There is a distinct pride I enjoy whenever I tell our housekeepers, “No kitchen waste today.” And that happens quite often these days.
If all of us were to replace our kitchen waste bin with a composting bin and if all of the commercial establishments did in situ wet waste management, 60-65 per cent of the global garbage problem gets solved in a few days.
If you want to be a part of this change and want a solution to stop your kitchen waste from going to landfills, give EcoBin—an indoor Bokashi composter kit—a try. It’s neat, compact and packs a punch if you have a garden at home.
EcoBin, a product designed and marketed by eco-entrepreneur and IT professional Vijay Satish, is made of food-grade plastic. It comes with a tap at the bottom which acts as a leachate outlet. A plastic basket is designed to sit tight a few inches above the bottom. It separates the leachate from the fermenting food waste and makes your job of draining the leachate into a container hassle-free. It’s quite easy to assemble all these parts and get started. The kit contains two EcoBins, a one-kg pack of Magic Microbes and a pair of high-quality gloves.
Historically, the evolution of Bokashi has been rather fascinating. Back in the 80s, Dr Teruo Higa of Japan set out on a wonderful journey with the firm conviction to find answers to chemical-free farming. He did eventually hit upon a magical mix of efficient micro-organisms (EMs) as he began experimenting with yeasts, phototrophic bacteria and lactic acid bacteria. A series of soul-satisfying revelations led to Bokashi, a holistic technology for humankind.
About Magic Microbes, a Bokashi bran
Vijay Satish has had his share of epiphanic moments, too. His Magic Microbes (MM) is a product born out of burning curiosity and endurance. Vijay Satish started working on this pleasant-smelling bran over a decade ago and has gained so much of expertise that he can spot a good one just by the look and smell of it. He personally prepares MM only in required quantities and ships it to his customers. That means, frequent trips to his lab where one fungi (yeast) and two types of bacteria (lactic acid and photosynthetic bacteria) come together to form a dry and wonderfully smelling bran and await final touches to get packaged and shipped across to various destinations.
What is Bokashi bran? Put simply, it’s an antithesis to chemical farming. It works towards enriching the soil by infusing it with hyper-active and diverse microbes. Magic Microbes—the EcoBin brand of Bokashi bran—is a mix of molasses and bran fed with powerful EMs (Effective Micro-organisms). It is dry to touch. This potent mix does multiple things: Speeds up composting, suppresses pathogens, prevents putrefaction and foul odour. Most important of all, it supplies high doses of nutrients to the plants.
Note: Rest assured that no harm will come to you if you touch or smell Bokashi. It’s completely organic.
Once you fix the tap, place a few small pieces of jaggery at the bottom (you do this only once). It serves as food to the microbes present in the leachate that drips down in the first few days. Insert the basket and spread a newspaper sheet or a tissue paper on it to make sure very small food particles like tea or coffee powder do not fall down and clog the outlet. Sprinkle a generous layer of MM and put a few inches of food waste. The EcoBin has been designed in such a way that its lid is easy to open and close multiple times a day and it also falls down easily on the bin. But still, once shut, it creates an airtight condition inside suitable for anaerobic digestion.
For every few inches of food waste that goes in, you have to sprinkle a spoonful of MM. If the quantity is high, you may have to sprinkle the mix once more. Whatever maybe the quantity, on days when you add food waste, you have sprinkle the bran at night before packing the day in.
A one-kg pack of bran lasts almost a month for a family of four. Each EcoBin usually takes in food waste for 15-20 days. Once it is full, top it off with another layer of MM and move on to the second bin. Just before the second one fills up, the first one is ready for the final procedure.
