Image Credit: EvenGreener
Compost is pretty important in our household; I may be the zealot when it comes to recycling, but my husband is a vegetable gardener who has also had an allotment for over 10 years, and so we get through a lot of compost.
I have composted garden waste, and fruit and vegetable waste for as long as I have had a garden in a standard black plastic compost bin. So while I was able to compost things such as vegetable peelings, apple cores, banana skins, teabags (although many of the most popular brands of teabag contain some nylon) and eggshells, other food waste such as meat, dairy, bread and bones always went in the bin.
In the last few years I, like people in many other areas of the country, have had the option to dispose of food waste by saving it for collection by my local council. However long before that I began to use a Bokashi bin.
According to the latest available figures from WRAP, the UK still sends an estimated 7.3 million tonnes of food waste to landfill. Every single scrap of this could be composted and used to enrich the soil for growing more fruit and vegetables.
Related: How To Reduce Your Food Waste
Meat and dairy may be compostable but they cannot go into normal compost heap as they would attract vermin to your garden very quickly. One solution that has been around for a while is the Green Cone Food Digester. You can place the Green Cone in your garden and add all putrescible (that means anything that can rot down to compost) food waste including vegetable scraps, raw and cooked meat or fish, bones, dairy products and other organic kitchen waste such as tea bags and bread. Add the accelerator powder and it will all turn into lovely compost.
One downside of this idea is that some people have found that although the cone is quite sturdy it can still attract rats who can chew through the plastic.
However there is a system for composting all types of food waste which you can keep indoors - The Bokashi Composting System. Rather than have a bin in your garden this system is kept in your kitchen.
A Bokashi Bin is a plastic box with a handle, a lid and a tap into which you can place any food waste at all, including meat, fish, dairy etc.
Next the magic! Sprinkle a little of the Bokashi Active Bran, which is a dry mixture of bran and molasses that has been inoculated with Effective Microorganisms. Close the lid so as no smells will escape (and yes, it does niff a bit!) and when the bin is full, leave it with the lid closed for two further weeks and the food will be transformed into a product that it is safe to add to your normal compost heap.
Image Credit: Ben Kerckx
If you want to compost continuously, you can buy two buckets so that you can fill one while the other is sitting for two weeks. In fact they are sold in twin packs to make this really easy.
Any liquid which is produced in the bucket can be tapped off into the scoop provided. This liquid when diluted can be used to feed your plants both inside and out. My husband confirms that this makes a really good liquid fertiliser.
I found the system very easy to use, although once you have had food in the bin for a couple of days you will want to close the lid pretty quickly after adding anything new to it. In all honesty, it does smell a bit, but no more than a kitchen food scraps bin. We left the full bin outside for the two weeks it needed to fully compost, and after two weeks it was fully composted.
The bin then needs to be cleaned, which is a bit of a pain, and I suppose you could leave it as it is but of course it will smell straight away if you don’t clean it. I gritted my teeth, held by breath and cleaned it. I would recommend wiping it out with some old newspaper, which can of course then go straight into your composter.
Over all, the bins helped provide some valuable extra compost for our allotment. We have also used a Bokashi bin to make a leaf mould which also worked very well. Having the tap on the bucket meant that we could also drain off the liquor to make liquid fertiliser as well.
If you have lots of garden waste as well as food waste, here is our selection of composters, compost bins and composting systems, from basic plastic composters to attractive wooden compost bins.