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A Bokashi Bean Trench

By Heather 11 years ago

Bean trenches are one of those traditional garden techniques that seem to have lost a bit of favour. The idea is that you dig a trench, line it with newspaper, fill it with your kitchen waste, before covering with soil and planting your beans - so adding lots of fertility and moisture-retention to the soil. Sounds like a good idea but a bit of hard work though, especially as some gardeners recommend starting in the autumn and filling it throughout the winter.

I've decided to try a quick fix with the contents of my Bokashi bin. The fermented kitchen waste is absolutely packed full of nutrients and micro-organisms, or EMs (Effective Micro-organisms) will rot down quickly and hopefully form the perfect growing medium for my heritage seed swapped bean seeds.

How to deal with your kitchen waste with Bokashi

By Heather 11 years ago

New videos are here at The Wiggly Cinema (which also works on your iPhone)

The Big Bokashi-thon

By Heather 11 years ago

We are always being asked what to do with Bokashi Compost when it has finished pickling and how long it then takes to break down. This is a bit like one of those ‘How long is a piece of string?’ questions, but in a spirit of scientific exploration we decided to set up an experiment to find out.

First of all, don your white lab coat and the nerdy scientist’s specs, and pick up your clipboard. Now you can start the experiment...

When your bin is full, drain off any Bokashi Juice and feed to your plants or smelly drains (you might want to measure the quantity).

Seal your bokashi bin and leave it to ferment. Drain off any liquid in this time.

After 2 weeks it’s ready! Open it up and have a look. Is there any mould, if so what colour is it?
Now decide on your next step, here are some ideas:

  • Put it in your wormery (perhaps just half of the bin or less if your worms aren’t used to it.)

  • Put in your compost bin or heap (will you mix it in spread it in layers or just up-end the bucket, no doubt losing the sump at the same time – well that’s what happens with mine!)

  • Dig it into your garden. Again you can experiment with depths (although at least deep is recommended), layering or mixing it in).

Now it’s up to you to check it monthly, or more often and see what happens. Let us know your results.

Now if this was a really truly scientific experiment, we’d have weighed and noted the exact contents of the kitchen waste we were putting in to begin with, not to mention the amount of Bokashi Active Bran added as well. We’d probably record the air temperature where we left it to ferment, and for sure, we’d make sure we had a control bucket too, full of un-Bokashi’d waste.

We haven’t, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t.
Here are some sites that you might want to take a look at to see how other people's experiments are going: The Wiggly Wigglers Facebook Group

Simon Sherlock’s blog

Podchef’s blog

Composting for Beginners

By Heather 12 years ago

A question often asked is, "Why compost at all?" Well, the answer is simple. Over 50% of household waste is organic matter from our gardens and kitchens. If sent to landfill this organic waste gets buried under all the other waste and isn't exposed to air resulting in methane production which is harmful to the environment. It is also a missed opportunity to recycle waste into valuable garden compost.

Depending on the amount of space you have and the type of waste you need to compost there are several different options open to you. Even if you only have the tiniest space, such as a balcony, there is a solution.

If you have outdoor space and generate garden waste, you really need a compost heap. You can buy (or make) various containers from box style composters with slatted fronts to moulded plastic bins which all effectively operate in the same way. Fresh waste is added at the top and composted material retrieved from the bottom.

With an outdoor heap you can add both garden and kitchen waste and you should be aiming to add approximately 50/50 of carbon rich brown and nitrogen rich green waste to achieve good compost. Green waste consists of things like kitchen waste, grass clippings, nettles, old flowers, spent bedding plants and comfrey leaves.

Brown waste consists of things like paper, cardboard, twigs, straw, egg shells, garden prunings, wool, wood ash, feathers and cotton.

However, you should never add cooked foods or meat to an outdoor composter as this will definitely attract unwelcome rodent visitors.

The trick to making the best compost is to keep it aerated. You can do this by turning the heap occasionally and making sure that you have a good mixture of green and brown waste.

If you don't have garden waste to deal with and space is tight a wormery could well be the solution. Composting with worms is called vermicomposting and wormeries are perfect for dealing with kitchen waste. The best shop bought wormeries are those that have several trays, such as the popular Can-o-Worms, as they are easier to use than an “all in one” model.

Composting worms are native to the UK and in the wild can be found on the surface of the ground, generally in leaf litter. They are not the same as earthworms, which are deep burrowing creatures and not suitable for composting systems. Composting worms will eat all manner of household waste from fruit and vegetable peelings, cardboard, paper, bread, pasta right through to the contents of your vacuum cleaner.

It is important that 25-30% of everything added to a wormery should be dry material, such as paper and cardboard. Perfect items to add would be torn up egg boxes, toilet and kitchen roll tubes, torn and scrunched up newspapers (this helps to aerate the wormery) and paper shreddings. By the time your confidential documents have been through the shredder AND the worms you won't need to worry about identity theft. The addition of paper and cardboard not only helps to balance moisture levels within the wormery, but also provides the worms with much needed fibre.

