How to Make an Inexpensive Bokashi Bucket

Making compost from vegetable leftovers
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Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 10 mins
  • Total Time: 1 wk, 3 days
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10

Increase the amount of food waste that you compost with a homemade bokashi bucket. The name refers to the Japanese translation for "fermented organic matter," which is exactly what's created when food waste is layered in the bucket with an inoculant for about a week and a half.

Bokashi composting is a great way to increase the amount of food waste you can compost. In a bokashi system, previously "un-compostable" foods such as meat and dairy can be composted (fermented, really). The scraps can then be buried in your garden or compost pile or added to your worm bin.

You can purchase pre-made bokashi bins, which consist of a bucket of some kind, a tray to allow for drainage, and a lid. While they work well, there is a much less expensive option that you can make yourself. These homemade bins may not be as nice looking as some of the pre-made ones, but they work just as well and cost significantly less.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Drill

Materials

  • 2 5-gallon plastic bucket
  • Lid for a plastic bucket

Instructions

  1. Prepare the First Bucket

    On the bottom of one bucket, drill 20 to 30 holes with a 1/8- to 1/4-inch drill bit.

  2. Assemble the Buckets

    Set the drilled bucket into the other bucket, in which you have not drilled holes.

  3. Cover the Bucket

    Cover the bucket with a tight-fitting lid. Usually, you will find matching lids near the buckets in the home center.

  4. Start Filling the Bucket

    Start adding your food scraps and bokashi inoculant to the bucket.

How to Use the Bokashi Bucket

To use your bokashi bucket, place a layer of vegetable scraps at the bottom and then scoop a large layer of organic grain or grass-like inoculate, such as bran, rice, dried leaves, sawdust, or wheat mill run. This layer is what stops you from smelling the food as it ferments.

Add food scraps as you collect them. When the bucket is nearly full, let it ferment for 10 days without opening the lid. Drain the liquid every other day and either dispose of it or dilute it with water and use it in the garden.

After 10 days, the food waste will have fermented, and it will be ready to use in a garden, in an outdoor comport, or on a worm farm.

Tips for Using a Bokashi Bucket

While this bokashi bucket is easy to make, you can run into a few pitfalls if you don't get things quite right.

  • The bucket needs to be airtight for the contents to ferment properly. Bokashi is an anaerobic system, and any oxygen entering it will upset the balance. If you find that the lid you've purchased doesn't fit as tightly as you'd like, place a cloth or old T-shirt over the top of the bucket, and then snap the lid on. The extra bit of fabric will make the bucket more airtight.
  • This basic system doesn't have a spigot, but it would be easy enough to harvest any liquid by lifting the top bucket off of the bottom bucket and pouring any liquid that has collected in the bottom bucket into a separate container. If you prefer a spigot, drill a hole and install it at the bottom of the bucket. Opening up the spigot makes it a little easier to drain the liquid from the bucket.