Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Product Review




All Season Indoor Compost

I was thrilled to hear from Kara Fillion of Uncommon Goods - an online retailer that endeavors to feature unique designs and handcrafted products to a broad audience, while raising funds for a variety of charities through the Better to Give charitable program. This unique program allows their customers to choose a charity at checkout for the company to make a $1 donation to. In just 12 years UncommonGoods.com has raised over $300,000 for several charities including RAINN (an anti-sexual violence organization with programs to prevent violence and help survivors in the healing journey), American Forests (works to protect and restore forests across the globe), Women For Women Int. (offers tools and resources for survivors of war ravaged areas to overcome the challenges and reach for self-sufficiency) and City Harvest (a wonderful anti-hunger organization that reduces food waste and decreases hunger issues).

I’ve had the honor of networking with and taking on a couple review projects with this company, starting with the one published on Nov 9th, and the one that I am publishing today: All Season Indoor Composter  (retails at 52.33 for full kit, additional bags of the Bokashi mix retail for 13.08 US) http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/kitchen-composter





This compost system works well for indoor environments enabling people in apartments or condos, those who don’t have yards or those who cannot get out to their yards easily. The system is based on a bokashi product, which basically infuses the organic matter with probiotics that start a fermentation process.  Here’s a brief quote from a radio interview we did with an expert on this topic:



“Bokashi is a Japanese word that means fermented food – it allows food waste to be fermented for about 2 weeks and then once it is introduced to soil it is then turned into humus (loamy soil) in about 2 weeks. …It is a 2-stage system – the first stage is in a bucket – where we fill the container with layers of kitchen waste and bokashi. The food looks virtually the same, it has some white mold on it possibly but it is softer – once you bury it in the soil or compost in about 10-14 days all the vegetable matter has broken down, bones and egg shells can take a month or two to break down. …The 1st stage is kind of like making sauerkraut, in effect pickling the waste and also adds microbes and the probiotics that break it down into healthy soil. …Raccoons and rats will not be interested in it, however dogs will know there are bones out there and chickens will be interested in the bokashi compost as well, but once it is buried there won’t be any interest in the area for them. …In traditional composting all that is really happening to the bones is that they are heated up, but in bokashi – bones are actually very porous and so the microbes are able to work from the inside out. …After about 2 weeks in the soil, if you pick one up, you can see that they are beginning to disintegrate. You don’t want the bucket getting too wet but you can add something dry (peat moss, paper towels, shredded bill receipts, shredded cardboard, tissue paper) to help deal with too much moisture.”

~ Todd Veri – of http://mycrobz.com





As most of my loyal blog readers and radio show listeners are already aware – I’ve a huge passion for composting organics. Composts reduce organics going to the landfill – where they create methane among other gases, mix with other toxic substances and create a destructive leachate as well. Methane, by the way, is 22 times more damaging to the environment then carbon dioxide. We can also reduce how much waste we put on the curb by at least 30% (depending on our cooking habits).

What I like most about this product is that the container itself is made of recycled plastic (70% post-consumer; 10% recycled plastics), and it is small enough to go into a closet, pantry cupboard or under the sink. You can put any kind of organic waste in there including meat and cheese and bones. The system works with beneficial probiotic microbes which when added to your garden, lawn or landscaping areas it will create a more viable biodynamic conditions in the soil. You can also use the liquid ‘tea’ for houseplants, lawns, garden plants, landscaping plants, trees, etc. – dilute:  1 tbsp. per gallon (mix = 90% water 10% liquid) as a fertilizer. Or pour the tea down the drains – it will help clean them and will benefit a septic system as well. This indoor composter system will break down organics 3 to 4 times faster than outdoor composts – without the turning and managing of a compost pile. It doesn’t use heat in the composting process and doesn’t release polluting gases.

A lot of people have asked me about dealing with their pet waste; I feel that having a separate bokashi bucket for dog and cat waste and burying this in the landscaping where you are not harvesting from is the answer – even for urban dwellers.

