Gardening in the winter

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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 winter

You 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 microbes 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. Ideally, the pre-compost should not be allowed to freeze. Sub zero temperatures will damage and kill the beneficial microbes in the bokashi pre-compost. It’s best to keep your airtight container out of direct sun or wind. Simply store your fermented food waste until you need it. If your bokashi pre-compost is exposed to freezing temperatures, then we would recommend adding extra bokashi bran in the spring as your bury the pre-compost. This will help to repopulate the beneficial microbe populations that have been killed and damaged by the freezing temperatures.

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

21 responses to “Winter composting: Getting the most from your bokashi bucket”

  1. Pitula says:

    Just clarifying: “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.” vs “Sub-zero temperatures will simply cause the bokashi microbes to become dormant.” Is there a difference in the microbes between their bran form and their pre-compost form?

    • Nicki Casley says:

      Thanks for the question. To clarify, there is no difference in the bokashi microbes in the bokashi bran and the pre-compost form. Sub-zero temperatures will damage and kill the microbes in both the bokashi bran and the pre-compost. The difference being that if the bokashi bran is frozen, and the microbes killed, there is no way to repopulate and the bokashi bran is effectively dead. However, if the bokashi pre-compost is frozen and the microbes killed, the pre-compost may be repopulated with soil microbes when it is buried BUT this assumes that there are sufficient microbes already present in the soil that you are burying the bokashi pre-compost in. As many of our soils are lacking in these beneficial microbes and biota, the microbes in your bokashi pre-compost are incredibly valuable. We would recommend, where-ever possible, that the pre-compost is stored above freezing temperatures so that the microbes are not damaged.

      Hope that helps. I have updated the blog post slightly to clarify this point.
      Happy composting 🙂

  2. Louise says:

    I’m in cold Ontario. I’m planning to start this compost system. Once my kitchen bin has been filled and ready. Can I just put it in a regular city green bin in the garage? I’ll add soil as per instructions. Then, when my next kitchen bin is ready, top up my green bin and add more soil. Repeat until it’s full. If I understand correctly, in the spring, I will open that green bin and within 3 weeks, I can add in trenches around my garden? Is this correct?

    • Nicki Casley says:

      Absolutely, this is a great thing to do with your bokashi pre-compost during the winter. This is often called a ‘soil factory’. If you are using a regular city bin, you may find that liquid accumulates at the bottom of the soil factory and it could get quite smelly at the bottom. The compost will be absolutely fine to use; just a word of warning for when you dig out the contents in the spring. Also, make sure to mix the bokashi pre-compost well, when you add it to the green bin. Mixing the pre-compost helps it to be assimilated with the soil more readily. And try to use healthy garden soil or compost that is full of life as this will also help the pre-compost break down more rapidly. Bagged compost is often sterilised, and lacking in the healthy life needed to break down the bokashi pre-compost.

      Happy composting 🙂

  3. Lesley Simmons says:

    I live in Perth, Western Australia & have a lot of eucalyptus trees in my garden, amongst others. I have TONS of Eucalyptus leaves. I do compost my kitchen waste & am very interested in the Bokashi system for this. Can I use it to compost the Euc leaves in the garden too & how would you suggest I go about it. Thanks for the great info here ?

    • Nicki Casley says:

      Hi Lesley,

      Thanks for the question. We are based on in western Canada so Eucalyptus is not a common problem for us 😉 However, we typically recommend keeping garden waste out of your bokashi composter, and saving space for more valuable food waste.

      Bokashi bran is great when added directly to your compost pile. The beneficial bokashi microbes would be useful to control the potential toxins from the Eucalyptus leaves in your compost pile. I would recommend reaching out to @compostable.kate on Instagram (an Australian on a mission to get everyone composting 🙂 )

  4. mamat says:

    hi.. i want to start to use bokashi. i bought 30 liter bin. i modified it so that i can collect bokashi tea from the bottom part of the bin.

    my plan is to keep adding kitchen waste in the bin everyday and collect bokashi tea from it.

    my questions :
    – can i keep adding the waste into the bin without taking out the old waste that already composed?
    – how long can i keep the composed waste in the bin?

    thank you.

    • Nicki Casley says:


      Great to hear that you are getting in to bokashi composting. In answer to your questions:

      – yes, you can keep adding food waste to your bin but remember that bokashi is a 2 stage process. The bokashi’d food waste needs to be mixed with soil in order to complete the composting process. It will not turn into finished compost in the bokashi bucket.
      – The fermenting food waste can be kept in the bin for as long as you want. As long as you remember to keep draining the tea, the bokashi’d food waste can sit in the bin for months; likely longer.

      If you want to get a continuous supply of bokashi tea, you may be better setting up 2 bokashi buckets. Once you’ve filled one bin, you can allow this to sit and ferment (and collect the bokashi tea) while you are filling the second bin. Once the first bin has fermented for at least 2 weeks, the second bin should be producing tea, and you can bury the contents of the first bin. Using a 2 (or more) bin system is popular with most bokashi composters.

      Happy composting 🙂

  5. Denise says:

    Can you keep the soil factory indoor? In the basement? Will they smell or have insect issues? Please kindly comment. Thanks.

  6. Chris Tine says:

    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?

    • Nicki Casley says:

      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 🙂

  7. Chris Tine says:

    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?

    • Nicki Casley says:

      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 🙂


    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.

  9. Mark Digel says:

    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.

    • Nicki Casley says:

      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 🙂

    • Yulia says:

      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 🙂

      • Nicki Casley says:

        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 🙂

        • Daria Horrocks says:

          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.

          • Nicki Casley says:

            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!

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