2017 is here and I want to spread the word about composting and I want to change your perceptions to get you composting even more from your home. It’s quite a challenge I’ve set myself for this year and I hope you can help spread the word about a better way to compost.
Do you already compost? Do you compost kitchen waste, prunings, clippings, weeds and all that fun stuff? I’m so glad that you do but did you know that there is even more that you can compost?
Read on to find out more and why I’m so controversial about my composting!
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It’s a new year with lots of changes happening around the globe and the homesteading way of life is on the increase especially with all the recent TV shows about living off grid. Millennials are more conscious about where their food comes from and how it was produced and just with my circle of friends, co-workers and acquaintances there are lots more people interested in growing their own food organically and I want to help everyone get the best from their gardens by taking a leaf out of the biodyanamic gardeners’ and permaculture books and making a garden a self sustaining entity where the garden can produce all that it will need to compost and feed itself.
I want to show new, wannabe and experienced gardeners and homesteaders alike that there is so much more you can compost, you just need the right tools to do it!
So why are you composting wrong?
You’re not using all the materials you can compost in your composting methods to achieve a great garden!
I don’t think I’m into extreme composting methods but with each season that passes, my family and I find something new which we save from the landfill and garbage. I’m pretty sure my husband and stepson are sick to death of me yelling “Who put recyclables in the normal trash?!” luckily, with the compost caddy in the kitchen, everything compostable avoids the general trash and the landfill.
Extreme composting to me is humanure. When flushing toilets were developed, sanitation improved and disease decreased. I believe that there are better ways to manage human waste and it isn’t composting it such as the willow beds and cattail and reed beds to clean the water and irrigate the land but that’s just me.
Don’t Believe The “Things You Shouldn’t Compost List”!
I want to be clear from the get go that I’m not singling anyone out for their articles, I want to spread the knowledge about composting a different way to help everyone reduce their waste and get the very best out of their garden.
There are some wonderfully extensive lists of what to compost out there in blogs, books, magazines as well as common old gardener’s knowledge. Here are some great resources and infographics for composting:
Pure Living For Life Composting 101
Spoil Your Garden Rotten With Homemade Compost via Craftsy.
Going Zero Waste’s post about Backyard Composting.
Beginner’s Guide to Composting via MindBodyGreen
Morning Chores 88 Everyday Things You Can Compost (and 9 You Shouldn’t)
How to Compost If You Live In An Apartment Or Condo via Global News
Natural Alternative’s post Compost This, Not That
The Good Stuff Everything You Need To Know About How To Compost
I’m here to share that you can compost things on the Composting Naughty List and I’m going to show you how so you can help revolutionize backyard composting, be a trend-setter amongst your other gardening friends and have compost ready, earlier than other gardeners.
What is usually on this Composting Naughty List? Take a look at the infographic below:
Does this list make up the majority of stuff you throw away from your home? It sure does in my house. Luckily, there’s a method of composting which is little well known here in North America but it will take care of many items on this list.
Using a worm compost bin can help you use some cooked and raw foods from the kitchen but not the dairy, oily or animal and fish based raw foods. They’re not overly great with onions or citrus either.
Worms will happily take care of non-citrus fruits, vegetable scraps, tea leaves, coffee grinds and cardboard and break them down to worm castings rich in beneficial soil microorganisms which will build your vegetable garden soil beautifully. Worms also produce a liquid tea which can be drained off and used as a liquid feed for your plants.
The Joy of Bokashi
I first learned about this composting method in England when my local city council ran a waste recycling program which subsidised compost bins, recycling containers and even water butts (rain barrels).
I purchased my first Bokashi compost kit through my local council and added all of my cooked food scraps, kitchen scraps like fruit and vegetable peelings, raw meat scraps and the bones from stock making after a roast.
Wait, did you just say raw meat and bones?
Yes, yes I did.
You CAN compost meat, both raw and cooked, bones, fish (raw and cooked), all of your cooked leftovers waste by using Bokashi composting. I even add cooking grease when it’s cooled and compost that and have not had any issues with attracting vermin or critters.
I don’t recommend emptying a whole deep fat fryer into the Bokashi bin, but a little bit here and there should be fine.
What goes into my Bokashi bin?
