Winter composting: Getting the most from your bokashi bucket

Traditional compost piles tend to be less active during the winter as the core temperatures drop. Bokashi composting offers a great solution for composting your food scraps during these colder months and throughout the year in colder climates. You can continue to compost all of your food scraps in your bokashi kitchen composter through the winter.

Tips for using your bokashi bucket in the winter

Gardening in the winterYou can continue to use your indoor bokashi kitchen composter in the same way as during the rest of the year. Keep adding your food scraps and sprinkling on the bokashi bran. There are just a few simple things to consider when bokashi composting in the winter:

1. Store your bokashi bucket indoors

If you normally keep your bokashi bucket outside, move it to somewhere where temperatures will not drop below freezing. Your bokashi bucket should be kept at around room temperature whilst it is being filled and during the fermentation process. Keeping you bokashi bucket inside is often most convenient as it is close to where food waste is produced.

2. Store your bokashi bran at room temperature

Store your bokashi compost accelerator (bokashi bran) in a place where temperatures will not fall below freezing. Freezing may kill the EM bacteria and therefore make your bokashi bran ineffective.

3. Increase fermentation time

If possible, leave your bokashi kitchen composter for an extra few days to complete the fermentation process, rather than just the two weeks usually suggested. The pre-compost may take slightly longer to break down after being buried during the winter. So make sure the fermentation process has had plenty of time before transferring the pre-compost outside. Consider adding another bokashi bucket to your bokashi composting set-up to allow extra time for the contents of your full bokashi buckets to ferment.

What to do with your pre-compost in the winter

Composting in the snow

Snow may cover your garden during some (or all) of the winter and your soil may be too frozen to dig into. This can obviously make the trench method of burying your bokashi pre-compost pretty difficult. But don’t worry, there are still a number of ways in which you can add the bokashi pre-compost to your garden:

1. Continue using the trench method

If you are still able to dig your soil then make the most of the winter months and use the trench method. This is a great time of year to get nutrients into your soil and you likely have some vacant patches where you can dig your trench to bury your pre-compost.

2. Add to your compost pile

Alternatively, add your pre-compost to your compost pile. The microbes in the fermented bokashi pre-compost will add life to your compost pile. This life is really beneficial particularly during winter when your compost pile is fairly inactive.

3. Make a soil factory

If your ground is frozen and difficult to dig then try making a soil factoryUsing a soil factory eliminates the need to dig a trench in your soil and means that you will have plenty of compost ready to use in your garden in the spring.

4. Store the pre-compost

Another great option during the winter is to simply leave your pre-compost over the winter. Place your pre-compost in an airtight container and then add to your garden, containers, compost pile etc in the spring. Once it has completed it’s two weeks fermentation it is less sensitive to cold temperatures. Sub-zero temperatures will simply cause the bokashi microbes to become dormant. Avoid large fluctuations in temperature. It’s best to keep your airtight container out if direct sun or wind. Remember to add a thick few layers of paper (or other absorbent material) to soak up any excess liquids. Simply store your fermented food waste until you need it.

Winter shipping of Bokashi Living orders

We have had a number of customers ask if they should wait until spring to order their bokashi composting kit or their bokashi bran, as they are concerned that cold temperatures during shipping will kill or harm the bokashi microbes. But there is no cause for concern. During shipping of all our Bokashi Living orders, depending on the destination, we use a combination of air and ground transport. The cargo areas in both these transport methods is controlled and kept above freezing temperatures. Along the way, packages can also sit overnight in heated warehouses as well, depending on the destination. So, go ahead and order your bokashi composting supplies. Give yourself a head start with fantastic compost to get your garden started in the spring!

Order now! Find all your bokashi composting supplies in our online shop.

You might also like to read

How to store bokashi bran

How to make a simple soil factory

12 thoughts on “Winter composting: Getting the most from your bokashi bucket

  1. Your winter suggestions just aren’t practical in Alberta, where we have 6 months of frozen ground. It is not feasible to store six months of bokashi in a container outside or inside. Can I simply spread it on the garden and work it in when the snow melts in the spring. Alternatively, I could create a pile on the garden and tarp it. Let me know if these options would work or perhaps bokashi is more geared for more moderate climates.

    1. Thanks for your questions. Bokashi composting is absolutely possible in your cold Albertan climate. We have lots of happy bokashi composters in northern Canada and cold US states; it just requires a bit more ingenuity to be able to bokashi compost through the long cold winters.

      The bokashi pre-compost needs to be buried at around 6 inches deep, so working it in to the top layers after the snow melts is not ideal. We would recommend storing the bokashi pre-compost in a animal proof container until it can be buried. A large garbage can or several 5 gallon buckets with lids work for most people. If you expect to produce larger quantities then consider digging a large trench or hole in your garden while the soil is still workable. Add your bokashi pre-compost to this area over the winter. As soon as the soil becomes unfrozen, you can mix in and bury the bokashi pre-compost.

