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diy bokashi bucket composting

Happy Monday! This coming Sunday is Earth Day so this week will feature earth friendly posts. Today I'm sharing my latest eco venture—Bokashi composting.

why bokashi composting?

No smell. Does not attract insects. Low maintenance. Quick and convenient. Small scale. Bokashi creates a liquid that is steroids for house & yard plants (called bokashi tea). You can ferment ANYTHING, including meat and dairy, dead leaves, paper, etc. Did I mention no smell???

Bokashi mix is also great for eliminating the stink in kitty litter boxes AND you could make an outdoor bin for dog doo doo if you'd like a better way to discard dog waste (do not use this as compost for edible plants).

what is bokashi?

Originating in Japan, bokashi is perfect for urban dwellers with little space because it can be kept indoors. The bokashi mix contains effective microorganisms (EM) that ferment the food, as opposed to letting food decompose. If you are interested in learning more about the biology in layman terms, this is a good read. I purchased my bokashi mixture from this local store for $12. It is also available online or you can make your own bokashi if you are really hard core.

step by step of using bokashi

Here is what composting looks like for me. Once the bucket is made (directions below), you throw in a few handfuls of bokashi and then start a layer of food.

Every time food is added another handful of bokashi is thrown on top, then I use plastic bag to keep it airtight before adding the bucket lid.

I only add scraps every 2-3 days, so in the mean time I collect food in a plastic container that is stored in the freezer.

Once the entire bucket is full (which has only taken me about one month!) it is sealed for two weeks. Note: Because there is this two week gap, we are probably going to make a second bucket. After this point the pickled food will need work (or maybe you can hand off to a gardner you know). Bokashi bucket contents need to be buried underground for 2-4 weeks in order to become actual compost. Once I complete this step I'll update the post about my experience.

diy bokashi bucket

TOOLS // Electric drill.
SUPPLIES // Two 5-gallon buckets (or large tupperware or kitty litter buckets), screen cut to fit bucket, bucket lid, and bokashi mix.

Optional: Spigot, O-rings, and a connecting side.

Take one bucket and drill holes in the bottom for drainage.

The spigot goes on the bucket without holes and was slightly complicated. And I'm not sure it's necessary. Once we drilled a hole for the spigot and screwed it into the connecting side, we still had to use calking to seal it for leaks. Do over, I'd skip this. We have yet to accumulate enough "bokashi tea" to use the spigot. Instead, you could lift up the inside bucket every 3-4 days and dump out the tea that has accumulated.

Once finished you have: outside bucket with or w/o spigot, inside holy bucket containing the screen, and then a lid. Rough cost estimate: Buckets $3 ea, used screen free, lid $3, spigot + rings + connector $7, bokashi mix $12, totaling $28. You can also purchase pre-made bucket sets for around $60.

bokashi wrap up

All this may sound really complicated but I promise it is not bad at all. This post is long because I wanted to give a general overview of this composting method. So far I really like using bokashi and it's been really convenient. Feel free to ask any questions about getting started, I am no professional but feel somewhat knowledgeable!

Happy heart the earth week!

Resources used for DIY: Bokashi Blog, Just Like My Nan Made, Lulu-Lenore

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References (3)

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Reader Comments (12)

Cool! Learned something new :) You should try worms in the next bucket ;) Have a race...see which bin wins!

April 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercolleen

Hi - I just came across your site, and what a treasure. It's beautiful! This is a great write up of Bokashi too - I love it!

I'm wondering if you can help me. I'm looking to put up a few pages sharing different peoples experiences with Bokashi composting, such as this one by Jenny: http://www.bokashicompostinghq.com/projects/jenny/ . I'd love to spread the word about Bokashi, and to make the process more accessible to people.

It'd be great if you're able to help out. I'd just be looking for an image and a few words or tips. I'll check back here for a reply, or you can use the contact form on my site.

Right, now to explore your blog!!


April 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGraham

Lovely DIY article, really handy if someone doesn't want to pay a lot for the original bokashi!

April 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

I think I'm going to have to ive Bokashi a try. Even looking up the homemade culture it still looks doable. Especially since I'm kind of impatient with traditional composting in my backyard.

Thanks for the super easy DIY!
Found you via the reader appreciation hop at Oh Hello Friend.


May 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBernadette

Hi! I've been looking for good (read: attractive, simple, straightforward) DIY bokashi bucket instructions, and that's exactly what you have here! Interesting to hear you found the spigot unnecessary. MOST interesting-- that beautiful blue bucket! Where did you get one in such an attractive color?

Thanks so much for making this!


January 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLily

@Lily Thanks so much for your kind words! I would add that in hot weather you need to empty the bottom bucket very often. Being my test run (this post) was early in the season, it was creating FAR less liquid then later in the summer. The blue bucket was from Lowes! I think they were seasonal with a few different pastel color options. Hope that helps!

January 31, 2013 | Registered CommenterAmanda Joy

Lovely, clear site, Amanda. I have started a small blog on composting. I am finding out all about it, after just tossing my waste into a compost bin for years and not doing much about it. I am finding It a fascinating world. I do want to try all these systems that I am learning about, (about to start a worm farm) and reading your blog has convinced me that I need a Bokashi bucket. Just one thing, though. What is the fitted screen for? I can't quite see where it fits in and what it is for.
Would you mind if I linked my blog to your site?
Many thanks, Barbara.

February 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara Moss

Awesome! Prettiest bokashi bucket ever. Very clear and concise instructions. Well done.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCardioprimadona

Where do you buy the bokashi bran? Thanks, Mike

August 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike W

@Mike W Hi Mike, I buy the bran from Amazon online. Hope that helps!

// Amanda

August 19, 2013 | Registered CommenterAmanda Joy

I just found this post and am very excited to make my own set. Thank you for posting.

I had one question about the screen, I am assuming it goes in the bottom of the white bucket with holes?

Thanks again

June 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLisa F.

What about flies and such in the compost? What is in the stuff you sprinkle on top? Do we need to add that?

June 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSusanna Sheppard

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