Using bokashi in planters and containers

Growing in planters and containersBokashi composting makes it possible for people with limited outside space to make high quality homemade compost from their food waste. From talking to our customers, we know that there are a large number of you who use the soil factory method to bury your pre-compost. Here, we will look at a slight variation on this; burying your bokashi pre-compost directly into a planter or container. This is something that I have been doing in my backyard for a number of years with great success.

By adding bokashi pre-compost to your containers you are adding great nutrients and organic matter which will help with plant growth and water retention. In my sun trap of a garden I used to lose many plants if I forgot to water for a day. Since adding bokashi pre-compost each year to my containers I have noticed much better water retention. Forgetting to water my containers for a day or two no longer results in parched, dead plants.

Step 1: Choose your container

Any planter will work for this as long as it has drain holes. Personally I think the larger the container the better; larger containers tend to dry out more slowly!

Step 2: Add garden soil

Firstly add a layer of good garden soil. Fill the container approx 1/3 full.

Ideally you want soil with lots of life in it; worms, bugs, creepy crawlies etc. If you only have access to potting compost then try to add a few handfuls of good garden soil too (ask a neighbor or local community garden). The more life you have in your soil the quicker the pre-compost will break down.

Step 3: Add the pre-compost

Next, add a layer of bokashi pre-compost. Again, you want to fill your container by approximately a third.

Step 4: Mix

Mix the bokashi pre-compost well with the soil layer below. Make sure to break up any lumps of bokashi pre-compost. The final stage of the bokashi composting process will work faster when mixed thoroughly with the surrounding soil.

Step 5: Cover with more soil

Fill the container with more garden soil. Again, you can use shop-bought compost but expect the pre-compost to take slightly longer to break down as there are significantly fewer biota in bagged compost than garden soil. The pre-compost will sink slightly, therefore mound the final layer of garden soil. Add extra garden worms, if available!

Step 6: Cover (optional)

Cover the container with a large plastic bag or lid to prevent from getting wet. Alternatively, move the container to a dry area. Excessive rain and water may cause the bokashi pre-compost to rot and putrefy.

Step 7: Wait

Leave the container for at least 2 weeks (ideally up to 4 weeks, if possible). You may see white mold on the surface. This is the fungi from the bokashi microbes; the same as you may see on the top of your bokashi bucket.

Step 8: Plant

After 2-4 weeks you are ready to plant. Mix the soil in the container. If you see lumps of bokashi pre-compost then you need to leave it for a few days longer for the soil biota to finish breaking down the pre-compost.

You can now add your plants directly to the container; no need to add further fertilizer. Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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

9 thoughts on “Using bokashi in planters and containers

  1. I explored Bokashi for a short period and left the bin with my father to collect food waste but must have done something wrong – it wreaked something horrible. I buried a few bucketfuls and quit. Fast forward till today and I find myself gardening and growing vegetables and herbs more than ever. I’d like to try Bokashi again! I’d like to do it right this time. I’m trying to find the perfect space for it. I need clarification on how much sun the bins can tolerate. Also, can the bins be located in nearly complete shade?

    1. Hi, Thanks for the questions and great to hear that you are interested in starting bokashi again. The bokashi bucket should be stored at room temperature and out of direct sun. Most people choose to keep the bokashi bucket in their kitchen, close to where the food waste is produced. The buckets are airtight and will give off no odors so can be comfortably stored inside.

      The bokashi compost should have a sweet pickly smell. A foul putrid smell, as you describe, shows that the bucket had gone bad. Often times it can be from not using enough bran, letting too much air into the bin, or the bokashi bran being old and inactive.

      Happy composting 🙂

  2. Since Bokashi is a fermentation process, the microbes in the brew would be microbes that live in acidic conditions. That is not the condition found in soil. so when these microbes are later placed on the soil, they will die because the environment in the soil is so different from the Bokashi pail. Not always true, and in some cases such as mine this is the exact idea. The pickling process kills most of the air breathing microbes, nematodes, etc which are pathogenic on my land. The faster composting of material after Bokashi is a huge improvement that should be noted, and does work. Instead of years, natural composting with the pickled material mixed with soil and carbon rich items can be managed in a couple of months. Obviously organic matter continues to decay, but this makes it usable much faster.

  3. Hi I’m looking to try the Bokashi composting method + soil factory for the first time. I’ve a few questions and concerns, any help and advice would be greatly appreciated!
    1. [Soil Factory] Living in Southeast Asia in an apartment with a tiny balcony space: Is it okay if I’m using the plastic bin with the two clip on clasps for my soil factory?
    2. [Soil factory] Can I use store-bought garden soil (with no creepy crawlies) I’m scared of the possible mess/lack of space that will add to the mess.
    3. [Bokashi] Can I place a slightly smaller size bin (with the drilled holes) into a flatter, larger bucket – slightly elevated by something so it drips out into the (bucket) ‘dish’ underneath? Is this normal or is it not recommended at all?
    4. [Soil factory] Close to the final step if and when the bokashi and soil is decomposed successfully, can I just keep everything in that one bin and add some of that compost onto my smaller, existing indoor plants + as well as use them to pot and grow new small plants and herbs?

    Thank you so much in advance!

    1. Hi Jenna,

      Thanks for your questions. In answer:
      1. You do not need to have an airtight lid on the soil factory. In fact, it needs to be aerobic and so air needs to get to the soil factory. A loose fitting lid can be used to keep out rain, if needed.
      2. Yes, you can use store bought soil but as it is sterilised (with no life in it) the bokashi pre-compost will take longer to break down.
      3. I’m not exactly sure which part of the process you are referring to here. If you are suggesting to drill holes in the bottom of your soil factory and allow it to drip into a larger container, then this sounds like a good idea. Too much moisture can be a problem for soil factories, so allowing it to drain can alleviate this problem.
      4. Yes, you can add the finished compost to existing pots or plant directly into it.

      Happy composting 🙂

  4. Hi!, Thank you for the good information. I have a question. I started bokashi composting with diy method using 2 buckets. And I put food scraps in there once every 2 days. After a month it’s only 3/4th full. I do check the liquid in the bottom bucket evetyime I put the food in there and the bokashi tea is very little. Am I doing something wrong. I also see white molds in the compost snd also in the tea. Am I suppose to empty the liquid/tea often? Thanks a lot

    1. The timing and amount of tea will vary depending on what you put in to the bokashi bucket. No tea (or very little tea) does not mean that the bucket has failed. Try pressing down hard on the food waste and you may be able to squeeze out any liquid from the food waste. The white mold is a good sign; these are the healthy bokashi microbes 🙂

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