Bokashi, Adding Meat and Bones
December 21, 2021
I have been researching Bokashi composting to support my home sustainable composting for kitchen scraps, etc. My question is whether meat and bones should be added to the bucket and bran layers to ferment. I was reading that this is okay but wonder how meat and bones would break down and how this would impact smell and rotting materials. Also, when adding to the garden soil, would animals be attracted to the area with the bones. Thoughts on Bokashi method? Thanks for any suggestions you may have.
Answer by RR: Thanks for your question. Others may also respond.
Meat and bones were once living material, so they will decompose, though maybe not in our lifetimes for part of the bones. The Bokashi bran and the fact that the bucket is sealed eliminates the smell of the meat while it is in the first stage of fermenting. Once the first stage is complete, and you bury it in the ground, the fermentation stops and decomposition begins. This is where the smell could begin, but by burying it 12-18″ deep, as we recommend, and covering it with soil and mulch, you’ll never smell it, and it should prevent varmints from being a problem – I’ve never had a problem. The meat will decompose, and while most of the bone will stick around for a long time, it creates airspaces in the soil, which facilitates movement for moisture and aerobic microbes.
Something to consider: I am a big believer in the “Everything in Moderation” mantra. That is what I follow when I add meat, bones, cheese, oils, dairy to my Bokashi. And because they are harder to break down than other organic materials, you should add additional Bokashi bran in any batch you add to your bucket. The recommended amount is 1 Tbsp per cup of organic matter, which also translates to 1 cup of bran per gallon of organic matter. When you add meat and bones, sprinkle some additional bran in there – more is better than less. If it has a foul smell when you open it to make an addition, that’s an indication that you didn’t use enough bran.
Lastly, if you have a little time on your hands, I’ve found Adam Footer’s Bokashi Composting the absolute best reference for this process. It’s a quick and easy read, and I find myself going back to look things up regularly.
Answer by MR: I support all of RR’s advice and cautions. I would simply add that I’ve found putting bones through a second round of fermenting will often accelerate the softening process, which then results in a much faster decomposition when they are finally incorporated into the soil. I’ve also never had animals dig up my bucket contents–even those with meat–when I’ve buried them. And I live in a fairly wild part of the South Valley, with lots of coyotes, raccoons, skunks, and smaller burrowing wildlife. Just be sure to let the contents finish the fermenting process thoroughly. The worms will love you for it. Thanks for good questions.
Answer by JZ: Nifty answers from my colleagues. FYI. We have a Bokashi class coming up. You would be welcome to register, attend and share your experiences with the Bokashi method. This and all of our classes are listed on our website.