How to compost with Zenzele Bokashi Flakes- A Step by Step Guide.

What is Bokashi Composting?

Bokashi composting is an anaerobic process that relies on inoculated bran to ferment kitchen waste, including meat and dairy, into a safe soil builder and nutrient-rich tea for your plants.

Step by step guide on how to create Bokashi Compost:

Step 1:

Make sure you have a bucket that is fit for purpose. It is easy to make your own Bokashi buckets, but the following key principles must be followed:

  1. Use decent size buckets;
  2. Ensure the lid is airtight;
  3. The bucket system must have a drainage system. You do not want your organic waste to sit in it’s own fermentin liquid. 

Read: How to Make an Inexpensive Bokashi Bucket



Step 2:

Managing your solid waste requires you to follow the basic process below:

  1. Begin by sprinkling some Bokashi inoculates (Zenzele Bokashi Flakes) on the bottom of the bucket.
  2. Save up your day’s kitchen scraps in a container (a used ice cream or yoghurt container is ideal) and once a day, add it all to the Bokashi bucket. Remember, do not include any mouldy or rotten food items. To ensure an effective fermentation process, chop/break large pieces of food items into smaller fragments and drain any excess liquid before placing the waste in the bucket. The bucket should have a drainage system or spigot (tap).
  3. Place your fresh kitchen scraps or meal leftovers inside the bucket and coat them evenly with a layer of Bokashi inoculants (Zenzele Bokashi Flakes).
  4. Press down on the scraps with the inner lid or a potato masher to expel air and cover with the inside lid, or plate to reduce air contact.
  5. Make sure to close the lid tightly every time you add waste into the bucket. Not doing so could result in rotting rather than fermenting of the food waste! The bucket must be airtight. If it is not, food will rot!

Continue this process until the bucket is full. It may take you a week to a month to fill up a bucket, depending on the number of people in your household and the amount of food waste you generate.

How much Zenzele Bokashi flakes must I use?

  1. Use approximately 1 – 2 handfuls of Bokashi inoculants (Zenzele Bokashi Flakes) for every inch (2.5cm) layer of food waste;
  2. Use more inoculants during the summer months and when treating high-protein foods such as meat, fish, small bones, cheese, and eggs.

What do I do when the bucket is full?

  1. Add a generous coat of Bokashi inoculants (Zenzele Bokashi Flakes) to the final layer of food waste, and seal the lid tightly. Remember, the microbes need an airtight environment to do their job!
  2. Store the bucket away from direct sunlight in a warm place for a period of 1 – 2 weeks so that the fermentation process can be completed.
  3. Whilst filling the bucket and during the 1 to 2 week fermentation period, liquid may collect at the bottom of the bucket.  Drain this liquid daily and ideally use  on the same day.

The bucket juice should be used within a day or two after draining from the bucket. The amount and colour of the liquid drained will depend on the type of foods you have put into the bucket.  Fruit and vegetables tend to release more liquid than other foods.  Do not be concerned if little or no liquid is produced.

What can the bucket juice be used for?

  • To feed garden or house plants. Use 2 teaspoons to 1 litre of water and apply directly to the soil.  For trees and shrubs, use 4 teaspoons to 1 litre of water.  As a foliar spray, use 1 teaspoon to 1 litre of water.
  • Pour the concentrated liquid directly into your drains, toilets or septic system to prevent odours.
  • Please note this liquid is not equivalent to and should not be used in place of the original EM concentrate. The  bucket juice cannot be stored and must be used within 24 hours after drainage, or it will start to  spoil.

Read: What is Bokashi Liquid and How to Use it

What to do when the fermentation is complete?

  1. After fermentation, the bokashi can be buried in flower/veggie beds, added to the compost heap or buried under trees.
  2. Rinse/clean the bucket with warm water and vinegar only or use a detergent that is not anti-microbial.

It is critical not to use an antimicrobial detergent to wash your bucket as this will destroy the living organisms required to necessary for the fermentation to take place. 

How do I know if I am doing it right?

The following are signs of success:

  • There should be no foul odour – the smell should be that of the different food waste (citrus, meaty, fishy etc) and similar to that of pickles or cider vinegar
  • A white mould may appear – this is OK and shows that a good fermentation process has occurred.

How do I know if the process has gone wrong?

The following are signs of failure:

  • Strong rancid or rotten smell (like rotten eggs)
  • Black or blue-green fungi, indicating that waste has putrefied

If fermentation isn’t working, what must I do?

Check that:

  • Enough Bokashi innoculant (Zenzele Bokashi Flakes) has been added in the process;
  • The container has been kept airtight;
  • The bucket juice has been drained from the bucket;
  • Make sure that the bucket  is not exposed to direct sunlight or extreme temperatures.

What do I do with a failed batch?

  • Dig a hole about 35 cm deep and add the waste. Add a few handfuls of Zenzele Bokashi Flakes to the waste and mix well with the soil; 
  • Optional: Pour a 1:50 dilution of EM liquid over waste and mix in. Cover with a 10 cm layer of soil. 

How do I use the fermented food waste?

In your gardens:

As the fermented food waste is initially acidic take care not to burn roots of herbaceous plants (herbs, flowers and veggies). To prevent this the food waste can first be composted (by using the simple method below) in a hole/trench in the ground for 1 – 2 weeks and then used on delicate herbs, flowers and veggies.

  • Dig a composting hole or trench approximately a spades depth
  • Add the fermented food waste and mix with an equal amount of soil
  • Adding a few handfuls of Bokashi inoculant to this will act as an accelerant and assist the compositing process
  • Add any leaves or lawn cuttings if you have, if you don’t, no problem the process will still work
  • Bacteria in the soil and waste will start to break down the food waste and after about 3 – 4 weeks most of the food waste will have decomposted
  • You can then dig out and use this compost on your veggies, herbs or flowers

Alternatively you can just bury it (usually a spades depth) around the base of trees and shrubs or add it to your compost heap.

In your compost heap:

  • Add to the bottom or middle of the compost heap.
  • Process works better if you mix the food waste with some composting material before introducing it to the heap.
  • Adding some of the Bokashi inoculant (Zenzele Bokashi Flakes) to this mix will further assist the compositing process and improve the quality of compost produced. 

Do you want to learn more?

Bokashi Organko has a great video series explaining the Bokashi process from start to finish. 

Click here to learn more!



This article was adapted from information available on Bokashi4Africa.