My Bokashi Compost Bucket One Month Later

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©. Margaret Badore

Last month, I started composting in my apartment, with some help from The Compostess herself, Rebecca Louie. I opted for an anaerobic bokashi fermenting system, because it can handle a lot of different types of food waste, from dairy to condiments. I promised updates, so here’s how it’s going so far.

Meet my bucket. It lives in the closet.

Apartment compost

© Margaret Badore. Top: Bucket with food scraps and Bokashi bran. Middle: Plastic bag to decrease air exposure. Bottom: Bucket with lid—no smell here! Before the bucket, I collected my food scraps into a paper bag that I keep in the freezer, and took them to the weekly commuter drop-off run by the NYC Compost Project. I still use a paper bag to collect my scraps, but now when it’s full I add a layer to the bucket. That way, I avoid opening the bucket every time I have a little scrap, since that messes with the airless processes that are happening in there.

As some commenters on my initial post observed, bokashi does smell. The odor is something like sour milk mixed with vinegar. But you can only smell it when the lid is off the bucket, and since I want to minimize how much air the scraps are exposed to anyway, that’s usually not longer than a minute once every week or so. After sprinkling on the bokashi bran, it’s good to cover the scraps up with a plastic bag and squish out as much air as possible.

The smell is really the only con. It’s actually much less work than hauling scraps out to the neighborhood collection area, on the designated time and day. I imagine this will be an even bigger plus when the weather gets worse.

Although I have not had the occasion to add any sort of meat or dairy (which the NYC Compost Project doesn’t accept), it’s nice to know I have the option. After all, meat waste is the worst, as TreeHugger Derek recently wrote. I’ve also realized that another advantage of the bucket approach to composting over traditional outdoor bins (which I don’t have access to anyway), is that I don’t have to worry about pests or critters at all.

Technically, you could say I’ve yet to start “composting” since this step in the process is still fermentation. Eventually, I’ll mix the contents of my bucket with soil and the whole thing will make more soil through a process that’s basically microbial magic.