Colleen Vanderlinden


So, I had this compost problem. During the warm months, I add food scraps to my outdoor compost pile (against the law in my city -- we're only supposed to compost food waste. It's a dumb rule) and they decompose very quickly without attracting unwanted vermin. But, during the winter, those same scraps, even buried in the pile, serve as a veritable "Hey rats, eat here!" sign. It's gross, and it is a dead giveaway to local officials that I'm composting food. Busted.

I had to come up with a solution for winter food composting, so I got a worm bin. Worm bins are awesome, but I found that our family was generating more food waste than the worms could eat, and that they really didn't like certain things, such as citrus, pieces of potato peel that were sprouting, or too many eggshells. And, of course, I couldn't add bones or dairy to the worm bin. What's a green-minded girl to do?

The answer is: get a Bokashi bucket. Jasmin talked a little about Bokashi in her post about indoor composting. The worst part of Bokashi is the price for a bucket. Good news on that front: you can make your own Bokashi bucket for pennies.

Once you have your Bokashi bucket and some Bokashi bran, start adding food to it. Go ahead and add citrus, bones, dairy -- whatever. Fill the bucket and let it ferment for two weeks. At the end of two weeks, add some of it to your worm bin. You'll find that the worms will seem to steer clear of it for a day or two. Don't worry, they'll come around. In no time, they will be all over the fermented Bokashi compost, and will devour it before you know it. Add another load of Bokashi compost in a new section of the bin once the first batch is almost gone. Repeat as often as your worms finish off a section of Bokashi compost.

This system will work best if you have a couple of Bokashi buckets. This way, you can be adding food waste to one bucket while you're slowly feeding already-fermented waste from the other bucket to your worms. And if you have a couple of worm bins, that's good, too -- they'll take care of your regular food scraps plus the Bokashi compost that much faster.

I love using the Bokashi and worm bin together because it creates a closed system. It's perfect for apartment dwellers who want to compost, but run out of space in the worm bin (or have no idea what to do with the Bokashi once it's fermented.) And it's great for those of us who want to do the green thing, but have to deal with ordinances and HOA by-laws that are anything but.

Have you used a system like this in your home? Have questions about Bokashi or vermicomposting? Leave a comment, and we'll help you out!