Lately readers of this blog might have followed the compost hardships of one of my blog readers, Pol from Croatia. Composting kitchen waste isn’t always easy, especially if you live in a city apartment. Bad smell, slow decomposition of the food leftovers or neighbours’ fear of rat invasions can discourage even the most enthusiastic composter.
But recently I heard of a way to turn food waste into compost without all the smelly bits. Jenny Harlen is a New Zeelander who came to Sweden and realized we hadn’t yet heard about the Bokashi method. Now she receives nominations and prizes for her work.
The technique makes compost of food waste in two steps. First, the waste (even normally difficult material such as prawn shells, minced meat and chicken’s bones) is left to ferment in an airtight kitchen container with some Bokashi bran (micro-organisms mixed with wheat bran) Next, the scraps are mixed with soil outdoors and becomes compost in just a few weeks, depending on the soil temperature. After that it’s ready to be used as plant soil.
The idea of using natural micro-organisms was developed in the late 1980:s by the Japanese professor Teruo Higa and is now used all over the world. One good thing about this technique is that there are no CO2 or methane emissions from the process.
Now the method is spreading in Sweden, and Jenny Harlen has also found ways to adapt it to our cold winters, when the ground is frozen and impossible to dig up.
According to her the amount of Bokashi powder needed to keep the compost going only costs about one Swedish kronor per day. And it doesn’t smell – not even when you put surströmming (fermented herring, which normally has an unbearable smell even when you eat it…) in the bucket, I read on her Bokashi blog.
I haven’t yet tried this method at home, but while I am still waiting for the municipal waste system to start collecting the organic waste from the block of flats where I live, maybe it would be a good alternative.