Composting

So it’s been a while since my last blog post. You don’t need to hear my excuses. You want to read about composting!

When we had an allotment we used to compost everything. However, moving house a few years back disrupted things and we struggled to get back into the habbit. We’ve managed to move to the windiest corner of North Yorkshire and no matter what I tried to secure our black darleks down with, they would just blow away.

Our long term plan is to reorganise the garden to produce more of our own food. This is waiting on some time and finances so a short term solution was needed.

Reasons to Compost

1) It reduces your landfill massively. I can’t believe how much the volume and weight of our kitchen bin has gone down since we found a composting solution.

2) Once you remove the organic matter from a bin, the rest is pretty dry so do you really need a bin bag? This is an idea that I came upon just recently and I need to check with our council that they would empty my bin with loose rubbish.

3) If you can produce compost you don’t need to buy it. This saves money and the associated plastic packaging.

How to Compost

There is loads of advice online about how to compost but it still seems like a mysterious art. Compost needs to be just the right moisture level. Too dry and nothing rots properly. Too wet and you end up with a stagnant heap. Not too much straw, not too much grass cuttings, uncooked plant food waste only; it gets restrictive. Keen to get started, Child-monster and I cobbled together a container from some old bits of wood we had lying around. However, it was far too small and quickly filled up after cleaning out the hens a few times. The gardening course I’m currently on suggests turning compost monthly.

So I looked for a new solution and stumbled across Bokashi Composting.

Bokashi Composting

Bokashi composting is an anaerobic process that ferments the waste and helps it to break down more quickly. The major benefit is that all food waste can be treated. As a mainly vegetarian house I have to say we haven’t really experimented with a lot of bones and skin though.

To get started you need two buckets. You can purchase purpose built Bokashi bins (I did) or you can make your own. Google it for a tutorial. You fill up one bucket with your kitchen waste, sprinkling a scoop full of Bokashi Bran over every day. Once the bucket is full you seal it up and leave it for two weeks. During this time you fill your other bucket which is why you need two.

Our Bokashi Bins sit on our freezer in the utility room. One is filling while the other is full and sealed for two weeks.

Whilst sealed the waste ferments. A liquid is produced which needs to be drawn off so a bucket with a tap is most convenient. The liquid is awesome plant food and several old orchids we have round the house have flowered since we started using it.

The contents of the bin emptied into one of our flower beds. It will be buried and left to continue breaking down.

After two weeks, the contents of the bucket is emptied into a hole in one of our flower beds.  Alternatively it can be added to a regular compost heap. I find it takes about three weeks for most of the waste to break down. We then rinse the bucket and start again.

On the plus side, I find this system very convenient. It doesn’t smell, doesn’t involve trudging down the garden every day and everything can go in it, from leftover cereal to onion skin.

Downsides: This is the start of a composting process and you need somewhere for the waste to continue breaking down. If you have no outdoor space this is probably not going to be a great choice for you. You also need somewhere to store the buckets. They’re not huge but they do take up space. Finally, the bran is an expense that you don’t have in a traditional compost heap. Four months on we’re still on our first 1kg sack. In future I’ll be purchasing from Wiggly Wigglers as their packaging is plastic free.

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