Monday, November 14, 2011

Compost Mishaps

So I may have gotten ahead of myself on the composting front. The worm bins are going so well that I thought I should take it to the next level; bokashi. This is a Japanese anaerobic method of composting that basically pickles the food and then you put the pickled scraps through a regular composting process. Why go throw the extra hassle? With bokashi you can put in dairy, meat, and bones which you can't do in a worm or regular compost pile! So after a few weeks of research, I took what I like best from several sites and came up with this...

1. Buy a plastic, sealable bin making sure that it will fit in a trash bag just in case this experiment goes horrible wrong. Some web sites sell bokashi buckets that have a spigot on the bottom to catch the "tea" to use as fertilizer. I skipped this to save money, and since I have worm "tea" I don't think I need anymore fertilizer.
2. Most folks purchase pre-made bokashi bran. This bran is inoculated in effective microorganisms (EM) (good bacteria). They then layer the bran on the bottom of the sealable container put food scraps over that and then another layer of bran with a weight of some sort over that so as to keep air out. You continue layering until the bin is filled. You can then let the entire bucket ferment for a few weeks and take the pickled food and put it in you your worm bin, regular compost, or dig it into the ground. Being a DIYer, I found some web sites that talked about people who used newspaper which is much cheaper than bran. I also decided against buying EM solution. I went to the home brew store and bought lactobacillus.
3. To get the bacteria started, I put it with molasses and warm water kept it in a warm spot over night and then put it in my bin with shredded newspaper. As a test, I took a few handfuls and put that in the small plastic baggie. The plan was to allow everything to ferment for two or three weeks, dry out the newspaper and begin a bokashi bin.
4. I had mixed success. The newspaper molded instead of fermenting, and I now have a giant bin of funk! However the newspaper in the baggie is perfect. The only mold color is white which is okay and the mixtures smells sweet and sour just like it should. I have come to the conclusion that the problem with the bin was it had too much exposure to air.

In my next attempt, I want to make this even more of a DIY project. I plan on making my own EM solution from a old Thai farmer recipe. (Check out this site for the info.) Yes I recognize the fact that I probably shouldn't be trying to do more of this myself considering it didn't go so well the first time but it is just ingrained in my personality to always strive for more self sufficiency. Now the question is how to get a get the bin of mold out in the trash without Jeff noticing...

The starter yeast with molasses and oats.
Newspaper shreddings- pre crazy mold!