My name is Jenny Harlen, home for me and my family is Sweden where I run the EM Bokashi website for Swedish customers. It’s a webshop and information centre in one, you can visit it on www.bokashi.se.

Our motive for working so hard to spread the word about Bokashi is that we genuinely believe it is A Good Thing. A simple concept that works with nature instead of against us, and that can help us be more climate smart in our homes and more ecological in our gardens. We’d love to see all Sweden stop throwing away food and doing something good with it instead! Reinvesting it in the soil where it belongs.

Sweden is a great country to live. It’s cold and dark and often quite miserable in the winters but when summer comes it’s hard to imagine anywhere nicer you could be. And that’s saying something given I’m a native of New Zealand, an agricultural country that is green in all ways. And what’s more, one of the pioneers in the Bokashi field.

We have a lot of ideas to share and we think its fun to work with something that is part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Please leave us a message here if there’s anything you’d like us to take up here on the blog!



    1. EM isn’t a universal solution to everything — even if it is used in an incredible number of applications. I have no idea what palm kerner cake is so I’ll have to check that on internet, but in general EM isn’t used in cooking (although I do have a friend who bakes bread with a handful of Bokashi bran in). As it stands now, EM is mostly used in environmental, agricultural and healthcare applications, but these are still early days. Who knows what the future will bring?

    2. Well — I feel a bit silly about my last reply, palm kernel cake is obviously not food, its the leftovers after kernel oil is pressed out from the nuts in palm fruits of different sorts. Which means it could be interesting for bokashi. Have a go and let us know! Or contact the EM people in your country (Malaysia?). Good luck!

      1. Palm kernel makes excellent EM bokashi due to the amount of nutrition it still contains. We have used such for animal feed and for compost. We have also found a way to turn palm oil mill effluent (POME, a liquid pollutant) into a bio-fertilizer that can be used back in the oil palm & other plantations.

  1. Ah… to know more, you will have to visit Malaysia, haha! Basically, we activate EM-1 using the POME (instead of just molasses, water and salt) in increasing amounts. The result is a sweet-sourish (odor & taste) EM activated solution that is still rich in nutrients and suitable as a bio-fertilizer. However, the mill owners will have to invest in suitable facilities to convert and hold such waste and no one is happy to do this!

  2. Hey thanks for reposting my bokashi articles! I have a Bokashi experiment about to start that I’d like you to take a look at and perhaps blog about!

    I’ll be placing bokashi sets (donated by the manufacturer) in different family and office environments and following them for 90 days.

    Please get in touch via adhdcanuck@gmail.com and lets chat!


    1. Hi Mike,
      Thanks for letting us know about your experiment! It’s a really cool idea and will be interesting to follow. I’m looking forward to seeing how your group deals with the winter issues, maybe some new ideas will come up we can all share.
      Blog post coming up!

  3. I have a question about bokashi. I recently put my bokashi watse into my composter once full after a months collection of kitchen scraps. The Compost bin, tumbler has been filled with a recipe for HOT COMPOST. Will this kill off all the good EM bacteria from the bokashi system?

    1. Hi Paul. Good question. I think you’ll find it will work anyhow. The EM microbes don’t like to cook and above about 50 degrees C they’ll start to decline. But in a standard home composter, even if its a hot composter, you rarely get temperatures that high. You could always put a thermometer in and have a look! In industrial composting they can get the temperature right up, we rarely get the volume at home to make it happen.
      What people normally find is that adding in Bokashi into a tumbler or whatever other kind of composter you have just gets the whole thing going. So you get soil faster and the compost feels more living. Just give it a go! You’ll soon get a feel for whether it’s working or not!
      ps On the other hand we hardly live in a tropical climate here in Sweden and that makes a difference! Where do you live?

  4. Hi, really great blog site. Very informative and great writing. We are a bokashi food-waste recycling company in South Africa. We help households, restaurants, schools, etc. etc. turn their waste into rich compost and soil. Would be great to connect on our shared passion: using bokashi to make the world better!

    1. Hi Gavin! And thanks for the compliment 🙂 It’s the only way to go — lots and lots of us doing what we can to make things just a little bit better. It’s a good message and it really feels like there are more of us all the time getting behind it.

