Bokashi vs. Vermicomposting

Here are the pros and cons of both methods, as I see it for my particular living situation:
  1. Space - at first, it seemed like a tie. A worm bin is roughly 2'W x 1.5'D x 1'H. A Bokashi Bucket is roughly 1' in diameter and 1.5' high - but in order to keep your system going (since a full bucket needs to sit for 2 weeks), many people recommended buying two, which would increase the footprint to 2' x 1'. However, both the Burbank recycling coordinator and my friend in Chicago advised that you can store your scraps in the freezer in the meantime - meaning I would only need one Bokashi bucket. Bokashi wins on space constraints.

  2. Container Price - The price of a pre-made worm bin ($100+ online, but $5-$50 from local recycle centers), can be lower than a prefab Bokashi bucket ($60+, from retailers only) - especially if you have more than one Bokashi bucket. However, the DIY price for making a worm bin or Bokashi bucket is about the same, so I'd call this one a tie.

  3. Organism Price - Once you buy your worms (about $20 for 1 lb.), they will reproduce and you should not have to buy more if you maintain your farm correctly. However, with Bokashi, you will need to buy or make your own Bokashi mix as you run out. If you purchase ready-made Bokashi powder, it's $9-12 for a 1 gallon bag. If you make your own, you will need EM culture and the base ingredients (molasses, wheat bran), as well as room to spread the mix out while it dries. Worm bin wins on the price of keeping your system going.

  4. Food Scrap Restrictions - With a worm bin, you cannot include meat, dairy, or anything oily (so no cooked foods). You are also supposed to avoid citrus fruit scraps, as the acidity is unsuitable for the worms. On the other hand, since the worms need fibrous bedding, a worm farm is a convenient way to recycle your newspapers. With a Bokashi system, you can include ALL food waste, including meat, bones, oily scraps, and citrus fruits. Although I eat very little meat, I often cook with oil. Bokashi wins on flexibility.

  5. Obtrusiveness - While a worm bin could technically be kept inside your apartment, and not just in a garage or patio, my particular apartment lacked the space. Even when the stairway alcove seemed secure (before my landlord cleaned it out), I was concerned with the possibility of a worm exodus. Apparently, if your worm bin becomes too wet or acidic, your worms will leave in droves to seek out a better environment. Now that could potentially be offensive to the other tenants in my building :) The Bokashi bin can be kept under the kitchen sink, and nothing will escape or bother anyone - Bokashi wins.

  6. Odor - Both systems are odorless when the bin is closed. As long as you cover food scraps with the bedding in your worm bin, there will be no noticeable odors. With the Bokashi system, the food scraps produce a sweet & sour, pickled smell, but not the decayed stench of rotting garbage. This one is also a tie.

  7. Finished Product - The worm castings are a finished product that will make your plants and the earth happy. The Bokashi product, however, still must be buried for a few weeks before it's done. My building does have a small lawn directly outside my window. Although it's not my own private yard, I can bury my scraps behind the bushes to finish the composting process. Others recommend keeping a tub or planter of soil to bury the pickled scraps. Vermicomposting wins on this front, as that method eliminates an extra step before final compost product.

Overall, although both methods had pros and cons, I decided that Bokashi composting would work better for my current situation, and this is the method I will be trying first.

No comments: