How to bokashi compost

Bokashi composting is fast and easy. Simply add food waste to the indoor kitchen composter, sprinkle with the bokashi bran mixture, and wait for the results. It takes just 4 to 6 weeks for your food waste to be transformed into microbe and nutrient rich compost. Read on to find out how to bokashi compost including informative videos.

Each of our Bokashi Composter Starter Kits includes a free bokashi user guide (kits start at just $50 USD).

How to bokashi compost in 4 simple steps:

How to bokashi compost: 4 simple steps

Step 1: Add

Simply add your food waste to the indoor kitchen composter.

You can put all food waste into your kitchen composter. Fruit, vegetables, cooked food, meat, dairy, grains and pasta are all fine; basically all food waste.

Step 2: Sprinkle

Next, sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of our premium bokashi bran mixture. Repeat each day until your bokashi bin is full. It will typically take around two weeks to fill your bokashi composter. Once full, seal the lid and let the bin sit for 2 weeks to complete the fermentation process.

Step 3: Bury

Your food scraps have now been transformed into microbe and nutrient-rich pre-compost, and is ready to bury in your garden. You can bury your fermented food waste in your garden, compost pile, or potting containers.

Step 4: Grow

In two weeks the pre-compost will be transformed into the soil web, to the benefit of all plants and soil in the surrounding area. Plant roots will thrive on the newly added bokashi microbes and food waste nutrients. You are then ready to grow your favorite flowers, fruits and vegetables. Watch your garden flourish!

How to bokashi compost: videos

Watch our how-to videos to help you get the most out of your bokashi composting system. Why not subscribe to our youTube Channel or check back here regularly for new content and videos?

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You might also like to read…

How many bokashi buckets do I need?

Benefits of bokashi composting

Bokashi composting: how to get started

Top 7 ways to bury bokashi pre-compost

53 thoughts on “How to bokashi compost

    1. Hi Nicole,
      Thanks for the question. Absolutely, you can use your bokashi composter during the winter! Bokashi composting works throughout the whole year. The majority of the process happens inside the indoor kitchen composter in the convenience of your own kitchen. During the cold winter months, the fermented food waste will take longer to transform into compost after it is buried in your garden. But it will still work.
      A useful blog piece here about getting the most out of your bokashi composter in the winter.
      We hope that helps. Please let us know if you have any other questions.

  1. I am using Bokashi composting for last 4 months for my kitchen waste. When I mix the Bokashi pre compost with coco peat and previously made compost using Bokashi method, a lot of white small larvae appear. How to prevent this? I am covering the composter bin with paper and not the proper lid as shown in your video. Is that a problem? The composter bin lid should have the holes or should it be Air tight?

    1. Just to clarify. Are you making a soil factory with your bokashi pre-compost or are you adding it to an existing compost pile?
      If you are making a soil factory, we would recommend adding a lid. This does not need to be airtight but it should keep the rain water out and reduce problems of flies. We would also recommend having a few drainage holes in the bottom of your soil factory (unless you have it stored on a balcony or other place where the liquid would have nowhere to drain). The lid and the drainage holes will prevent moisture build up in the soil factory which can cause it to smell and attract flies (and maggots/larvae).
      Make sure to cover your pre-compost with a good few inches of coco peat and finished bokashi compost. This will also help prevent flies (and larvae/maggots) getting in your soil factory.
      Looking forward to hearing how you get on 🙂
      Nicki and the Bokashi Living team

    2. I think the composter bin is supposed to be air tight for two weeks when it’s full, to create the acid environment that kills things like maggots. If you’re only covering the bin with paper, not the proper lid, then fly eggs or maggots that were in the compost when you put it in the bin, are still alive when you take it out of the bin.

      1. Hi Tamia,

        You are correct that the lid of the bokashi composter needs to be airtight to create the anaerobic environment needed for the food waste to ferment. However, I believe that Mrudula’s question related to the soil factory (the large container that is used for the second stage of bokashi composting, to mix the bokashi pre-compost (the fermented food waste) with soil). This second stage does not need to be airtight. The covering is only needed to prevent rainwater getting in to the soil factory.

        Happy composting 🙂

  2. With regard to winter months. The ground is frozen here during winter, so burying in the garden is not possible during these months. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. Hi Kate,
      Thanks for the question. This is a common situation for a lot of our customers and there are lots of options for handling your bokashi pre-compost in freezing conditions. The most common approaches are to add it to a compost pile (though that may be frozen and covered in snow), making a soil factory, storing the bokashi pre-compost until the spring, or a combination of all three. There is lots more information in this post here: https://bokashiliving.com/composting-in-the-cold-and-snow/

      I hope that helps. Feel free to ask any other questions here.
      Happy composting 🙂

  3. I know the bokashi needs to be buried but can it be buried in peat moss and vermiculite mixture for square foot gardening or does it have to be in soil or existing compost only?