  5. Hi Jenny, Wow – been reading a few of your blogs and they are inspirational! I work for Reeco in Australia – we are one of the predominant Bokashi manufacturers in Australia: we also supply and distribute Bokashi Bins throughout Australia and are starting up a Blog on our website to help get the word out more! I am new to blogging though so do you have any hints or tips to make sure I’m hitting the right angle? Cheers, Jodie

  6. Hi Jodie. And thanks for the moral support! (Always nice with some encouragement… 🙂
    If you’d like to have a “chat” send me a mail (jenny.harlen@marketstrat.se) and we can go from there.
    Seems like the Bokashi world is getting bigger and the word is spreading. Slowly but surely. And the more of us that can add our two-cents worth the better — we can all make a little bit of a difference at least.
    Cheers, Jenny

  7. Hello, I’m going to be starting my pepper and tomato seedlings in the next couple of months and I have concerns about damping off. Anyways, I’m wondering if I were to include Bokashi into my seedling mix if it would impart some disease protection to the seedlings? Do you know of any studies that have been done on this? Thanks.

    1. Hi Steve, see if this paper could help you:
      You could search on EM + tomatoes and see what else you come up with. But it seems EM helps make the seedlings stronger and more resistant.
      I’m no pro gardener but I think it works well to sprinkle a little Bokashi bran on the seedling soil and rub it in a bit. If I think of it in time I usually add a bit to the seedling potting mix before I fill the seedling trays (we have to get tomatoes started indoors here in Sweden, they then spend the summer in the greenhouse). My feeling is that it works well — but that’s hardly scientific! I don’t know how much is “correct”, I just sort of sprinkle it lightly.
      I use Bokashi bran with seedlings as a way of getting the EM culture into the seedling mix. Kitchen Bokashi (as in the fermented food waste) would be way too strong for them but I use a lot of it when it’s time to transplant the seedlings into their final pots. A 1:3 mix seems to work well, one-part Bokashi (from the kitchen) and 3 parts potting mix. I don’t usually bother mixing it, just dump the Bokashi in the lower part of the pot and fill it up with soil. Pretty much the same approach as I use with outdoor planters.
      It would be great to hear how you get on! If you find any good research please post them here, I’m sure others would be interested.
      Good luck!
      ps where do you live? Can you plant your tomatoes directly outdoors? (Lucky you if so!)

  8. Hi Jenny,

    My friend Deanna and I also really believe in bokashi. We have a struggling little business called Jaki Bokashi whereby we hand-make our own bokashi mix and partially-make our own buckets. We are selling some things at below cost at the moment to be able to compete with large companies. The difference for us is that we, like you, are here to help people when they get into bokashi, not just sell to them.

    We’re wondering if you wouldn’t mind adding us to your bokashi suppliers list? Our website where purchases can be made is http://jakibokashi.com We also have a facebook site: http://www.facebook.com/jakibokashi

    Your site is fantastic 🙂

    Roxane and Deanna

    1. Hi guys! Just had a look at your site and it looks great! Obviously we should help each other out the best we can, I’ll add your link to the suppliers page and anything else I can think of.
      Any good ideas you think we should take up here? I’m open to all suggestions.
      ps and thanks for the compliment!

  9. Hi Jenny – we have an interesting situation here in Dubai; a school that really wants to Bokashi their canteen waste, but they do not have any suitable areas to bury the waste in.
    One of our ideas is to use plant boxes, which we of course have no idea how to go about!
    The area in question is presently bricked and gets some building shade – we were wondering whether it would be feasible to make boxes in which to produce the Bokashi compost and then plant. We would recommend the cheapest potting soil available in Dubai to be used.
    Any advice or ideas would be welcome!
    Many thanks

    1. Hi Jo.
      Wouldn’t it be great to get the school up and running?
      Seems to me that your idea of building boxes would work really well. I’ve seen a film (somewhere! and I’m sure I put it up on the fb page or here on the blog at some stage) of a preschool in Australia doing just that. Their boxes looked like cement and were bang smack in the middle of the courtyard. They’d built up the soil using Bokashi and soil and now just dig down their buckets as needed.

      Here in Sweden we build our boxes out of timber (land of lakes and woods…not just ice and snow lol). The thicker planks you can get the better but as always you take what you can get. There’s always a discussion about pressure impregnated or not, obviously the treated wood lasts longer but what the treatment does to your soil is another question. (Although the EM microbes do a great job of cleaning soil.)

