Using Bokashi

In many ways, the types of garden amendments that you can 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 fertilizer that promises some pretty impressive benefits. Though it is still relatively new in the mainstream organic gardening the 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 used for bokashi are filled with 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 form of fertilizer 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 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. One good source is Gro-Kashi, a specialty garden company that prides themselves on their high quality, all organic product. Their bokashi is made from red wheat bran, spring water and beet juice as a sugar source. Additionally, there are various trace vitamins and minerals. For even more microbial benefits, each batch of bokashi is dried in the early morning in order to capture microorganisms directly from the natural environment.

Of course, there are other options to purchase your bokashi or you may choose to make your very own right at home.

What are the Benefits?

The probiotic-building benefits of bokashi are numerous. Not only will your garden soil gain organic material that provides nutrients directly to plant roots, your plants will grow more vigorously and robustly because they will be better equipped to fight off pests and disease. 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. 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 bigger yields than before. Even the nutritional value of your crops will improve, as more robust plants tend to have a higher antioxidant content.

General Application Rates

Using bokashi is simple. 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 black strap 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” in order to skip the straining step.

When added to 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 on your garden.