A while ago I wrote a post about Bokashi, a system of pre-composting in which you add specially treated bran to your kitchen waste so that it will all break down more quickly.
After a dedicated 6 months worth of experimentation, I have two main findings.
The first is that it works, which is great news. You can more or less Bokashi anything that has lived – meat, fish, tea bags, vegetable scraps, the lot. It all breaks down quickly in the bin, then degenerates into the black gold that is home-made compost when you tip it onto the heap. So far, so good.
Incidentally, you do have to follow the instructions. Don’t skimp on the proper bins, because it’s supposed to be an anaerobic process so you need a tight fitting lid. Believe the bit about how it won’t work with citrus peel or onion skins. I was bunging them in anyway for a while, but they resolutely refused to play, so ultimately they bypassed the Bokashi and went straight on the compost heap.
The second finding is that it is rather a gungy process. The bin smells of sweet vinegar which permeates the kitchen and a lot of liquid is produced. You can tap this off and use it for house plants, which sounds fabulous when you first read it, one of those lovely permaculturist ‘everybody wins’ situations. However it’s highly unlikely you have enough plants in your house to benefit from all this liquid, bearing in mind you have to dilute it with 99 parts water. The inevitable result is that you don’t tap the liquid off nearly often enough. The inevitable result of this, is that you end up with your carefully layered Bokashi marinading in its own juices, and consequently you don’t empty it very often. Frankly, you’d rather spend half an hour practising self-dentistry with a pair of rusty pliers (or watch Britain’s got talent) than heave a gigantic bran lasagne out of a bucket, dripping vinegary slime onto your slippers whilst the neighbours gawk at you from first floor windows with utter incredulity. Again.
Perhaps I wasn’t using enough bran, but the fact that you have to buy it in the first place seems to me rather unfair. If I chuck my rubbish straight into landfill it costs me nothing. If I make an effort to save a cubic foot of Chinese dirt being flung into obscurity so that a black plastic bag of mine can putrefy in its place for a few millennia, I end up ankle deep in nausea-inducing bransagne. And I’ve paid 8 quid for the privilege.
In conclusion, I’ve gone back to good old composting. I suspect that if you have to buy some kind of gadget/stuff at great expense in pursuit of greeness, it probably ain’t worth it.