      Definitely go for the cheapest potting soil you can get, there’s nothing to be gained by buying the expensive stuff when you’re going to add Bokashi. But would it be worth adding some mineral soil of some sort, what can you get hold of there? What does Dubai sand add in terms of minerals?
      Would it be an option to build the boxes in brick? Or those lightweight “leca” building blocks?
      Can’t imagine it makes so much difference but maybe you’d need to think of insulating the soil against the heat, keeping the plants cool in there. Here in Sweden we’re always desperately trying to find ways of keeping the soil warm and well-drained so it all feels very exotic to me!

      Drainage would be an issue. Maybe you could think of a contained “self-watering” design? For example a layer of drainage stuff (gravel or those small clay balls) in the bottom, covered by a felt layer of some sort. Drainage hole/s on the side of the box just above the drainage layer so you don’t lose the water in the bottom. Especially good when you have a lot of Bokashi nutrients that you don’t want running all over the courtyard, better the plants get them.

      Any tips from anyone out there? Something you’ve tried or seen or just a good sensible suggestion?
      Love to hear! Let us know what they decide Jo!

  10. Just found your website! I’m starting to use Bokashi again. Before, mine always used to smell gross and I think I left it too long in thd bin. But recently I bought 3litres of Bokashi cleaner and it smelled delicious and worked well on *most* things. Then I got the garden yoghurt maker and was confused because of course that uses molasses so the result was brown and didn’t have the same smell.., plus I switched it off by mistake so re-did the Bering… and generally have to give it another. go! So your site looks good and perhaps we can make further contact? These EM’s are such a good idea! Best wishes, Norma

    1. Hi Norma! Good to hear you found your way back to Bokashi :-). Hope you get your bin smelling nice now, or at least nicer. Could it have been that it was too wet there in your bins before? That’s nearly always what makes them smell. And the longer you leave them the wetter they get… Try just laying a newspaper under the lid to take up the condensation, it often helps.
      I brew my own EM here too for cleaning (works brilliantly!) but was always a bit disappointed with the smell too, molasses is not a good cleaning smell. Then I got hold of some lemon oil and started adding a few drops to each spray bottle. Made all the difference! I got the oil from a company selling DIY supplies for making your own soap and cosmetics, not expensive at all and there are tons of different “flavors” you can play with. Just now I’m onto Green Tea just for the hell of it. The EM brew will still look brownish but at least smell better.
      Anyhow, good luck with it all!

  11. Thanks for this blog. Love your writing. Very helpful information. I am looking forward to embarking on my Bokashi journey.

  12. Hi, Had an idea today. Have been using bokashi for a couple of weeks. Filled up the two bokashi buckets and two smaller buckets. Worried that would end up with mountains of buckets. Saw a video about large scale bokashi composting where they sent the found through a mill. Thought about compacting food rest in a blender. Seems to work. More space less buckets. Have you tried this?

    1. Hi! That’s something I’ve been meaning to try actually and never quite got round to. (Well, I did do I micro test one time with a handheld blender and managed to wreck the blender on some chicken bones…) I’ve been meaning to look for an old food processor at the charity shop to give it a go on a domestic scale. Commercially I think a mill/grinder would definitely be the way to go, was it the guys in Montana you had a look at on the web? They do something similar before doing big-scale bokashi in bins made from insulated timber pallets. Simple and smart. The benefits of milling the food waste first would be that you’d save space, that the microbes would have a much better working environment (more surface area, less air) and that once the fermented waste was mixed with soil the process would go super fast (and look less food-like). In a commercial kitchen environment I imagine you could install a grinder into a bench or sink with a big bucket underneath instead of plumbing. To be tested! Love to hear from anyone out there who has any ideas on the subject. /Jenny

      5 feb 2013 kl. 13:49 skrev Jenny's Bokashi Blog:

      > > New comment on your post “About us” > Author : Lea (IP: , ti0056a380-2992.bb.online.no) > E-mail : fnugg@online.no > URL : > Whois : http://whois.arin.net/rest/ip/

  13. dear jenny, i really enjoy reading your blog and i found it trough the SUMMER blog you just created. unfortunately i cannot get back to it, so could you please send me the link? i take it your inspiration in berlin comes from the prinzessinen garten on moritz platz? i know one of the guys behind it, marco! i used to work for him in an other place. looking forward to that summer blog link, sunny regards aus berlin***********alexine

    1. Hi Alexine! Not quite sure what you’re referring to with the summer blog, but the good news is that today at least it’s a wonderful summer day in Sweden — the veggie garden is looking great and we just picked most of our lunch in the garden. Total luxury! You’re right about the Berlin inspiration, I wrote about it once after we’d been to Berlin on an interrail trip (not exactly gardening weather though, it was November…). I found these links, don’t know if any of them are what you’re looking for but anyhow. Tell Marco thanks for the inspiration if you happen to see him again!!!


