Bokashi for people with small courtyards

A few weeks ago I did the rounds to see my parents. No small thing considering my mum lives in Sydney and my dad lives in Auckland. And I am living here in Sweden…

Given that both places are Bokashi hotspots I would have loved to have spent some time sticking my nose into things there. having a bit of a chat with people and seeing what’s going on. But it just wasn’t that sort of trip so the study visit will have to be saved for another time.

One small thing I did do while I was with my mum in Sydney was help her get restarted with Bokashi in her small courtyard garden. (That’s it in the picture above. Cute. But very small…). In true nerd fashion I got her started on Bokashi composting 3 or 4 years ago and she liked it a lot. Not having much space though it made most sense to use the same hole each time to dig down the fermented contents of the bin (my brother got that job :-)). She scooped out the ready soil from the Bokashi hole in advance, worms and all, spread it in good spots in the garden, then the new bucket went into the same spot. Worked brilliantly in a warm climate like Sydney.

But the thing is now her arthritis means she’s having trouble with the indoor bins. Too hard to open and close. So we decided to give those away to some neighbors and do the whole thing directly in the courtyard.

Step one, I walked down to the local hardware store and bought a biggish bucket. It didn’t have a lid so I picked up a planter tray roughly the same size that could sit on top of the bucket. I asked the guys in the shop if they wouldn’t mind sawing off the bottom of the bucket for me. Obviously they thought I was nuts but it was really no problem.

Step two, we sort of screwed the bucket down into a spare spot in the little garden, hidden behind a fern. We put the planter tray on top and plonked the nearest heavy thing on top to keep it in place. Ta dah…!

What she does now is to toss her food scraps each day directly into the bucket. A sprinkle of Bokashi bran, lid back on and that’s it. No clumsy lids to open and close and no buckets underfoot in the kitchen.

I’m not saying this is the perfect solution but it seems to be working fine and is a good compromise if you want to get many of the benefits of a full Bokashi system without going all the way. The trick is to throw in a handful of soil now and then, or some dry leaves, to trigger it along.

The bucket we bought was really not that big and filled up in a few weeks so she’s doing another one in another spare spot in the garden. Between the two buckets she should be able to deal with most of the scraps she produces.

And given that her soil is hopelessly sandy this should make all the difference. The worms at least seem to be extremely happy!

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12 responses to “Bokashi for people with small courtyards

  1. Hi Jenny,
    I use a plant pot without a base on it in my garden as it is a small area. I’ve been doing this for 2 and a half years. I do collect my food waste in a bokashi bin then put it in the pot without a base in the garden. I don’t put a lid on the pot in the garden, just put some soil on top of the food waste and I end up with great soil which my plants love as my soil is actually desert sand.
    I recommend this method as I’ve never had any trouble with it and it is so easy.

    • Good to hear Janine! You’ve at least got heat on your side! Although actually I suspect this would work rather well as an outdoor storage option for us coldies.
      Anyone else tried something similar? All ideas much appreciated!
      /Jenny
      ps Happy New Year to you gals in Dubai, you’re doing such a great job!

  2. Interesting idea – great to see that you’ve found a way to carry on using Bokashi. I’ve not tried it myself, but I reckon even in colder climates this approach will be just fine.

    The first step of the Bokashi process is more of a pickling/fermentation process than anything else, so shouldn’t be too adversely affected by the cold. I guess the final stage of decomposing the waste to form compost will take a bit longer, but I can’t imagine it being too bad.

    Let us know how it goes – I’d be interested to find out.

    Graham

    • Hi Graham! It’s an experiment after all but my mum’s garden is in Sydney and they have pretty warm weather consistently there. I wouldn’t bother trying it here in Sweden apart from mid-summer, but a similar construction would work well with ready fermented Bokashi I imagine. A great form of winter storage for us here in the north!
      Seems to work really well for Janine in Dubai. Any others out there who have tested something similar? The more we can put our heads together the better!!
      /Jenny

  3. “Given that both places are Bokashi hotspots ” wow, really? I live in Auckland and have only recently discovered it, guess I haven’t been reading the right blogs and web sites. Though as I typed that I’ve remembered that I did hear about it 3-4 years ago but didn’t find out anything about it. I’ve just started my very first batch, fingers crossed it’s as easy as it sounds.