      Happy composting 🙂

    2. Hi,
      I am in Alberta.
      I was considering to dig a few bokashi tranches in fall and fill them up over winter (I use them now for pet waste only) but then instead I decided to use an indoor soil factory method in winter. No regrets! I will add the part of the factory matter to my compost pile (I can not open it now, it is all covered with snow and frozen, I manage to get just a small opening and occasionally poor bokashi tea to the pile) and in my flower beds in spring, and I also am already using some of that soil in my house plant pots mixing it with old soil, my plants love it.
      I use a blue square plastic bin with a lid for the soil factory. It holds tree buckets of fermented bokashi already and soon I will add my fourth bucket into it. I added some old soil from my house plants just in the very beginning when I was setting up the soil factory (I followed this website directions for that) and am not adding new soil now, I am just adding fermented food. I store the factory in my basement. It doesn’t smell bad. I do not check on it at all (I was with my first portion of bokashi though, just out of curiosity). The only thing I watch for – when I remove the lid from the bin to add more bokashi I am trying to hold the lid the way so the condensed water from it doesn’t spill on the floor. I mix fermented food with the soil very well and cover it with the existing soil layer. I learnt to chop my food waste into fairly small pieces, it doesn’t take much time to do but significantly speeding the fermentation.
      One more thing about that soil factory of mine – it is quite moist = heavy. I would need a bucket and to take a couple trips between my soil factory and my garden when it is time to use it outside in spring.
      I hope your bokashi works for you!! It is a great way to utilize the food scraps and benefit from that at the same time 🙂

      1. Great to hear that you are enjoying bokashi composting and thanks for all the insight! Your garden will thank you in the spring when you add the bokashi compost to your soil.
        Happy composting 🙂

        1. Thank you so much for posting a lot of great information here. I am in Ontario. It was -20 last night. I think my plan is working. I chop my food scraps well for faster fermentation. Keep it under sink for longer than two weeks and than it goes to a large blue bin lined with soil, and topped with soil. All this is done in the shed. My question is how long it will take after it is defrosted. How could I speed this process so that I can use it for my spring container mix.
          I use mushrooms compost, bokashi, peat moss, perlite. Worm castings if I have and a bit of rock dust. What do you think about that mixture for my soil. Any feedback would be appreciated. Thank you.

          1. Hi Daria,

            Firstly, kudos to you for all your composting and soil building work! After your large blue bin has defrosted it should take 2-6 weeks for the bokashi pre-compost to break down. The soil organisms will still be fairly cold and slow; hence it could take up to 6 weeks to break down. Chopping your food waste smaller, and leaving the bucket to ferment for more than 2 weeks are both great ideas to speed up the final breakdown of the bokashi pre-compost. Once the soil in your blue bin is workable, you could also try chopping and mixing the soil and pre-compost mix, and then adding a fresh layer of high quality garden soil. This will help distribute the pre-compost and mix up any larger pieces, and add a boost of good soil organisms to the bin.

            Happy composting!

  2. I am very much interested in gardening. You have really done a job in spreading the importance information relating to Bokashi composting .It is really very helpful,& I am pretty sure many will be encouraged to take up Bokashi composting as a hobby which will go a long way in improving the health of this beautiful Earth.

  3. Can the pre-compost material be placed in a tumbler compost bin? I don’t have a traditional compost pile. Also it freezes over the winter, is that an issue?

    1. Absolutely, a tumbler compost bin will work fine. Make sure there is plenty of other good quality compost in the bin to mix with the bokashi pre-compost. And freezing temperatures are fine for the second stage of bokashi composting. However, low temperatures will slow down the bokashi microbes, so the pre-compost may take longer than 2 weeks to break down.
      Happy composting 🙂

  4. Thank you, one more question. What is typically the contents of the liquid that is pulled off the bin once full? Just curious about the 1:100 mixing ratio. I know that all liquid will be different depending on what was placed in the bin but there must be some sort of common composition there. Any insight?

    1. The N-P-K values will vary depending on what food waste was put into the bokashi bucket. I’m afraid we don’t have any general numbers as they vary so much depending on what is put in to the bucket. But the power in the bokashi tea comes from the microbes (rather than the N-P-K). The bokashi microbes are hugely beneficial to your soil and garden. These microbes form the critical foundation to the soil food web. These microbes form a symbiotic relationship with your plant roots to release nutrients and microbes that are otherwise inaccessible to the plant roots.
      Happy composting 🙂

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