I was very excited to receive my Bokashi Bin, I’d seen one in a garden centre once and wanted one ever since. My expectations were high as it promised to solve many issues, such as speeding up the composting process, composting a greater variety of foodstuffs (including cooked foods), and reducing the number of times I would need to take kitchen waste to the garden compost bin by providing a small, sealed container to keep in the kitchen with no smells and no flies. As a bonus, it would also produce a concentrated liquid to use as plant feed, or as a natural cleaner for sinks, drains and toilets.
Inserting the tap was a little tricky as I had to reach into a tight area to screw the nut in properly and push the tap in firmly from the outside. But the instructions were clear and showed how to loosen the tap if you screwed it in too hard. All that was then needed was to pop the drainage tray into the bottom of the bucket.
I had a lot of kitchen waste waiting to be composted, so decided to add it a little at a time as the instructions said that the bran should cover each layer.
It took four scoops of bran to cover the first layer, although I think I misread the instructions and should have squashed the material down first with the trowel before adding the bran, so when I added the next layer of kitchen waste I made sure to spread it out and flatten it. This time one scoop of bran was sufficient and was easily sprinkled across the surface.
I was surprised to learn that teabags shouldn’t be added like in a regular garden composter. I presume it’s because the bags themselves don’t always compost well and may then block the tap. Teabags are usually made from a plastic called polypropylene, which takes longer to break down in compost than paper. They are however still suitable for outdoor composting, and you can always speed up the process by ripping open the bags first.
Then I was ready to go! Within two weeks my Bokashi bin was already filled with vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grinds from the percolator, cooked leftovers, crumbs, small chicken bones and fish bones. The most impressive aspect was the lack of smell and having far fewer flies in the kitchen. I also loved the fact I was composting without having to make numerous trips to the compost bin. However I soon realised how little space was in my kitchen as ideally the first bin should be in an easily accessible place for drawing liquid from it each day and the second bin needs to be handily placed to add waste and bran.
Once the first bin was filled up I started on the second one. I left the first bin to ferment and hoped I would soon draw off some liquid to use on the garden as fertiliser. But two weeks on there was no sign of any liquid so I decided to tip the contents into the garden compost bin and start again.
The second bin worked much better and, after just a few days, started producing a small amount of liquid each day. I then realised that hadn’t fitted the tap correctly on the first bin, hence the lack of liquid – so much for the clear instructions! I can now see you need to be very careful with the clear, plastic tap washers, they look like one but are in fact two very thin ones which need to be fitted tightly or else the tap will leak – something that started to happen with the second bin. This time I roped my husband into tightly fitting the taps on both bins!
I continued to add the waste and a daily layer of bran while drawing off the liquid, but encountered a few more minor issues. The lids of the bins became less tight after just a few uses, so I had to place a heavy board on top to reduce the sickly sweet aroma escaping, and to ensure the fermentation process wasn’t hampered by air getting in. The plastic trowel provided to flatten the contents also broke and I had to use a large serving spoon instead. But, on the plus side, my garden compost bin is now far more effective with the addition of the Bokashi contents – the full composter reduced to half within a month and the compost produced is much finer than normal.