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just a bucket or two

From Habitat magazine - issue 19

If you don't have room for a full-on compost bin or a worm farm, grab a couple of used 10-litre Resene paint buckets and make a bokashi compost.

Homemade compost bin
Project supplies

Many of us like the idea of composting food scraps and being able to feed our gardens with the results, but we may not have room or a suitable site for a full-sized compost bin. A great alternative is a bokashi compost, which is easily and quickly made from one or two paint buckets.

A bokashi (Japanese for 'fermented organic matter') is fed with kitchen scraps – and because it's airtight and odourless, you can also feed it meat and dairy scraps. A bokashi inoculant containing wheat germ, bran or sawdust, molasses and microorganisms is layered in with the scraps, then the mixture is left to ferment for 10 or more days. It can then be dug into the garden.

You can also fertilise the garden with any liquid produced by drilling holes in the base of the main bucket and setting it inside a second one to collect the drained liquid. Or you can get fancier and attach a tap to the bucket to draw off liquid.

You will need:

  • Two recycled 10-litre Resene buckets
  • Bokashi inoculant (available online or at gardening stores)
  • One lid
  • A drill

Top tip

The bucket needs to be airtight for the contents to ferment properly. Bokashi is an anaerobic system. If the lid doesn't fit as tightly as you'd like, place a cloth or old t-shirt over the top of the bucket before fastening the lid.

How to make a compost bin

Step 1
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Step 2
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Step 1: Thoroughly wash the buckets first. Drill 20 to 30 holes with a large drill bit in the bottom of one bucket.

Step 2:  Start adding food scraps.

Step 3:  Add a tablespoon of the inoculant.

Step 4:  Set the drilled bucket into the other bucket and cover with the lid – you may want to use a piece of brick or something to sit the top bucket on so that there's plenty of room to collect the liquid. Keep adding food scraps and inoculant at the ratio suggested on the packet. Once it is full, leave for 10 days. In the meantime, check the lower bucket for liquid, dilute it, then use it to water the garden.

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Want to get your own free copy of future issues of habitat magazine?

Printed copies of habitat highlights are available from late March 2024 at Resene ColorShops and resellers, while stocks last. You can view back issues of habitat magazine online.

If you have an idea, project or story that you think would suit habitat, we’d love to hear from you. Please drop us an email with your details and include photos if submitting a project.

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