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Bokashi troubleshooting

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So you've got your bokashi bins all set up and running, but things don't seem quite right. Lets see if we can help.

If you're getting problems with fruit flies in the container, add more bokashi bran to make the food waste more acidic so the fruit flies can't live in it. If you have a garden compost bin, you could put all fruit and vegetable peelings straight into that instead of in the bokashi bucket.

If there is white mould on the food, this is not a problem and shows the contents are fermenting properly.

A strong rancid or rotten smell, or the presence of maggots or black or blue-green mould means that the fermenting process has failed. There will be some quite UNfriendly bacteria in there, so you need to get rid of it and start again. You can dig a deep hole in the garden, add some bokashi bran, tip the contents of the bucket in, sprinkle a couple of handfuls of bran over the top, then bury the lot and leave it to sort itself out. Or empty the bucket into a plastic bag and put it in the dustbin. Don't be discouraged - this doesn't happen often, and will probably be due to one or more of the following:

  • Not enough bokashi bran mix was used - be generous - you can't use too much - or it wasn't mixed through enough.

  • There were lots of large pieces of food in there - half inch to one inch pieces are ideal. Larger pieces and thick peels take longer to ferment. Cut smaller next time or ferment for longer.

  • The waste wasn't pressed down enough so there was too much air mixed in with the food scraps in the bin.

  • The container lid wasn't kept tightly closed - this is vital for the fermentation to work. Don't peek to see if it's working!

  • The EM juice was not drained off enough so the mix was too wet - check the tap's not blocked.

  • The inner drainage tray wasn't properly in place.

  • The container was too hot or too cold - it needs a warm place out of direct sun. Just like us, those microbes like a nice comfortable room temperature.

If something is digging up your buried bokashi you may need to bury it a bit deeper - at least 6 inches - or cover the area with a plank or wire netting. Bokashi pre-compost is acidic and doesn't taste good to rodents or foxes so they generally stop digging once they have tasted it. If they are more persistent try fermenting for an extra week to ensure complete fermentation.

Problems with the tap. If the tap is leaking try removing and refitting it - sometimes the washers get displaced if the tap is over tightened. If the washers have deformed replace them. A handy fix is a bit of PTFE tape on the thread - wind on clockwise so the nut doesn't scrunch it up. If the tap has stopped turning try home brewing suppliers on Amazon or ebay for a replacement. Some manufacturers will replace the tap for free.

See also our posts on Bokashi composting, DIY bokashi bins and DIY bokashi bran

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