As with outdoor compost heaps, it is not recommended that meat is added to wormeries as it attracts flies.

Worms are nature's composting heroes as they eat up to half their own body weight in food each day and, in return for a few meals a week, provide you with great compost and a liquid plant feed. This liquid feed should be diluted with water at a rate of 1:10 and can be used to give your plants a real lift. The solid compost can either be used as a top dressing or mixed with potting compost.

To see how a wormery is set up and maintained click here.

Another exciting form of composting is the use of Bokashi, which in this case is bran impregnated with effective micro organisms. This is a system that has been used successfully by the Japanese for about 25 years and involves the addition of good bacteria (the same principle as those well known drinks and yoghurts) to your waste to speed up the composting process. You put your kitchen waste and the bran into the Bokashi bucket in alternate layers and, when full, leave to "pickle" for two weeks. At the end of this time you can either add the waste to your normal compost heap or wormery.

The main advantage of the Bokashi system is that you can add meat and fish scraps and all those left over bits of food the kids leave (that's if the dogs don't get there first!). Once these have been pickled they can safely be added to your outdoor compost heap or wormery.

It may be that if you have a lot of waste and the space that you opt for more than one of the above composting methods and this is quite common. However, if you do only have space for a wormery you are still helping to slim down your bin and prevent waste being sent, unnecessarily, to landfill.

If every household composted their food waste it would mean a saving of over a quarter of a tonne of carbon emissions per year. This is the equivalent of approximately 1,000 miles of driving in a car that averages 40 mpg.

This is an article that I wrote for Almost Mrs Average over at The Rubbish Diet who is trying to slim her bin down to a size 0. She has some amazing info on her
site - well worth a good read.

Composting worms love kitchen waste

By Heather 12 years ago

Composting with worms is called vermicomposting and is perfect for dealing with all of your kitchen waste. One of the most popular wormeries is the Can-o-Worms.

All your kitchen waste can be added to your wormery. This includes cooked food scraps, veg peelings, tea leaves, coffee grounds, bread, pasta and rice. You can also add vacuum cleaner dust, hair, wool, cotton and egg shells.

Never add dog or cat faeces to your wormery as these contain pathogens.

On the other hand, manure from your vegetarian pets, such as rabbits and guinea pigs can be added to your kitchen waste to make great compost.

Where should wormeries be kept? In the summer a shady spot is best and in winter a garage, shed or greenhouse is perfect. If you have limited space a balcony, porch or yard are ideal as healthy wormeries don’t smell.

Onions and citrus fruits increase acidity so you should avoid adding these to your wormery. High acidity levels will kill composting worms and adding anti-acid lime mix will help to keep a healthy balance.

Remember to add plenty of cardboard and paper (25-30% of everything you add to your wormery). It provides fibre for your composting worms and adding shredded paper helps to prevent identity theft.

Moisture mats should be placed on the top of the freshest waste in your wormery. Worms breathe through their skin, which needs to be moist to enable an exchange of air.

Significant improvements in the health of your composting worms can be achieved by adding Bokashi waste to your wormery. Introduce Bokashi waste gradually and build up over a period of time.

Top five tips for a greener workplace

By Heather 12 years ago

Here are my top five tips for reducing the quantity of waste that would otherwise find its way into a landfill site. Many people are environmentally aware at home, but somehow it slips by the wayside at work.

  1. Shred all paper and either re-use as pet bedding or add to a composter or wormery. At Wiggly Wigglers we use all our shredded paper as packing material in our parcels and actively encourage customers to compost it. If you have confidential waste, consider using a company like Enviroshred who feed pulped paper waste to worms and the resulting compost can be used in the garden.

  2. Buy your milk from your local milkman. Not only does your milk have less food miles, but the average milk bottle can be refilled up to twenty times before it wears out, saving lots of unnecessary waste.

  3. Instead of throwing all those bits of lunch waste, apples cores and banana skins etc into the bin, put them into a wormery or bokashi bucket. A bokashi bucket will even deal with those leftover bits of meat/fish sandwich, sausage rolls etc. Great garden compost and a liquid feed for free for any green fingered employee prepared to take it home.

  4. Keep recycling bins close at hand for items such as plastic, glass and cans

  5. Try to use environmentally friendly products, such as Ecover for your hand wash, washing up liquid/dishwasher tablets and recycled hand towels.
Here is an earlier post that we did about Bokashi and also have a look at Mark Eccleston's blog The Green Fingered Photographer to read about his Bokashi experiences. To have a look at a wormery setup check out Tractorboy's blog at Green Jellybean.Have you got any hot/innovative tips to share with us?