There are two ways to do it:
Procedure 1, to store for later use: (See the picture gallery above) Mix the pickle (the fermented contents of the first bin) with soil or used potting mix in a cane basket or a big plastic barrel drilled with holes. It is important to make sure the contents inside breathe. Cover the mouth with a cloth or newspaper sheets or a plastic lid drilled with holes. Keep the container in a well-aerated area. This is when composting actually happens. Until now, it was fermentation. Just 15-20 days later, you get ready-to-use compost. Store it or use it for your plants immediately. Don’t worry about the large, semi-composted chunks. Just add them with your potmix as and when needed. They will keep releasing nutrients at different stages.
Procedure 2, to go directly into the pot: Here, you use the pickle directly for potting by layering it with potmix, step by step. The bottommost layer has to be your regular potmix. Add a pickle layer on top of it and then potmix. Repeat the procedure until you reach the top, just short of 3-4 inches. Please note that the topmost layer has to be a thick layer of regular potmix. Stick in a plant of your choice and see how fast it grows as there is a continuous supply of nutrients for a long time.
There is a certain Bokashi smell which you will get used to in a few days. It’s not bad odour, but a strong, unfamiliar smell.
EcoBin comes in two capacities: A pair of EcoBin compost kit for Rs 1,901 and a smaller Junior kit for Rs 1,301, a kg of Magic Microbes (Rs 85) and a pair of gloves. The operational cost depends on the quantity of kitchen waste generated. However, it is safe to assume that your outgo won’t be beyond Rs 85 a month. You get many litres of Bokashi leachate which keeps enriching the soil and gives instant nutrients to the plants. Secondly, you will keep getting many kgs of enriched compost each time you mix the pickle with soil. Together, your expenditure on home garden comes down significantly.
Some big plusses
- You can throw in both veg and non-veg food.
- No shredding needed but it’s better to chop large water-melon pieces into smaller ones to speed up pickling. Avoid adding coconut shells and mango seeds and liquid food items like sambar, buttermilk, etc.
- Ease of use: The lid is easy to work with and the leachate can be drained out easily. It is nice to use it as a kitchen bin and you don’t have to worry about layering it with newspaper sheets or anything else.
- Brew and more brew: The Bokashi leachate has a heavy microbial load. Dilute it at one part of leachate with 50 parts of water and feed it to your plants. Sprinkling it on the leaves directly gives greater benefits as the leaves absorb the nutrients faster than the roots. You will begin to see the magic in a few days. It also brings down infections and pest attacks significantly.
- Quicker turnaround time: Unlike other aerobic composting methods, the turnaround time is quicker here and the compost is more nutritious because of the rich microbial flora that enters the soil.
To order Ecobin and Magic Microbes online, please visit www.myecobin.in. Postal address: My EcoBin, #468, 39th cross, 9th Main, 5th Block Jayanagar, Bangalore – 560041, Karnataka, India. Phone: +91 95913 29911. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note: The website has well-documented FAQs and a separate file on preparing your own Bokashi bran.
Vijay Satish and his mission
Passion does one kind thing to you: It gives you a reason to make anything you deeply care about last forever.
When I think of Vijay Satish and his love for nature, I see how passion rules him and he obeys it, lets it flow in his veins. Maybe, it was during one such finest moment did he conjure up EcoBin.
An avid home gardener (because he has fruits and vegetables of all kinds growing on the terrace at his home in Jayanagar), he dug into loads of literature and studied all about Bokashi over a decade ago and learned to create a culture at home. His patience and perseverance paid off when a Bokashi bran that he made started yielding results. He cares for his customer inputs and prepares fresh batches of Magic Microbes as and when orders pour in.
Those who care for nature share their knowledge about its mysteries and magic. Vijay Satish has put up all the information about bran preparation on the website. If you do not want to buy it from him directly, you can always prepare your own. But Vijay says people prefer buying from him directly because it costs a lot if not made in high quantities. Also, it takes a trained and keen eye to understand the nuances during the culturing process and to know when the bran is ready to be used.
Check out this gallery where Vijay lets his passion run deep, works hard despite his work demands and harvests loads of fruits and veggies. (Pics: Savita Hiremath & Vijay Satish)