    Anna

    • Hi Anna! Yeah, it’s strange isn’t it? We kiwis don’t expect Auckland to be a global hotspot for anything but check out google trends here:

      http://www.google.com/trends/?q=bokashi

      Auckland is right up there along with most of the Australian cities. Probably it just means we write more about what we’re doing in our daily life! The huge number of hits on the Indonesian language chart are, I think, due to “bokashi” also having some other meaning in Indonesian. But don’t quote me on that!
      All the same, we’ve got a long, long way to go whatever city we’re in. The more of us, like you, get stuck in and do something about making it happen in real life the sooner the planet is going to feel a little bit better. The think I really like about Bokashi is that you don’t have to try to change the world, you just deal with your waste one bucket at a time. Each bucket you dig down is a micro carbon sink and if we all did it — well! It would make a difference!
      Good luck! And just ask if there’s anything you’re wondering about. We have a lot of pros here amongst our readers!!
      /Jenny

  4. Hi all,

    Over at http://www.bokashicompostinghq.com I’m planning on doing a series of really short posts about different people using Bokashi all over the world. I want to get across how simple, effective, and brilliant Bokashi is, to try and encourage others to give it a go. I would love it if you’d be up for getting involved.

    A big sticking point for people can be that they don’t realise how easy and useful it can be, so just showing how YOU use YOUR Bokashi system would be awesome.

    All I’d need would be an image or two of your Bokashi bin (or your mums Jenny!), and a few words about why/how you use Bokashi. You certainly don’t need to be an expert for this. I’d love to get a huge range of people involved – from beginners to pros.

    If you’d like to help spread the word and are keen to help could you let me know by either leaving a comment on here (sorry if this is hijacking your page Jenny!) or use the contact form at bokashi composting hq?

    Thankyou

    Graham

    • No worries Graham, the more we work together the better. Together we can make a difference.
      Feel free to lift the pics from my blog post (always nice if they’re credited), you may find a few good examples from round the world if you trawl back through some of the older entries here. Hopefully you’ll get in all sorts of nice fresh stories, the more variety the better. There are so many different ways of approaching Bokashi and I’m sure the best is yet to be invented.
      By the way, where are you located? US, England or somewhere else?
      All the best,
      Jenny

  5. Hi Jenny – sorry it’s taken so long to sort this out. I’ve put a short page up at http://www.bokashicompostinghq.com/projects/jenny. Could you take a look and let me know if you’d like to to add/remove/change anything?

    I’m planning on putting links to the page on the main site at the weekend, so if I don’t hear anything before then I’ll assume that you’re happy for me to do that!

    Cheers

    Graham

    PS I’m based in England

  6. Now, after reading almost all of your posts from when you started writing, I found what I was looking for.
    I have the same problem that I don’t like opening the too tight lids – and I always forgot to check the liquid in the buckets….
    I would love to install a system like this in my garden.
    I assume it has to be in the shade? Wouldn’t it be better to just drill holes into the bottom of the bucket, so rats and mice can’t get to it?

    • Hi there Heike! Nice to hear from a kiwi! I think the best answer is just to test this and that till you find what works best for just you. I can’t see you’d need to worry too much about it being in the shade, a bit of sun is good for most of the year to keep the process ticking nice and fast. Maybe a spot that’s a bit shady during the heat of the day in summer? (where do you live, north or south?)
      Drilled holes would of course be smarter to keep pests out but it makes the bin harder to empty. An alternative would be to put a grid/net under a bottomless barrel that would keep the guys out but still make it easy to move the barrel to a new spot. (On the other hand, it’s not that hard to tip it up and empty it of all your fantastic new soil if you want to move it.) The worms will get in either way.
      Love to hear what you end up doing! There really are no hard and fast answers to all this, my own motto is the easier the better!
      Good luck!
      /Jenny

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