Before you start bokashi composting, it’s useful to understand why bokashi is so beneficial for your plants and gardens. This starts with knowing what makes a healthy soil structure, how it affects your plant roots, and where bokashi fits into it all.
Armed with this knowledge, our hope is that you will be motivated to bokashi compost on an ongoing basis. In doing so, you are creating better soil in your garden. Soil that is healthy, live, organic, and ideal for plant health and vitality.
What is healthy soil structure?
In a nutshell, healthy soil is soil that is full of life, and plenty of organic matter for that life to feed off. This life consists of macrobes and microbes. Macrobes are the visible life, think worms and bugs and such. Microbes are the invisible life, consisting of bacterias, yeasts and fungi. These living organisms form the soil web, each contributing in its own special way to the success of them all. But, as with most life on earth, it’s the smallest creatures at the bottom of the food chain that are the key ones. And in the soil’s case, these key creatures are the microbes. Healthy soil begins with microbes. If soil has plenty of them, the rest of the life will happily come and join them.
How do plants feed themselves?
This process might surprise you. Soil biologists have recently discovered what is perhaps the most amazing symbiotic relationship in nature. And that is the relationship between plant roots and microbes.
Until recently, plant roots were considered to be a one way highway – where water and nutrients are simply directed upwards through the plant roots. But this is not at all the case. Modern soil biologists have determined that plant roots are actually a two way system. In fact, plants send almost 40% of their energy down into their roots. This energy is released, all around the root zone, in the form of sugary carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are called exudates. These exudates have the specific purpose of attracting microbes to the plants roots. A healthy plant, in healthy soil, will have microbes thriving all around its root zone. And it is these microbes, through their digesting of the minerals and nutrients from the soil, that actually feed the plants.
This is the symbiotic relationship: plants feed the microbes, and in turn the microbes feed the plants. This is nature’s natural process and has been refined and perfected over millennia. As a result, if the soil is lacking in microbes, then the plants will necessarily suffer too.
Lately, we’ve gotten off track from this natural process. Industrial farming techniques have made it into the home garden, in the form of store bought chemical and synthetic fertilizers. These products are attractively labeled, and heavily promoted by the companies behind them. And yes, they do feed plants. But, because they are sulfate (salt) based, they actually serve to kill off the soil microbes, destroying the healthy soil structure that our plants need and prefer. (The runoff from the global over-use of these fertilizers is creating its own set of problems too.)
Simply put, using these chemical fertilizers in the garden effectively creates dead soil, resulting in plants that become dependent on more and more of these fertilizers simply to survive. This is a dangerous and unnecessary cycle. And, if you grow vegetables to eat, also increasingly considered an unhealthy one.
What is bokashi composting?
Bokashi composting is simply a process of using your valuable food waste to generate garden friendly microbes, yeast, and fungi (all of which are contained in a dormant state within the Bokashi bran). These microbes come alive and multiply when they are added to your food waste. When the bokashi’d food waste (pre-compost) is dug into your garden these garden-friendly microbes immediately benefit the soil structure and plants living in it.
As a home owner, Bokashi is your ideal tool for creating microbe rich compost. Above all, adding quality compost to our soils is perhaps the only task we really need to focus on as gardeners. If we do that, then the microbes in our soil will thrive, resulting in plants that develop stronger root structures, and have better growth, nutrition and resistance to pests and disease.
The key to the Bokashi process is fermentation. In using the Bokashi bin, you are in effect rapidly fermenting your food waste, and in doing so converting it to a microbe rich format that becomes extremely accessible to your soil ecology and plant roots. In just two weeks after burying your fermented food waste in your garden, it will be assimilated into the surrounding soil web, where it will benefit everything from microbes to macrobes, and in turn the plants themselves. The more you do this, the better and more natural your garden will become.