If you are looking to start bokashi at home, then you have probably read about ‘bokashi tea’ or ‘bokashi leachate’. The bad news is that this isn’t a new super-healthy drink that will make you feel 50 years younger but the good news is that it is a by-product of the bokashi process and is a fabulous liquid fertilizer, and much more!
What is bokashi tea?
Bokashi tea, juice or leachate is the liquid that can be tapped from your bokashi kitchen composter. It contains a mixture of all the goodness from your bokashi kitchen composter; bokashi microbes, liquids from the food scraps and liquids produced during the fermentation process.
How can I use my bokashi tea?
- Nutrient-rich fertilizer
Bokashi tea is full of all of the beneficial bokashi microbes that help to unlock the nutrients and minerals in your soil. It can be used as a fertilizer on your indoor plants, lawns, veggies and flowers. This can be added to areas of your garden where it would be difficult to add bokashi pre-compost, such as on you lawn or in heavily planted areas.
Bokashi tea is quite acidic and therefore we recommend a dilution rate of around 1:100. You may wish to test the dilution rate on sensitive plants and you may find that less sensitive plants can tolerate a lower dilution rate. The diluted bokashi tea fertilizer should be applied to the soil as the foliage will be more sensitive to high acidity levels.
Remember bokashi tea is teeming with the beneficial bacteria. We suggest you use your bokashi tea as soon as possible after draining it from your bokashi kitchen composter so that your plants can benefit from all of the goodness in it. If left unused for more than a few hours, then the tea may start to go bad…. and smell pretty awful!
- Compost enhancer
Bokashi tea has millions of the microbes from your bokashi kitchen composter. These can be incredibly beneficial to your compost pile and can be poured directly into it. The bacteria will help to speed up the composting process in your compost pile. Adding bokashi tea is a great way to add moisture to your compost pile, if needed. Again, be sure to use fresh bokashi tea that you have just drained from your kitchen composter.
- Drain unblocker
If you can’t use your bokashi tea straight away, don’t worry. You can simply poor it down the drain. It is completely natural and will not pollute. In fact, the bokashi bacteria can help to unblock clogged drains and are beneficial to the water treatment works too.
How soon should I get bokashi tea from my indoor kitchen composter?
This will depend on the materials that you are putting in your bokashi composter, but you will typically start to get bokashi tea after a couple of days. Don’t worry if it takes longer.
How much bokashi tea should I get?
Again, this will depend on the food scraps that you are putting into your bokashi kitchen composter. If you are adding lots of juicy fruit peelings and rinds then you can expect to get more bokashi tea than if you are adding lots of dry items. On average you will likely see a couple of tablespoons every day or two at first, up to around 1-2 cups every day or two.
What to do if you are not getting any bokashi tea
The amount of bokashi tea will vary depending on the contents of your bin. Fruit peelings (with lots of liquid in them) will produce more bokashi tea than drier materials. Not getting tea, does not mean that your bokashi bucket has failed. You say that your bin smells like beer, so it sounds like everything is working fine.
If you are not getting bokashi tea, it is possible that the holes in your spigot or drain plate are clogged up. Maybe the holes in the drain plate are blocked and the tea cannot drain through to the reservoir? Tilt your bin from side to side. Do you hear any liquid slopping about? If so, its likely that the holes are blocked up. Try pressing the top of the food waste hard with the masher to squeeze the liquid out of the bottom.
Alternatively, try pressing down the sealed lid with the spigot open. This can sometimes force any tea through the spigot.
Do not add water or extra liquids to your bucket to encourage it to produce tea. Too much liquid can cause the bin to fail.
If you are not getting any bokashi tea, the best thing to do is usually to be patient. If the bin appears to be working correctly and not failed, then some tea should come eventually.