You’ll probably want to use 2 or more buckets – it will depend on how much organic waste you generate. The key is to fill the bucket and leave the ingredients alone for 1 week or preferably 2 weeks without adding new layers – prior to burying in the soil or compost outside.

Another interesting aspect of this system is that you can revitalize spent potting soil annually, saving quite a lot of money there as well. In the late fall layer 5 gallons of spent soil with 5 gallons of bokashi compost, being sure that the first and last layer is of spent soil. Cover the tote container or bin you are using for this and it will be perfect for using again in the spring.

The bucket comes with a plastic screen that keeps particles from sitting in the liquid reservoir. Liquids will drain into the reservoir for later disposal (this is the “tea” mentioned about earlier). Chop large scraps into smaller pieces, add scraps in layers up to 3” then add a handful of bokashi. You can use a long handled dishwasher safe spoon to mix the ingredients together if you like. (The dishwasher will sterilize the spoon when you are done mixing the layers together.) Even though the bucket has a tight fitting flexible lid, the instructions recommend that users also cover the organics inside with a paper plate or a piece of cardboard (i.e. a square cut from pizza box).

When I opened the 2.2 lb. bag of bokashi that came with the starter kit the odor was pleasant, similar to molasses - so I was not surprised when I read the list of ingredients: wheat bran, rice bran, water, sugarcane blackstrap molasses, mineral rock salt, probiotics and fine wood shavings. I’m thinking that even though I have an outdoor 3-bin compost system, having the bokashi unit will enable me to manage the bin system less often. I can use my favorite stainless steel kitchen compost bucket because it is easier to open, and then when it is ¾ full, dump the contents into the bokashi bucket along with a dose of the bokashi mix, and seal it up tight. Once the bokashi bucket is ¾ full I can then take it out to the compost pile  - which so far seems like I would have to do only once every 2 weeks or perhaps every 3 weeks depending on how much cooking I am doing.

The tap did have a minor drip issue – it wasn’t noticeable but when I looked the next day there was a spot on the floor about the size of a quarter. So I’ve placed an empty clean cream cheese plastic tub container there instead. It fits perfectly there and is handy for draining the plastic bucket. I found that I needed to drain it daily or at least every 2 days though; I suppose my organics from the kitchen are little on the moist side. Some online videos recommend placing an inch or two of peat moss or shredded dry matter in the bottom of the empty bucket to help absorb some of the nutrient rich liquids – and so did Todd (see quote above). I took advantage of this knowledge and have plans of trying shredded paper towels (used), shredded receipts, peat, and shredded pizza boxes to help absorb the liquid my kit produces. It will be interesting to see which absorbent material works best.

When I place the bucket’s contents in the compost bin all I have to do is cover it with a layer of soil along with a handful or two of leaves or grass clippings, depending on what I have on hand. And as such this will increase the outdoor compost bin decomposition as well. I look forward to what this will do for the garden soil next year, when I add the compost dressing again.

It is important to remember that the longer your bucket has to ferment the faster it will break down when you put it in the soil/compost. Before burying – make sure you drain off any excess tea so you don’t get splashed or anything.

If you leave for even a few weeks, the contents in your sealed bucket will be really broken down and you’ll have more liquid in the bottom then usual, and it will probably have a sour smell when you open the lid (like sauerkraut). You might see some white mold form if the contents are left for 2 weeks or longer to ferment prior to burying. This is considered normal.

The UncommonGoods.com page for this product offers some links leading to more information on the bokashi system (http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/kitchen-composter) and the manufacturers www.scdprobiotics.com offer more information and videos on how to use this compost method. You might also want to use the key words “bokashi compost” on the YouTube.com site, where there are dozens of videos to increase your knowledge on this topic.





Find Dave and Lillian Brummet, excerpts from their books, their radio program, blog, and more at: http://brummet.ca * Support the Brummets by telling your friends, clicking those social networking buttons, or visiting the Brummet's Store - and help raise funds for charity as well!



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