    1. As you may already know, the bokashi pre-compost from your bokashi kitchen composter will look fairly similar to the food waste that you put into the bucket. The second stage (burying the pre-compost) is where your fermented food waste is broken down into the soil by the soil biota. The more life in your soil, the quicker the bokashi pre-compost will break down. The risk of mixing the pre-compost with peat moss and vermiculite is that there may not be much life in the soil to break down the pre-compost.

      We would suggest either:
      (1) Adding 1:1 ratio (soil:pre-compost) to your square-foot mix. The bokashi pre-compost is more concentrated than completed compost that you would typically use. If you choose this method, you will need to wait 2 weeks before sowing or planting in the mix so that the bokashi pre-compost has browkn down and the pH of the mix is less acidic.
      (2) Using a soil factory or compost pile to finish your bokashi pre-compost before adding it to your mix. Once the bokashi has broken down you can add the finished bokashi compost to your mix and use it as soon as you are ready.

      Feel free to ask any other questions you may have and happy composting,
      the Bokashi Living team

    1. Hi David,

      Interesting question. I don’t have first-hand experience of using bokashi tea on orchids but your orchids should love the boost of nutrients and microbes. Plus, most orchids tend to like a slightly acidic environment so they should do well with properly diluted bokashi tea. As you may be aware, bokashi tea is fairly acidic and we would typically recommend diluting it 1:100. However, for sensitive plants, such as orchids, you should probably start with closer to 1:500. Increase the concentration if your orchids can tolerate it.

      Happy composting
      the Bokashi Living team

    2. Hi. Have you tried the boashi tea on orchids now? I’ve been thinking about that myself. I am trying 1:500 today for the first time.

    1. The material from the bokashi bucket is not finished compost; the system doesn’t work like that. The bokashi pre-compost (the fermented food waste from the bokashi bucket) needs to be mixed with garden soil or in a compost pile to be finished. There are many way you can do this. One way is to dig small holes in the soil around plants and bury the bokashi pre-compost. After just 2-4 weeks the life in your soil will have broken down the bokashi pre-compost into a high quality soil.

      More information on what to do with your bokashi pre-compost here https://bokashiliving.com/what-do-i-do-with-my-pre-compost/

      I hope that answers your question. Please simply comment below if you have any more questions.

  4. I wish to convert bokashi precompost to red earthworm compost.
    How to do it well and how to take care of acidity issues including measures to neutralize the acidic environment in worm bins.

  5. Hello,

    I am wondering if one can bokashi compost cat waste? I use pine wood pellets for litter. I am wondering if it’ll work to throw both the used litter and feces into bokashi bucket or is it unsafe? If this is possible, can I use a bucket only for the cat waste and a separate bucket for food waste or will there not be enough moisture?

    Thanks for all of the helpful information!

    Alyssa

  6. I’ve emptied my first bokashi bucket today. I was generous with the bran and it has been sat for 2 weeks. I checked and drained tea every day. Whilst indoors and sealed it didn’t smell. As I emptied it into my soil factory we could smell a sicky smell. It’s now covered with a layer of soil, and we cannot now discern the yucky smell at all. Is this how it’s supposed to be?

    1. The whole bucket should have the same sweet, pickly smell. It can be fairly pungent, but it should not have a ‘sicky smell’. This suggests that part of your bucket may have failed. If you have successfully buried it then it is best to leave it and return in a few weeks. If the material has not broken down after a few weeks this confirms that some (or all) of the bucket did fail. If so, add a generous amount of bokashi bran and mix through the soil factory and add another few inches of soil. Leave for another couple of weeks and the bokashi microbes should be able to take hold.

      Our troubleshooting guide may help: https://bokashiliving.com/troubleshooting-what-to-do-if-you-bokashi-bin-goes-bad/

  7. My Bokashi bin has done everything I would expect; produce tea and smell sour but fresh – but it has no white mould on it. Does this mean it cant’s be precomposed and needs to wait longer or is it fine?

