Composting for small spaces and urban travelers

A small bucket under your sink can produce magic with the help of bokashi.

It can be safely left unattended for weeks while you travel, does not smell or go bad, and you can put pretty much any food scraps and organic material inside. Just sprinkle some bokashi bran on top of your scraps every time you add them to the bucket.

Leave the bucket to do its magic after you fill it. This first part takes about two weeks. The results won’t look yet like soil but it’s more than halfway there. You will now need a couple more weeks and some actual soil to mix this with in order to finish the magic. If you have a small corner in your balcony you can set up a box like I did, and mix it to your old potting soil.

Or you can engage in guerrilla gardening and bury it in urban soil that needs improving. Tree pits, park corners…. later you can throw some seeds there as well. Choose hardy plants, or even not as hardy since they will find very nice conditions to grow in the enriched soil.

Here a close-up of some bokashi bran I just sprinkled on top of my bucket of food leftovers. You can buy the bran ready made online or even make your own.


This first version of my DIY bucket is actually a fancy double bucket that allows me to collect in the bottom the bokashi juice, which is an amazing add-on fertilizer.

If you’re not the DIY type, bokashi buckets are also available for sale. Or if you want to go super simple use just a single bucket and add some newspaper or sawdust in the bottom to absorb the liquid. Close the bucket well because the bokashi microorganisms do their magic in the absence of oxygen.

For those familiar with composting, the word anaerobic brings all kinds of horrific bad smelling associations. But for those familiar with fermenting, the associations go the opposite way. Bokashi is like fermenting for compost. It does not smell foul or rotten, it smells more like pickled.

Here my bucket setup below the sink, together with trash containers and other ugly things normally hidden there, now opened up in this post for your appreciation 😉


If you’re not convinced, I must say one more thing: the first time I opened the bag of finished bokashi compost from my balcony box, the most wonderful smell of fresh moist soil wafted out. It reminded me of a forest right after the rain. I was hooked. The plants love it as well.

Here how it looks after it’s ready:



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