Jasmine is in the air.

My heart always leaps when I smell the first scent of jasmine for the year.  It promises long summer days and warm evenings in the sea, and salads and fruit and sitting outdoors with friends.

So with the storm now passed and waking to a fine day I was inspired to get into the garden.  Between my awesome new job, the battle with bandicoots and general winter hibernation, my herbs have been quite neglected.  The only thing that’s really survived the cold months was the lemongrass, which I chopped back today to dry and use as tea.  But I bought some parsley and a few pots of colour from the market which will start to revive my little garden.

Later James and I headed down to the harbour for a picnic lunch and a lazy hour and a half soaking up the sun.


The Bokashi Project: Part 3

I’ve been waiting for a sunny day to take some pictures in the garden but the forecast suggests I could be waiting a while, so I nipped outside this afternoon before the light faded (it’s now pouring as I write this).

With a quick turn of the trowel, it was easy to see my first bokashi batch had gone to plan: three week’s worth of kitchen scraps had all but disappeared, with just an odd teabag or so remaining.  I was expecting that black, crumbly soil you get from composting, but I’ve realised the dirt in my garden is quite poor and it’s going to take a few bokashi buckets to revive it, for which there’s no short supply, because I dug in my second bucket today too.

Overall I think bokashi is a fairly no-fuss way to manage kitchen waste as a unit-dweller, provided you have somewhere to empty your bucket.  I like that we can tip the scraps into a big bucket in the kitchen, rather than go outside each time, and there’s no mouldy scraps bin deal with.  It also breaks down faster than regular composting so you can use it sooner.

I thoroughly recommend this DIY method – if you can thrift some suitable buckets, you’ll only need to buy the bran, so it’s really inexpensive.  And if you’ve got friends that do bokashi, you can buy in bulk and it’s even cheaper.

As with any gardening, a little experimentation is needed.  Initially I was wondering how many buckets I’d need, but for our little household of two I think two buckets will suffice, filling one while the other matures.  I’ve also trialled two bucket styles. The nappy bucket I found on Freecycle works really well because the lid fits tightly but is easy to take off, and it’s a good size, about 15 litres.  The other one, as I’ve previously mentioned, needs some muscle to open and close, but they both do the job needed.

I also discovered one morning that a bandicoot had been digging where the bokashi was buried.  It was just the once so I’m not too concerned, but you may need to dig deep if you have larger wildlife in your neighbourhood.

Another great thing is that there’s nothing soggy in the regular bin, so no need for plastic bin liners – and now there’s hardly anything to throw out anyway.

The Bokashi Project: Part 2

It’s been a couple of weeks now, just enough time for my first bokashi bucket to mature, and since the sun is shining today (a rare occurrence this summer), I thought I should make the most of it and try the next stage of my project.

As you know I’ve snubbed the fancy commercial kits in favour of Jenny’s Swedish bucket: one nondescript bucket, no holes, with a lid. I feared I’d have a bucket of slime to dispose of – it’s been sitting in the kitchen for weeks, so I went outside and gingerly opened the lid, and…

It worked!  No bad smell!  The scraps were “pickled” with a little of the good mould (the white, fluffy kind), and just a vague tang.

My next task was to bury it.  There’s a tiny plot of garden by my back stairs which is technically common area, but I’ve claimed this neglected spot as my kitchen garden.  Growing basil is one thing, and digging big holes in the garden is another, but all I needed was a trench about 1m long, 0.5m wide, and about 20cm deep to bury 10 litres of bokashi.  Now I wait another two weeks for it to break down, ready for use.

The Bokashi Project: Part 1

I’m a big fan of composting.  It diverts waste from landfill, reduces greenhouse gas and is nature’s way of recycling waste into nutrient rich food for the garden.

I’ve been lucky in previous rentals to have a communal compost bin in the back yard somewhere, but there’s nowhere suitable at my new unit.  Even a healthy compost bin attracts a few bugs and no one really wants that outside their window.  Nor would the body corporate look too kindly on a worm farm in the azalea garden.  So I started thinking about bokashi and indoor composting.

I’d heard enough about bokashi buckets to know commercial kits are overpriced but I figured I could make my own with a couple of buckets and a drill.  I was searching online to see if anyone had tried this when I came across “Swedish buckets” on Jenny’s very knowledgeable bokashi blog.  She says all you need is a bucket with a snug lid, newspaper and bokashi bran (aka EM or effective microorganisms).  What could be easier?

Ideally I was after used buckets but ended up buying a new one from my local independent hardware store.  This particular style will do the job, however the lid tough to peel off so I wouldn’t recommend it.  I’ve since thrifted a nappy bucket via Freecycle so I’ll see how that one works too.

The challenge will be what to do once the buckets are full and ready to take outside as the contents need to break down in the soil before you can use it, but I’m looking forward to seeing the results.