One way to compost indoors without worms is to do bokashi composting. It is a method of fermenting food waste without the loss of nutritional value. As bokashi compost ferments in an anaerobic environment, the foul smell will be significantly reduced.
The done compost will have a slight sour smell like that of pickles. Additionally, this method takes around 2-6 weeks to turn food waste into usable soil. Compared to the traditional compost methods, this is relatively much faster.
Let's see some ideas below!
The Basis of Bokashi
Bokashi is an ancient Japanese composting method that has been practiced for hundreds of years. The word bokashi means fading away or fermenting, which also reflects the process of composting, i.e. the "fading away" of food waste into soil.
The basis of this method is to utilize the synergy of several beneficial microorganisms or EM (effective microorganisms) to help break down organic matter faster and reduce odor. That's why you'll often hear EM and Bokashi go hand in hand together.
This EM is the key. You can buy store-bought solutions or make your own at home. Fortunately, it is relatively cheap and easy to make. Many people make their own EM because it yields good results and they can keep some to multiply for more uses.
With this understanding in mind, let's see apply this method to indoor composting (without the worms):
Step 1: Make the EM
To make your own EM, you can use fermented rice wash or the whey of yogurt making process. This liquid contains LAB (lactic acid bacteria) like Lactobacillus which does a fantastic job at breaking down organic matter and releases the nutrients.
Way #1 - Rice Wash (~ 7 Days, No Electricity Needed)
Firstly, rinse some rice in non-chlorine water (as the chlorine usually kills off the LAB). White or brown rice is fine for the job.
Then, put the rice wash into a jar with a breathable cloth. Optionally, you can sprinkle in some minerals like sea salt or sugars. These are the foods for our little pet microbes. They will feed on these and get the energy to multiply.
Let the jar sit in a warm dark place for about 3-7 days depending on how hot it is in your local area. Then, you can harvest the liquid to use for your compost.
You can either use this homemade EM to spray directly or spray it on a carrier like newspaper, wheat bran, rice bran, oatmeal, soybean meal to store in a dry form.
Way #2 - Yogurt Whey (~1 Night, Some Electricity Needed)
- Heat 1 gallon of milk up to 83C (180F) for 10-30 minutes
- Reduce it to 43C (110F) and add some yogurt starter
- Keep the batch warm at 43C for the next 7+ hours
- Extract out the liquid whey (the EM we want)
Step 2: Make the Bokashi Composting Bucket
There are only 3 steps to make your own DIY bokashi bucket. The things needed are:
- 5-gallon bucket / 18-20L paint bucket
- Water valve
Step 1: Mark the valve size on the bucket
Step 2: Cut out the opening hole for the valve
Step 3: Plug the valve in
It takes around 20-30 minutes to get done. The cost is only around $5. With this cheap, easy-to-make bucket you can dump in your food waste little by little every day.
The reason we make the valve is to collect the bokashi juice (the compost juice) that leaches out from the waste.
Inside the bucket, remember to put a strainer so the solid waste doesn't sit soaked in the liquid leachate. This is to prevent the bad smell.
And with your EM & bucket done, you're ready to compost your food waste indoors every day with little offensive smell and mess.
In the last step, all you gotta do is:
Step 3: Dump Your Food Waste In
Remember to smash it down to squeeze out any air inside.
Like a lasagna, you can sprinkle in the EM layer by layer. That is, a layer of food waste then a layer of EM. And voila, you're basically done.
This bokashi content may be take about 2 weeks or more to get done. At this point, some folks dump it out to bury in their garden beds or trenches.
After about 4 weeks more, this stuff should break down into nice, earthy soil that is ready for use for planting flowers or veggies.
Have fun with composting!
If you like bokashi composting, you may like:
Happy exploring biology!
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