I'm Ready to Give Up!
I’ve been so excited about the whole bokashi process, but it doesn’t seem to be working. I’m letting everything sit even longer than you recommend and still… I’ve let my pre-compost ferment for 3 weeks then buried it. After an entire month I tried to dig in and found a lot of it hadn’t broken down – I’m talking stuff like crushed eggshells, not bones! There were tons of worms, which was great, but I chalked it up to not adding enough extra soil and mixing it in properly. I had another trench dug and paid close attention to the amount of soil I added and mixed it up well. SIX WEEKS later, the food was completely broken down, but my soil was still a sticky, gooey clay like it’s always been. It wasn’t all loose and crumbly like I thought it would/should be. I dumped my last pre-compost collection in the trash because I’ve had it! What in the world am I doing wrong?
Dont despair! Soil building is a gradual process, especially when the soil is depleted of organic matter (you mention yours is clay like). Remember that there is no breakdown happening within your bokashi bin. Instead, it is a fermentation action that is occurring. Fermenting the food waste inoculates it with a tremendous amount of garden friendly microbes, which in turn prepares it for rapid assimilation into the soil structure. Normally, within 3 weeks AT LEAST 90% of the visible food waste should be assimilated back into the soil structure. If you are not experiencing this, then it points almost certainly to 1 major issue: your soil may be depleted of life compared to other soils. It is good that you are seeing earthworms, so don’t be completely discouraged just yet.
We would advise you to continue doing just what you are doing, and try making sure of just a couple things:
1) make sure that your bokashi bran is fresh (less than one year old) and has been stored correctly (store it in an airtight container, out of direct sunlight and excessive heat),
2) store your bokashi bin out of direct sunlight when you are using it (excessive heat will kill the microbes),
3) try mixing your fermented pre-compost with MORE soil than you are currently doing (try mixing it 1 to 1 with soil in your trench or hole, before you bury it). This will mix in more garden microbes and macrobes to the bokashi pre-compost, and should help them properly assimilate the food waste into the soil web.
And again, remember that soil building is a gradual process. Adding organic matter, like bokashi pre-compost, is fundamental to returning the soil back to a healthy and natural condition.
And if you have any other questions, please feel free to ask them here or call our office. Keep doing what you are doing and your plants and garden will thank you!