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How To Make Bokashi Powder
in Small or Larger Quantities
Bokashi Powder is made by mixing equal parts of ProBio Mother Culture and blackstrap molasses into water, and then saturating wheat bran (or rice bran) with it. The moistened bran is then put in a sealed bag or container where it ferments for 2 or more weeks. It is then dried out, bagged and that's all there is to it. The dormant probiotic microbes will last for years in the powdered form.
Wheat bran, sometimes called miller's bran, can usually be purchased in smaller quantities (14 oz or 5 lb) at food co-ops and better supermarkets or bakery supply stores. A 14 oz box of wheat bran should run less than $3 and that should be enough for fermenting 3-4 bokashi bins. The better deals are on 50# bags which you can get at feed stores, and farm supply places like Agways for about $15. If you make your bokashi powder it in larger batches you'll have plenty to use in the garden to condition and bio-activate your soil. Rice bran also works great for bokashi powder, though it is more expensive and may be a little harder to find in places where rice isn't grown.
Now lets look at the mixing ratios for various amounts of bran and go over this step by step.
|14 oz||1 tbsp||1 tbsp||1½ cups|
|5 lbs||2 tbsp (1 oz)||2 tbsp (1 oz)||5 cups (40 oz)|
|10 lbs||¼ cup (2 oz)||¼ cup (2 oz)||2.5 qts (80 oz)|
|25 lbs||½ cup (8 oz)||½ cup (8 oz)||1¾ to 2 gallons|
|50 lbs||¾ cup (6 oz)||¾ cup (6 oz)||3 to 4 gallons|
You'll also need:
- A bin or wheelbarrow to mix everything in (or you can work on top of a clean tarp or table for small batches ).
- A heavy duty plastic bag to keep the moist mixture in while fermenting.
Procedure. We'll use a 10# mix for our example.
- Put 10# of wheat bran into a container that can be used for mixing, or put it on a clean tarp or table.
- Measure out 2 ½ quarts of water into a container. If not dechlorinated, let it sit for an hour to release the chlorine to the air.
- Add 2 oz of ProBio Mother Culture and 2 oz of blackstrap molasses to the water and stir a bit. Make sure to get all the sticky molasses off the measuring cup or spoon.
- Make a pile out of the bran and put a depression in the middle of it to make a little catch basin for the liquid. Add the liquid to the wheat bran gradually, mixing it in thoroughly. You may not need all the liquid solution you make, or you may need a bit more water to get the mixture how you want it. The idea is to end up with a completely moistened bran, but not dripping wet. Squeeze it into a ball and if it sticks together and doesn't drip then you are done.
- Put the mixture into a black plastic bag, squeeze out all the the excess air (important) and then tie the bag. Let it sit and ferment for about 3 weeks (2 weeks minimum) in a warm place. Make sure it is protected from animals if left outdoors. If you only have a clear or white plastic bag available you can use that, but let the mixture ferment in a dark area. When you open the bag up after the fermenting period it will have a sweet and sour smell and there may be some white mold on it. This is fine. If you see a blue or green or black mold, your mixture was too wet, or too much air got into the bag during fermentation. Discard the mix if this is the case.
- After fermentation, you have the option of using the wet mixture as-is for another couple of weeks, or drying the bokashi mixture, which causes the microbes to go dormant and capable of being stored for a number of years.
- To dry the bokashi mixture you need to spread it out as thinly as possible on a tarp, piece of carboard, garage floor or other clean surface. Crumbling it in your hands or through a screen first will help avoid large wet clumps. When the bokashi is drying, use a rake or your hands every once in a while to mix it up and expose more of the wet surfaces to air. You can dry the bokashi indoors or outdoors. I prefer doing it outdoors on a slightly sunny or windy day. This dries the bokashi within hours and you don't have to worry about animals coming aound in the evening. Some sites say not to dry in direct sunlight, but I haven't found that to be a problem. I rake it often and bag as soon as it is completely dry.
- Store the bokashi powder in plastic bags or containers that keep moisture out. Do not store in direct sunlight. Preferably room or basement temperature.
Uses. Aside from using the bokashi powder to compost waste, use it to improve your garden soil at a rate of about 3# or 1 gallon per 100-200 sf. Put some in your houseplants and flower pots. Add some to your potting soil -up to 2-3% of the total mix. Mix some with the kitty litter to help absorb and naturally digest odor causing elements. Add add some bokashi powder to your other compost piles to speed up decomposition.
Please visit our Bokashi Page for more information about this very exciting and useful way to compost.