting are unfavorable. There are several bokashi recipes out there and many gardeners use the commonly available materials to compost their own homemade bokashi.
What is Bokashi Bran?
The word bokashi is Japanese and it means, ‘fermenting of organic matter’. Bokashi bran therefore can be defined as a substrate that uses live effective micro-organisms to ferment your kitchen food waste. This is achieved by layering your kitchen waste and the bokashi mix in a bokashi bin (or bucket), making it air-tight and leaving it to ‘pickle’.
The three principles of good homemade bokashi bran include:
- quality nutrients,
- the correct micro-organisms
- and the appropriate level of moisture.
The nutrients should have a high supply of carbohydrates which help the bacteria to multiply faster and inhibit fungal growth. Simple sugars such as molasses can be good sources of the required carbohydrates. The micro-organisms used to make a healthy bokashi bran, include anaerobic organisms like Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas, Actinomyces and several others although the most important one is Lactobacillus (Lactic Acid). The preparation of a good culture ensures you get the desired group of micro-organisms.
Maintaining an environment with a good level of moisture (preferably above 60%) allows bacteria to thrive effectively. Pure water without chlorine should be added to your substrate every time it dries up to keep up the moisture content at a working level. Remember chlorine kills most of these bacteria, therefore rain water or any other source of pure water must be used. The resultant bokashi bran (substrate) is what is used to compost your kitchen scraps in your air-tight container.
Make Your Own Bokashi Bran
It is very important for farmers or gardeners to learn this simple way of making their own bokashi bran through easy methods that can be implemented at home. The most common starter culture is made from a water solution obtained from regular rice wash. Culturing the lactic acid (lactobacillus serum) requires you to follow the
following bokashi bran recipe.
What you will need:
- Rice or wheat bran
- Water-tight container
Mix the water with the rice and mix vigorously, then drain the rice, saving the milky (cloudy) water solution. The resultant rice water should be placed in a container, loosely covered, and left to stand for up to 8 days. The liquid should now be strained, to remove any particles present in the mix. This by now should have a mildly sour smell.
To get a purified form of lactic acid, the rice water solution should be poured into a larger container and 10 parts skimmed milk added to it. This solution should sit for 14 days to allow for complete fermentation. Floating milk solids are then strained to leave you with a yellowish serum which now has the lactobacillus bacteria.
- 1 part molasses,
- 6 parts water and
- 1 part lactobacillus
in another container and soak the newspaper in the mixture. Cover the soaked newspaper in a snap-top container and keep it in a dark cool spot for up to 2 weeks for proper fermentation. After the fermentation period separate the newspaper and dry it out thoroughly. It is now the carrier of the bacteria.
The bokashi bran activator can also be made using sawdust, wheat bran, peat, coffee grounds or rice hulls. This bran can then be dried and crushed to be added in small quantities in between your chopped kitchen waste to ensure that the bacteria spreads throughout the bokashi composting bucket quickly.
These are the basic bokashi bran making tips for home gardeners who like to do it themselves. With these tips anyone can make their own bokashi bran no matter where they live because the materials needed are easily and cheaply available.