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Bokashi Smell


July 3, 2014

I’ve recently started Bokashi composting to supplement my vermicomposting. I know that I need to reduce the amount of water / moisture. I need your help to eliminate/reduce the nasty smell of the liquid that drains from the bottom of my bucket. Any ideas? Will reducing the water help? Or do I need to use more Bokashi mix? Or??


Answer by JZ: Here are some thoughts on your problem. Other colleagues may also respond.

* Avoid any liquid build up in a Bokashi setup! My thinking is that the liquid becomes a medium for anaerobic microorganisms to proliferate, thus producing methane & hydrogen sulfide gases >> odor.  Any time you add moist organics to your bucket, add something dry, e.g. shredded dry leaves, paper towel, tissue, cardboard, etc. These will absorb the moisture so that you maintain it at no more than 50%. Then no standing / draining liquid will develop.

* Be sure to mix in the Bokashi EM’s completely with each addition. A generous, heaping tablespoon per cup of organics or more should work.

* With each addition push down the top to compact the ingredients and eliminate air from it. A potato masher works well for this. Then cover the last addition with with a piece of plastic, then cover that with a stiff piece of cardboard cut to cover the whole addition. Then put a weight on top of the cardboard, for example a palm size river rock. All of this helps to eliminate air in the system.

* Save up your organics over a few days, then add them. Not a good idea to be adding stuff daily, unless you have no other choice. This overexposes the contents to more air.
Hopefully this provides some useful info to help solve your problem. Let us know if we can be of help.

Answer by RR: It sounds like you do Bokashi similar to the way I do it. Your Bokashi bucket has holes drilled in the bottom and sits in another bucket that collects the liquid. While the Bokashi system is touted as having little to no smell, this manner of doing it creates some pretty nasty odors that you do not want in your house. I keep mine in my greenhouse. The reason it smells so bad is because when the moisture drains out of the top bucket, it collects in a virtually airtight environment, which perfect for the methane and hydrogen sulfide to flourish. One way to prevent this is, as JZ does, put materials in your top bucket to absorb the moisture. Another way to minimize the smell would be to empty the bottom bucket daily, so the moisture doesn’t have as much time to ferment. As long as you are not opening the top bucket on a daily basis, separating the buckets will not introduce more air into the closed system. Lastly, you could go to a single bucket system by burying your top bucket in a few inches into well-drained soil. That way the liquid simply drains into ground.

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