In many ways, the types of garden amendments that you use are limited only by your creativity and willingness to experiment with innovative ideas. Recently, bokashi has entered the organic gardening scene as a specialty soil additive that promises some pretty impressive benefits. Though it is still relatively new in the mainstream organic gardening world, those that use it swear that nothing else can compare.
If using bokashi interests you, this article will tell you what you need to know to start.
What is Bokashi?
Based on ancient methods of fertilization, bokashi is a specialty form of fertilizer that incorporates the principles of inoculated fermentation. For centuries, it has been popular in East Asia. Bokashi itself is technically the wheat bran dregs from a fermentation process similar to what happens to kombucha, beer or wine. The dregs you use for bokashi have loads of enzymes and antioxidants that add nutrients to the soil as a specialty form of fertilizer full of beneficial bacteria.
Additionally, you can compost with bokashi. It is a Japanese form of composting that involves adding inoculated wheat bran to food scraps.
How Does Bokashi Work?
Because bokashi is made from inoculated wheat bran and molasses, it creates a living soil additive that is an ideal feeding and breeding ground for beneficial bacteria. When added to your garden, bokashi introduces these networks of microbes to the soil. Even more so, it works to nourish the life already present while helping plant roots to produce the defenses necessary for keeping them safe from pathogens, rot or mold. There are several ways to use bokashi, including:
- diluting it to create a foliage spray,
- compost tea,
- or simply adding it to the soil as a top dressing.
You can combine bokashi with other forms of fertilizer or use it on its own to increase the nutrient levels in your garden.
Where can you get it from?
The best way to get bokashi is to buy it (from us here!). Hand-mixed in small batches on our four-acre farm in Colorado. We use all organic ingredients to make a diverse grain bokashi for use in the garden and composting.
If you prefer the DIY method, you can always make your own bokashi using these directions: https://www.teraganix.com/EM-Bokashi-Recipe-s/262.htm
What are the benefits of bokashi?
The probiotic-building benefits of bokashi are numerous. Not only will your garden soil gain organic material that provides nutrients directly to plant roots, but your plants will also grow more vigorously and robustly. The soil building properties of bokashi also create the space for your plants to grow better root structures. This aids in anchoring them in place.
Additionally, with the use of bokashi as a soil additive, you may begin to notice a white film or “fuzz” forming on your soil. This is actinomycetes, which the microorganisms in bokashi stimulate to form. But, don’t worry, it’s good for the soil and your plants!
With studies showing that actinomycetes aids in breaking down nutrients for plants, fixing nitrogen levels, cycling organic matter, and inhibiting the growth of pathogens, you want to see this wonderful layer atop your soil! When microbial life is high, your plants are happy and you need fewer chemicals!
Plus, with fewer chemical inputs needed to keep your plants healthy, you won’t have to worry about the runoff from your garden contaminating water sources or other plants. Because the natural immunity of plants is boosted through the use of bokashi, you will enjoy better color and flavor, as well as bigger yields than before. Even the nutritional value of your crops will improve, as more robust plants tend to have higher antioxidant content.
General Application Rates
Because the best results come when you integrate bokashi with other forms of natural, probiotic-based farming, it pays to become intimate with the biological systems of your garden in order to fully understand the benefits that bokashi will add to your soil.
- To use it as a soil conditioner, top dress each square foot of growing space with a third of a cup of pure bokashi every two weeks.
- To make a soil drench, you can mix one-third of a cup into a gallon of water and cover the container with a loose fitting lid. After one to two days, stir in one tsp. of blackstrap molasses and strain the entire mixture. This drench can be used immediately or stored in a cool, dry location for future use. Some people find it easiest to add their bokashi to a fabric “tea bags.” This means getting to skip the straining step.
.When added to the soil, you should see an impressive increase in the growth rates of your plants. Have the patience to try it out, and you’ll be amazed at the difference some beneficial bacteria can make in your garden.