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Guide for making and using bokashi with biochar

On this page:

  • easier vermin-free composting with bokashi + biochar
  • uses for bokashi liquid

Ben Elms aka Dr Compost from Wanaka Wastebusters

Composting with bokashi

Bokashi - 暈し

Bokashi is the Japanese word for 'fermented organic matter'. It is a way to pickle and predigest food scraps and grow good microorganisms in your soil. Use this recipe below to make bokashi


  • Return-a-bucket and lid
  • Masher or wood offcut
  • Newspaper or large sponge, cut to the shape of your container



  • Food scraps such as fruit, veges, cooked food, meat, cheese eggs, coffee grounds, cut flowers.
  • Fruit and vege scraps should be chopped into pieces that are smaller than 2cm.
  • Meat, eggs and dairy products should be chopped up as fine as possible

Tip: 2cm is a little less than the width of your thumb. 

No: plastic, 'compostable' bioplastic or liquids of any kind


  1. Remove the lid, and place a 5cm layer of biochar in the bottom of your Return-A-Bucket. 
  2. Sprinkle a big pinch of bokashi bran on the carbonsponge or the last layer of food scraps
  3. Add thin layers of food from your kitchen food scraps container. Be sure to gently squash down the food scraps with a masher or block of scrap wood to keep the air out
  4. Add a pinch of bokashi bran sprinkled over each layer. Tip: add extra bokashi bran if you are trying to ferment proteins or fats such as meats or dairy products
  5. Dampen the newspaper or sponge and place it on top of the food scraps in the bucket. Tip: for best bokashi, aim to only add food scraps once a day. Bokashi does best when it's disturbed as little as possible.
  6. Put the lid back on, making sure to seal it 
  7. Repeat steps 2 to 6 until the bucket is full

Once the bucket is full

  1. Once the bucket is full, add a double pinch of bokashi bran on top of the final layer, replace the damp newspaper or sponge and seal it up.
  2. Leave your bokashi to pickle for 2-4 weeks, depending on the temperature. Tip: if your bokashi is smelly, double check that the lid is on tightly, or sprinkle on some extra biochar to keep it smelling like a light pickle smell
  3. Check every few days if your bokashi is ready. You are looking for good layer of beneficial white fungus across the top of all your food scraps
  4. Once it's ready, tip off the liquid bokashi juice into a container for use in the garden (see more on that below). You can either finish composting your remaining bokashi scraps in your normal compost pile, or bury it in a hole in a the garden with 5-10cm of soil over and plant your seedlings into that soil. Your plants will love it!
  5. If you have meat, bones or dairy products in your bokashi, line the underside of you compost bin with vermin proof wire and cover the bokashi trench with vermin proof wire for 2 weeks
  6. You can wash out your Return-A-Bucket between each round of bokashi composting with chlorine-free water, and pour the juices onto the soil between your plants. They'll love you for it!

Extra tips

  • Bokashi microbes love warm, dark places and will slow down in cool places 
  • Depending on the size of your household, most people find it helpful to have a few bokashi containers going at once to ensure everything gets well pickled 
  • Vermin such as rats and mice don't like fermented food such as bokashi as much as fresh foods. If vermin is attracted to your bokashi compost, try to: 1. add a little more bokashi bran to future batches and 2. cut your food scraps up finer so that they pickle well and 3. ferment your bokashi for longer, especially during cold weather
  • Blue or black furry mould is not a good sign. Do not use anything with black or blue mould in your compost or garden.

How to use your bokashi liquid to give your garden a boost

Bokashi juice is alive with beneficial microbes and beneficial nutrients for your garden.

Adding diluted bokashi liquid to soil

  1. Dilute the juice with 1 part bokashi juice to 100 parts rainwater or unchlorinated water (2 teaspoons per litre of water, or 3 tablespoons per 5 litres of water)
  2. Apply to the soil around your plants.

Tip: if you are on town supply and don't have access to rainwater, fill a container with town water and leave it outside in the sun for 2 days. Most of the chlorine will have left.

Adding diluted bokashi liquid to plant leaves

  1. Dilute the juice with 1 part bokashi juice to 1000 parts rainwater or unchlorinated water (1  teaspoon per 5 litres of water) 
  2. Spray over the leaves of your plants with a watering can or similar

Tip: Wait a couple of days before harvesting leaves that have been sprayed with this liquid


The beneficial microbes in bokashi liquid  are amazing. Simply pour the undiluted liquid down drains and toilets to prevent clogging and give your septic tank system a boost. Bokashi liquid is safe to use with worm based septic systems.

Ready to get composting?

Char Bro has biochar for sale in Auckland. Biochar in compost or garden soil from biochar as a growing media helps to add soil for garden beds and grow seeds and plants Auckland, NZ and reverse climate change. Biochar NZ helps with transplanting plants and mix in with sustainable seed raising mix Auckland, New Zealand for extended growing seasons. 


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