Microbe Solutions Ireland - Bokashi Composting

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EM Bokashi Composting

Compact and odourless composting system

EM Bokashi (a Japanese word meaning "fermented organic matter") composting turns your kitchen waste into wonderful fertiliser and soil conditioner. This composting system using Bokashi (EM-fermented bran) and special buckets is simple and compact and creates no odour-related problems of rodents or flies. The system has been successfully incorporated into the waste management schemes in some cities in Japan and New Zealand.

This system of odourless composting, using EM bokashi and specially designed buckets to ferment organic kitchen waste takes about 2 weeks. You are left with nutrient- and microbe-rich compost ready to use on your house plants, garden or lawn. The system allows you to compost all kinds of organic waste including meat, fish and dairy products. The process also releases a large amount of liquid from the waste. This liquid is rich in nutrients and microbes and can be used as liquid fertiliser or drain cleaner.

When applied to kitchen waste, EM bokashi ensures that fermentation takes place. The fermentation process, (similar to pickling vegetables) lets microbes grow on the sugars in the waste and produces enzymes, vitamins, growth hormones, amino acids and antioxidants. These are essential foods for plants and become available to them when the compost is dug into the soil.

EM is an abbreviation for Effective Micro-organisms. EM contains natural beneficial microbes such as phototrophic and lactic acid bacteria and yeasts. There are no genetically modified organisms in EM.

What you can compost:

  • Fruits & Vegetables
  • Meat
  • Dairy products
  • Cooked food
  • Tea bags, coffee grounds
  • Garden waste (dead flowers, grass cuttings, weeds etc)

What you can not compost:

  • Glass
  • Plastic
  • Aluminium
  • Metal
  • Tobacco ash

BENEFITS of EM Bokashi Composting are:

  • No foul odour
  • No fruit flies
  • Very short time to compost
  • Small and compact space required
  • All organic materials (fresh and cooked) can be composted including vegetable, fruits, meat, fish, etc.
  • Enhancement of plant health and productivity
  • Improvement of soil quality
  • Suppression of pathogens and pollutants in soil
  • Release of no toxic gases to environment

How to make EM Bokashi Compost

Bokashi prefabricated composting kit:
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for products & pricing information
Bokashi repurposed composting kit:
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for products & pricing information
  • 1. Cut up kitchen waste into small pieces and put in a perforated container to drain.
  • 2. Spread a small amount of bokashi over the bottom of the EM compost bucket.
  • 3. Put a layer of kitchen waste into the bucket and sprinkle approximately half a cupful of bokashi over the waste.
  • 4. Press the material down lightly using a flat plate. The plate can be left on top of the compost.
  • 5. Close the lid of the bucket tightly.
  • 6. Continue to add kitchen waste and bokashi in layers until the bucket is full.
  • 7. Draw off the liquid that is collected from the base of the bucket. The liquid can be used as a plant feed or drain cleaner (see below).
  • 8. Leave the contents of the bucket to ferment for at least two weeks. The compost is ready to use when it has a sweet/sour smell.
  • 9. The compost is best dug directly into the soil. If putting in a compost bin, wrap well with newspaper or cover with soil.

    How to use EM Bokashi Compost

    After two weeks of fermentation, the compost is ready to be dug into soil. The compost at this stage does not look decomposed. If it smells sweet and sour, it is ready. The fermented compost should be dug into soil in a trench or between plants.

    If the smell has become acrid, pungent or offensive, putrifactive bacteria may be present and the waste is rotting slightly. However, it should not smell as bad as rotting food. Should this happen, it is best buried in a trench as below with a few handfuls of bokashi.

    Sometimes, moulds grow on the waste. White moulds are normal and a good sign that the compost is working well.

    Note: the bokashi compost must be kept anaerobic and cannot be used as a top dressing as it will putrify in the presence of oxygen.


    1. Dig your trench 20-30cm deep.

    2. Put compost in the trench and mix well with soil. (A 1:100 solution of activated EM can be sprayed on to speed up the process.)

    3. Cover with soil and press down firmly. Seeds and young plants can be sown 2-4 weeks after digging in the compost.

    Planting young seedlings:

    1. Make a trench or make holes for seedlings and compost. Seedlings should be spaced 50cm apart and a little compost dug in between seedlings.

    2. Cover with soil and press down firmly.

    Liquid from EM Bokashi Compost

    The fermentation process with EM releases a lot of liquid from the waste. This collects at the bottom of the bucket and should be drained off daily. This liquid is rich in nutrients and microbes. It is a great plant liquid feed and drain cleaner.

    As plant feed: Water your plants and flowers with 1 part bokashi compost liquid to 500 parts water.

    As drain cleaner: Pour undiluted bokashi compost liquid into toilets, sinks and drains to help unblock and reduce odours.

    To improve pond water quality: Undiluted liquid can be poured into pond to improve water quality. Allow 1 litre of bokashi compost liquid to every 10,000 litres of water in pond.

    Note: the liquid must be used immediately before harmful bacteria enter and affect the quality.