    1. You can have a successful bin without any white mold. The best way to tell if your bokashi bucket has worked is with the smell (sour, as you describe). If you have waited at least the 2 weeks for full fermentation, then it sounds like you are ready to bury this one 🙂

  8. Hi, my latest bit of ‘tea’ produced a lot of froth when I diluted it. Is it still safe to use on the plants?
    Thanks

    1. Yes, this tea is perfectly ok to use. You often see froth and even pieces of white mold floating on the top of the tea. All of this is signs that the bokashi microbes are present and happy 🙂

  9. I will be using the soil factory method to bury my bokashi. I do not have a garden set up yet, so I plan on buying potting soil to layer it in my bin with the my fermented bokashi. What soil do you recommend (Miracle Grow etc ) ????? I know that I have to layer it, soil, bokashi and soil but do I also have to add coco peat on top?

    Thanks

    1. Any bagged soil will work the same for a soil factory. You can add coco peat too, if you wish, but its not needed. The best soil you can use for your soil factory is soil with plenty of life in it. If you have access to a friends garden (or better yet, their compost pile), then add a few spadefuls of their compost. Most store bought composts and soils are sterilized before being bagged. This sterilization process kills all the good life in the soil and therefore means that your soil factory will take longer to work. But it will do eventually, you just need to be patient.

        1. The amount and timing of the tea will depend on what you are putting in to your bin. Drier items will produce less tea than wetter items such as fruits and veggies. You may also want to check that your spigot isn’t blocked. Tip the bucket to hear if there is any liquid sloshing about in the reservoir. If so, then try pushing on the lid with the spigot open. This may force the blockage out of the spigot.

          Not getting tea is not necessarily a sign that your bin has failed. Check to see if there is any blue/green mold and/or if the contents of the bin are smelling rotten (rather than the sweet pickle-like odor of bokashi pre-compost). If either of these are happening then your bokashi bucket has failed. Try adding a couple of generous handfuls of bokashi bran or discard the contents of the bin and start again.

          Quite often, even if you have added lots of dry material to your bin, the bokashi tea will come. You may just need to wait a few more days.

  10. My daughter brought me some brewed coffee grounds from starbucks. The grounds are a bit wet of coffee. Can I or should I add coffee ground, even if the coffee grounds are wet??

    1. Yes, the wet coffee ground can be added to the bokashi composter. Best to add and mix with other food waste, so that you don’t get a solid layer of compacted, wet coffee grounds in your bokashi composter.

      1. I thought you were able to put raw and cooked meats/eggs into a Bokashi bin but then I saw you stated it’s not worth the risk on one of the Q&A‘s. I haven’t added any meat yet but I have added raw egg shells. Should I get rid of this batch and start over?

        1. Hi Michelle,

          Thanks for the question. You are absolutely correct, raw and cooked meat and eggs can both go in your bokashi composter. So no need to get rid of this batch, you have done the right thing by adding egg shells to the bokashi bucket. We suggest being a bit more generous with the bokashi bran when adding these harder to compost items.

          I have just found the FAQ and this is referring to moldy meat and moldy eggs which are best avoided in the bokashi composter. I have just updated the answer so hopefully it is a bit clearer.

          Happy composting 🙂

  11. I would like to explore them scientific process taking place inside the bucket with my young students. Could you direct me to some diagrams etc that would help me out?

    1. Great to hear that you are teaching your young students about bokashi. Bokashi composting is about creating an ideal environment for the garden-friendly bokashi microbes to thrive. These microbes are the foundation to healthy soil. There is a symbiotic (2-way) relationship between our plants and these microbes. The plants send carbohydrates (sugary treats) down their roots to feed the soil microbes. In return, the microbes release nutrients and minerals from the soil for the plants to thrive. This is one of the most fundamental relationships on our planet, and one that is only just being understood. There is more information in this blog post: https://bokashiliving.com/why-bokashi/. Plus, you will find lots of information if you google ‘soil food web’. I hope this is helpful. 🙂

  12. Two questions:
    1. Can I keep this outside? I’m afraid my dogs will try to get into the composter when I’m not home.
    2. I live in an apartment with a small patio. Can you please explain how I would go about burring my pre-compost in potting containers?

    1. 1. You may be able to keep the bokashi composter outside, depending on where you live. The bokashi bucket needs to be kept close to room temperature and out of direct sunlight. Most people keep their bokashi kitchen composters in their homes, so that they are convenient to where the food waste is produced; under the kitchen sink is a common place (and potentially away from inquisitive dogs?)

      2. Add bokashi pre-compost to containers is simple. If you are completely refreshing a potting container, then you can add a layer of soil to the container, then mix in a layer of bokashi pre-compost and top with at least 6″ of soil (more information here: https://bokashiliving.com/using-bokashi-in-planters-and-containers/). Alternatively, you can dig holes in already planted containers and bury your bokashi pre-compost in the holes. The holes can be as large or small as appropriate to the container and plants. This is pretty much the same as using the ‘trench’ method, just that the trenches are smaller holes instead.

