I’ve seen a lot on the internet about Bokashi and red composting worms. Several sites recommend adding Bokashi fermented food scraps directly to the composting worm bin. That would be much easier than digging holes to bury the Bokashi fermented food scraps. Usually Bokashi buckets are 5 gallons each. When it is full that is an awful lot of Bokashi compost to add to a worm bin. Unless you have huge commercial sized worm bins. So the first problem is the amount of Bokashi when it is ready is too much for a home-sized worm bin.
Bokashi and Red Composting Worms-Is it OK?
Another problem of putting Bokashi fermented kitchen scraps into a worm bin is that it is very acidic. Red compost worms also known as red wigglers can tolerate a wide range of ph in the bin. But they can not handle too much acidity. When the Bokashi food scraps are first finished they are too acidic for a worm bin.
Posted below is a YouTube video of some Bokashi and red compost worms. You can see the worms reactions to the acidity of the Bokashi kitchen scraps. It is very clear that they are in distress as they writhe around trying to get away from the acidity. In the picture to the left the two worms that are curled up are actually writhing in distress to the Bokashi. The Bokashi is the brown powder that you see in the picture. The vegetable scraps in the picture are fermented by the Bokashi microorganisms. I wanted you to know that after I saw the worms’ reactions I removed them from the Bokashi fermented kitchen scraps.
Let Bokashi Compost Sit for a While
it is important to know that Bokashi fermented kitchen scraps need to sit for a while exposed to the air before being added to a worm bin. Or just add small amounts at a time. This way the worms can steer clear of it until the acidity has worn off. Bokashi fermented kitchen scraps should not be buried near roots of plants that you care about. The acidity could harm the roots before it becomes neutral. The acidity dissipates quickly when it is buried in the ground.
Just a Few Tips on Bokashi and Red Wigglers
So these are just a few tips to keep your worms healthy and in the proper environment. The thing about the Bokashi kitchen scraps is that they are great after they lose their acidity. The worms really love eating it after it has a more neutral ph!
Burying Bokashi compost completes the composting cycle. As a matter of fact, you aren’t burying Bokashi compost because it hasn’t composted yet. Putting food scraps in the bucket with the Bokashi bran is only the first step of the process. The food scraps are fermented not composted! In fact, the Bokashi process in the bucket pickles the food! Burying the fermented food scraps completes the composting process. It actually turns into compost in this step whether you put it into your compost bin or you bury it.
Burying Bokashi Compost in the Winter is Problematic
You can’t dig the hole necessary to bury the bokashi food scraps if the ground is frozen. At this point I decided I didn’t want to spend the time or energy digging holes. So I looked for an alternative. I decided to simulate burying by creating a Bokashi composting bin!
When the fermented food scraps filled my Bokashi bucket, I took a Rubbermaid Roughneck tote. I layered the fermented food waste with potting soil layers trying to create a mock burying Bokashi situation! The layers were created until the Rubbermaid tote was filled almost to the top. I left the bin in the basement stairwell with the top partially on. This allows oxygen to get in to create an aerobic environment. Aerobic just means with oxygen. Then the bin sat for a few days for the acidity to wear off. I thought it would be slightly warmer in the basement stairwell because it is under the ground and it was winter. As the weather grew warmer I added composting worms to the bin to accelerate the process.
The Composting Worms Loved This Mixture
The red wigglers grew fat and plentiful. It was so gratifying to rake through the mixture with gloves on my hands and see all the worms and all the mating that was going on! The worms loved this mixture! Check out this post and youtube video on: Bokashi and Red Composting Worms!
My Experiment Didn’t Work Out As Planned
This wasn’t an optimum process for me. Even though Bokashi compost doesn’t stink like regular rotten kitchen waste, it was not a pleasant experience layering the fermented food scraps with the potting soil. After the Rubbermaid bin was full it was very heavy and awkward to move.
Burying Bokashi Compost is Easier
I am back to digging holes for burying Bokashi compost. It isn’t worth it to go through the process of making a simulated environment in a Rubbermaid bin. For me, it is quicker and easier to dig holes, bury the fermented food scraps and be done with it. Two words of advice:
Dig holes in your garden before it freezes and cover them so no-one falls into them.
Don’t bury the waste near active roots because the acidity will harm them.
Good Luck With Bokashi fermentation and composting!