CHENNAI: Krishna Kumar, who coaches corporate executives on leadership skills, stumbled upon a Japanese method of composting while researching into management studies. “It sounds crazy and the two seem totally unrelated, but it is true,” he says. “I found a seamless connection between what happens in an organization and the the garden - particularly food garden. This lead me into learning more about soil and composting methods and equipment.”
Krishna Kumar’s organisation Quantum Leaf holds workshops on Bokashi, a composting method suited for urban living because it is anaerobic. This means it is less smellier than the more commonly known vermicomposting. City Express has a conversation with him on how a greenthumb can get started on Bokashi.
1. What is Bokashi? Where did it originate and when?
Bokashi means “Fermented Organic Matter” It is a traditional Japanese method of composting augmented by the formulation of Effective Microorganisms by Japanese microbiologist Dr. Teruo Higa through an accidental discovery. It Involves use of essential microbes to breakdown organic matter (OM). OM is pickled as a pre-treatment for rapid uptake by microbes in the soil when applied for further decomposition.
2. Is it better than the regular vermicomposting? What is the difference?
Both vermicomposting and Bokashi composting have their own unique benefits and in my opinion, both are very beneficial for enriching the soil. They however have distinct differences. Vermicomposting is an aerobic (with air) process and essentially involves earthworms in the process. Bokashi is an anaerobic (without air) process involving a specific combination of microbes known as Effective Microorganisms(EM1) followed by a brief aerobic exposure to complete decomposition.
3. Are there many people in the city who follow this method of composting?
There is an increasing number of people in recent years who are resorting to Bokashi composting. It is very suitable for the urban dwellers with minimal or no outdoor space, it can be practiced in well ventilated indoor area. It is an easy-to-follow process and with fewer mistake points. There is no smell from this composting and it attracts no flies.
4. What is required for Bokashi?
To start Bokashi composting, you need the Bokashi pickling bin, Bokashi bran and a layering bin. Learning the process is very easy with the user manuals supplied with the bins. Bokashi bran is a consumable.
5. How long does it take to compost waste into compost using this method?
It takes about six weeks to convert fresh organic waste into usable compost.
6. Are there any specific plants that do well with Bokashi compost? If yes, which are they?
Bokashi compost is very beneficial to most plants. Citrus plants and rose plants, for example, love Bokashi. There are some plants which do not like acidic soil, only for those plants, quantities have to be limited.
7. Are there other, lesser known composting methods?
Aerobic and anaerobic are the broad two categories. Vermicomposting and Bokashi composting have become a brand of their own. Pit composting, barrel composting, aerobic digesters for community composting and leaf composters for garden waste are all other variants of aerobic composting methods (they differ mainly in the equipment used). Lesser known exotic composting methods are BSF (Black Soldier Fly) or maggot composting and composting using cockroaches.