Anything which you would normally consider putting into a compost heap and the stuff that isn’t ok to go to the chickens.
The list of what goes into my Bokashi bin is below:
- Teabags, tea leaves
- Coffee grounds
- Coffee filters
- Fruit off-cuts and peels
- Vegetable off-cuts and peels
- Dead flowers
- Raw meat
- Cooked meat leftovers
- Spoiled meat
- Raw fish including skins, shells and bones
- Cooked fish
- Spoiled fish
- Raw bones
- Cooked bones
- Greasy napkins or paper towels
- Used tissues
- Spoiled vegetables (like slimy lettuce)
- Grease or oil from a frying pan once cooled
- Take out leftovers like fries, burger etc.
- Mouldy bread
- Grains such as uncooked rice
- Sugary foods
- Beans/Peas, uncooked or cooked
- Spoiled dog food
- Dough from pastry or bread
- Spent hops from brewing
- Corn cobs
- Soup and stew leftovers
- Stock making leftovers from cooking (bones, onion peel, celery, carrot etc.)
- Dried tomato vines (from ripening tomatoes on the window sill)
- Chili and pepper seeds
- Leftover wine or beer
It’s quite a list isn’t it? Take a look at the picture below to see what I added to my Bokashi bin from a typical week:
You can see a chicken bone to the front. Large bones should be avoided, I break the bones down with a cleaver or saw if they are too big and the dogs can’t have them.
I’m working on greatly improving the soil structure in my gardens to help the depleted soil retain moisture and nutrients. I compost regularly the chicken coop waste, junk mail and kitchen scraps.
Since I have been using the Bokashi bin, I can compost even more. I like to reduce the amount of waste going to the city dump from my family and so far , we have managed to reduce the garbage to one bag a week from one every day.
How it works
Bokashi is a two step process for composting. First is fermenting, second is composting.
It is a low oxygen or anaerobic system where bacteria known as EM work on fermenting the waste. The microbes are on a bran which is sprinkled onto the waste and you kind of let the waste ferment like sauerkraut.
Each time you put a layer of scraps into the container, you sprinkle in a cup of Bokashi bran over the waste and push out the air.
Pushing out the air, removes a lot of the oxygen to ensure that the microbes will have the best environment to ferment the waste.
At this stage you want to use plenty of the Bokashi bran to cover the waste. You can use too little bran which means it won’t ferment correctly.
Once the bin is full, leave it sealed for 1-2 weeks then you can move on to stage 2, composting.
During this time, the microbes produce water and a liquid is produced at the bottom of the container. This can be drained off and used as a liquid plant food or, a compost activator.
You can dig a pit or trench to bury the fermented waste or add it to your compost heap.
In 7 to 10 days, the waste will be composted!
Benefits of Bokashi Composting
I think I have covered that you can compost meat, fish, dairy, bones and oily or fatty foods and leftovers by using this method of composting but what else does it do?
Bokashi composting produces a liquid product during the fermentation which is alive with beneficial organisms that can be used as a liquid fertilizer, just add 1 cup of the liquid to a 2 gallon watering can.
The liquid can also be used neat down drains to reduce blockages!
I like to use the liquid as a compost activator along with mycorrhizal fungi based products like Organic Plant Magic to give my compost pile a boost before winter or in early spring to get everything all working again. If you want to see how to kickstart your compost heap take a look at my YouTube video:
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The other benefit to Bokashi is the fast decomposition of the waste, so you can get your compost ready for your garden faster than traditional composting methods. How great is that? You can have compost ready earlier than anyone else with the knowledge that you are composting so much more waste and boosting your compost with even more nutrients!
Compost ready to go on the garden in Spring! I love putting the Bokashi waste into the compost heap and seeing how the pile heats up and breaks down all the chicken coop waste quickly!
The fermentation process makes the waste acidic, you’re pickling the waste and it smells a bit like vinegar when you open the bin up. This acidity deters critters from being attracted to your compost pile. You also get less flies attracted to the heap as well.
I’m excited to hear what your thoughts are for composting in the comments.
Will you try Bokashi composting and break the composting mold to spearhead composting more waste? If you have any tips to share with me or other readers please share them in the comments or at the Misfit Gardening Community Forum, we would love to hear your ideas and tips.
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