  13. Hello,
    I would really like to invest in the Bokashi method but I live in a small apartment where I only have small pots of individual plants. The city where I live also doesn’t offer organic waste pick up or else. What would you advise to do with the pre compost in my case?

    Thank you!

  14. Hi – I have dabbled in bokashi composting but one issue I had was that it attracted vermin when I buried it. I thought one of the benefits was that bokashi compost doesn’t appeal to vermin. Do you have any advice? Should I add more bran, or store the bokashi for longer before burial? Burying it deeper is not an option, unfortunately. The goal is to add it to a compost pile. Thank you!

    1. You are correct, the fermented bokashi pre-compost should not be an attractive food source to animals. Adding extra bran, leaving the bin to ferment for longer and chopping the food waste smaller will all help to ensure that the food waste is fully fermented before adding to your garden. Also, make sure to mix thoroughly with the surrounding soil before covering with at least 6″ of soil. Finally, putting a net (or similar) over the top of the buried bokashi is a great way to deter inquisitive animals. Weigh it down with a couple of rocks if needed.

        1. The fermented food waste should have a sweet pickly smell throughout. The fermentation process takes 2 weeks at room temperature when sufficient high quality bran is used (1 tbsp per 1″ of food waste) and the food waste is chopped into 1-2″ sized pieces. If you’ve had trouble with vermin, try leaving it for a week or two longer and adding a more generous amount of bran. This will help ensure it is fully fermented before adding to your garden. Also, make sure that you are correctly storing your bran. Bokashi bran stored at room temperature, in an airtight container, and out of direct sunlight will remain viable for up to 18 months. Badly stored, old, or poor quality bran will be far less effective.

    1. Our premium bokashi bran uses EM (Effective Micro-organisms). EM is a concentrated mother culture of naturally occurring beneficial micro-organisms (bacteria, yeast and fungi), and includes enhanced levels of purple non sulfur bacteria. This culture has been specially developed to work effectively to ferment and compost food waste. Using just bread makers yeast would not have the same results.

  15. Hello, I would like to use bokashi bran as a soil enhancer. Is it applied once per season just prior to planting? Thank you!

    1. We recommend adding about one cup of premium bokashi bran to one cubic foot of soil. Mix and use the soil as normal. Alternatively, just add a small handful into the hole before you plant. You can also top dress with bokashi bran throughout the season. We would recommend adding bokashi bran a few times during the season (particularly if your soil is poor and/or heavily cropped). And remember, you can’t add too much bokashi bran.

      This blog post gives a few more details about different uses for bokashi bran: https://bokashiliving.com/bokashi-bran-soil-amendment-compost-accelerator-compost-tea-brew/

  16. Hey Bokashi Living: I have been using two buckets since this past summer. Much, much better system than my old tumbler. By far!!
    Couple of questions, please. 1) what is the function of the “bottom plate”?
    2) we are composting SO much stuff from our kitchen waste. I have ordered a third bucket as we are filling a bucket every ten days to 2 weeks.
    Can we compost (in our bokashi bucket) these things: a)meat with freezer burn, b)cheese with mold, c)chicken and chicken bones, d)organs from large fowl (heart, gizzard, liver, kidneys), e) spent flowers, f) crustacean shells like peels from shrimp,
    And FINALLY..g) lint from the clothes drier/
    Thanks for your comments .
    W T Finch

    1. Hi,

      Great to hear that you are enjoying our bokashi composters and thanks for the questions.

      In answer:
      1. The bottom (drain) plate is to stop the food waste clogging up the spigot. It also creates a reservoir for the bokashi tea to be stored in such that the bottom layer of bokashi doesn’t get too wet and go bad.
      2. Yes, you can put all of these items in the bokashi bucket. The only points to note are that you shouldn’t add too much moldy food; too much blue/green mold can take over the bokashi microbes and cause the bucket to go bad. Lint from the clothes drier is fine, as long as you only have natural fibres in your clothes. Lint from driers used for non-natural fibres (fleece, polyester etc) will contain microplastics which you probably won’t want to add to your garden. And, one final note, whenever adding these harder to compost items (such as meat, bones and dairy) make sure to add an extra generous sprinkling of bokashi.
      Thanks and happy composting 🙂

  17. Use the smasher tool that comes with your Bokashi Bucket to smash down the food scraps into an even layer. This helps to make room for more and also reduces air pockets. Remember, air is our enemy.

  18. The Bokashi Bucket turns your food waste into a nutrient-rich compost that your plants, tress and lawn will love. Dirt ain’t cheap anymore. Why buy it when you can make it!

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