Wednesday, 2 July 2008


I have been composting for ages, but wanted to find a way to keep most, if not all food waste out of the domestic bin. I tried a wormery, but I found the little blighters needed so much tlc it wasn't worth the trouble. They were very fussy - wouldn't eat oranges, or onions, and every so often, for no apparent reason, a whole tray of scraps would just go completely rancid and all the worms would dive down to the bottom and lurk in the sludge. In fact a lot of them seemed to live permanently in the sludge, and I was forever fishing them out and throwing them back in the top tray. And yes I did add lots of shredded paper and cardboard, plus the lime mix, plus the special treat stuff, and they STILL weren't happy. I only ever harvested one trayful of compost, and when I came to use it to sow seeds in, discovered it was full of slugs eggs. So I freecycled the wormery and hope the new owner has more luck than I did. So for nearly a year now I've been using this bokashi system.

You can put just about anything in it - I even put leftover cat food in it, and it's true that it doesn't smell while you're filling it up, even though I keep it in the corner of the kitchen. However the juice that comes out the bottom is a bit wiffy, and I'm not convinced about it keeping the drains fresh, though it doesn't make them any worse. I have also used the diluted juice for feeding plants, and that does seem to be fairly effective. I haven't done any scientific trials though.

The worst part is when you come to empty it. The 'pickled' contents, described by the blurb as a 'sweet and sour' smell when you tip it out, actually smells of vomit, but it is true that it breaks down incredibly quickly. Over the winter I dug several trenches on the allotment and buried the stuff in those, ready to plant this year's beans and peas into. However something obviously sniffed it out and started digging big holes where I had buried it. There were also rat tunnels in the compost bin where I had added it in there. So I've decided from now on it will just go into the compost bin, with a wire mesh underneath to keep the rats out.

So far so good (ish) - the peas and beans are looking pretty good, but as I said, I haven't done any comparison trials or anything like that. I would be interested to hear from anyone else who has been using it longer than I have, as to whether they think it makes a difference to their crops.

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