Last week, Ayala Alabang Village Association honored Earth Day with several residents who made a Commitment to Compost. For those who aren’t familiar, composting is the process of turning food scraps and yard waste into organic material, filled with nutrients that makes soil happy and healthy.

Bokashi Master of the Philippines, Rina Papio came to AAVA and spoke about the Bokashi method of composting, a process that uses fermentation instead of decomposition.

Rina Papio, Bokashi Master of the Philippines discusses the composting method at Ayala Alabang Village Association.

“Bokashi composting is a great way for individuals to divert food waste away from our landfills. With the help of beneficial microorganisms, we can turn food waste into healthy soil and keep it from polluting the Earth,” says Papio.  Rina was also featured on CNN as the engineer cleaning up the Pasig river by introducing it to Bokashi Mudballs, good bacteria that works to eliminated bad bacteria.  

The inside of a newly started Bokashi bin. Photo by Pfctdayelise/Wikipedia

The seminar was well attended by a very active audience from a diverse demographic.  

Residents paid a nominal fee for their own Bokashi bins.

Things to remember:  

1. The Bokashi method uses fermentation and doesn’t give off a rancid and decaying smell. When your pile has a soft, pickle-like odor, very similar to atchara or kimchi, this is a good indicator your process is going nicely.

2. Prepare the food scraps and yard waste properly. Cut it up into small pieces (about an inch), place it on a strainer and make sure it’s been drained of liquids. When that’s done, store the food scraps in a sealed container, refrigerate and wait till you have enough to make a layer in the bin.

Add your food scraps to the bin and sprinkle just enough bran on top of it like how you would dust tiramisu with cocoa powder. Mix and cover.  

Some people use an old plate or the cover of an old pot to press their pile flat. This keeps the pile free from exposure to the air inside the bin. Don’t forget to cover the bin with the lid and keep it in a dark, cool place.

3. Once the bin is full, keep it sealed for two weeks. Every now and then, you should turn the spout on your Bokashi bin to drain the leachate or what we call ‘compost tea’.  You can add this liquid to tap water and use it for your plants. You can also pour this down your drain or flush it down the toilet. The ‘compost tea’ is filled with good bacteria that eliminates slime and gunk in your pipes.

This compost tea should be used within the day.

4. After the two weeks are done, you have your ‘pre-compost.’ This pre-compost should not go near plant roots. Due to its high acidity level, this can be harmful. Add it to your compost pile or bury it in a soil pocket that’s marked clearly or fenced off. Your healthy soil will be ready in four weeks.  

What you can put in your Bokashi bin:

1. Cooked food
2. Raw Food
3. Fur/Hair
4. Small Bones (chopped up)
5. Meat
6. Dairy
7. Vegetable and fruit scraps

Remember to cut them up in small pieces.

What not to put:

1. Liquids
2. Oil

It’s okay:

1. White mold means the bacteria is thriving
2. Sweet and sour smell

Signs of trouble:

1. Foul stench
2. Dark green or dark blue fuzzy growth

If your pile has a bad odor with blue or green fuzzy growth on it, something went wrong. You can bury the failed pile into soil and start over.  Make sure to scrub your Bokashi bin clean before doing so.

If the mold is not too much, you can try rescuing your pile by adding more bran.  

Remember the Benefits:

According to the Project Drawdown/CNN quiz for climate change, composting would be similar to taking 16 million cars off the road.  “Throwing away less of what we eat is an even more impactful way to reduce carbon emissions. A third of all food that we raise or grow never makes it onto our plates, and that waste accounts for around 8 percent of global emissions, according to Drawdown’s analysis.”