  14. hey thank you so much! urban gardening in bread crates, that’s it! also by you, right?? i just purchased the bokashi powder stuff, and i’m about to embark on the adventure (last year i tried traditional composting but i just got a stinking mess, i also tried worming but it was very sad because i had to order them on the internet (no clue where to get them here) and they died very soon after i put them in the composting bin, i felt like a mass murderer. so long live bokashi, i hope!!!
    keep up the good work it’d very helpful, thank you.**************alexine

  15. Helo, found your very interesting blog today. I live in Tokyo and have a very small garden, and this week have been making a raised bed to start a square foot garden. I have two compost bins — well, two dustbin type things with no bottom, placed directly on the earth — and they make fine compost, but it takes forever.Seems like I am going to need a lot of compost on a regular basis for my square foot garden, so after research I came across the Bokashi method. You might think that it’s crazy I didn’t know about it before, but most Japanese live in a very urban environment, and practically no one I know has a garden, only tiny verandahs. Even if they were interested, Bokashi would be difficult, as they have nowhere to bury the pickled stuff to turn it into compost.
    I have bought a bin and some bran, and am about to start experimenting. It’s really exciting. Hope my on-top-of-me neighbours don’t notice! I have to carry out my kitchen waste under cover of darkness to put it into the compost bins! Birds love my organic garden, but my neighbours don’t like the birds! Apparently they are noisy, and they s….t on the futons they hang out to air! I will have to bury my Bokashi goodies at night!!

    1. Hi Elisabeth! Can just see you there doing your guerrilla raid in the middle of the night! Actually I’m sure your neighbors are going to be really impressed when you get it going and they see what you can do with so little. Hope it goes really well. Love to hear more when you’re up and running!

  16. Hello Jenny,

    I Love your blog and all the comments and experiences from you and all these people worldwide who share them here. Needless to say EM and Bokashi are definitely amazing tools that deserve to be spread all over this planet’s soil; it is shurely one of the many amazing nature friendly solutions we all could be using and certainly the coolest way of bringing back to the soil what normally would be lost in a huge pile of space consuming “garbage”.

    As an urbanite here in the center of Amsterdam I just buried my first batch of bokashi; Yeah!; in order to hopefully use the newly created fully mineralised soil to grow some first class tomatoes, bellpeppers, marigolds, beets, strawberries, salad greens and herbs on my roof…lets see if it all works out and I don’t stink the neighbours into a frenzy first… ; ))

    Greets and best wishes from Amsterdam and keep on doing what you are doing.
    Grow more Soil…!!!
    EM/SAM/IMO Rules and Bokashi Rocks!

    Kind regards,


    1. Thanks Roëll! You really made my day. It’s thanks to all of us that this message is spreading, it might not seem like much but bucket by bucket we’re making a difference. Last night I was talking to a bunch of gardeners about Bokashi and EM in the world and spent some hours finding pictures and stories to share with them. The fantastic news was that there were many, many more stories to find from all around the globe than there were a few years ago. Mostly just everyday people living in cities and on farms that have the curiosity and passion to try something new, and the energy to share it with others. It was uplifting, I think together we can make this work.
      Hope your new garden gives you as much joy and peace as mine does!

  17. Hi Jenny, just love your blog and all information shared openly. Just started doing Bokashi from our kitchen scraps and have not even filled up my first 5 gal. bucket. I do have a question, will it work if I just use one bucket leaving the “soup” with the fermenting waste? PChen

    1. Hi Paul, and thanks for the encouragement. Great you’ve started up bokashi at home! Not sure I completely understand your question. But if you mean you’re using a plain bucket without tap, that’ll work as long as you soak up the liquid in something. Newspaper, egg cartons, sawdust (heating pellets are good) or even biochar/charcoal. If you don’t absorb the liquid your bucket will smell so it’s well worth doing. Check the inside of your lid, if you see condensation there it’s too wet in your bucket. Let your scraps run off a bit first as well if they’re wet, eg coffee in filters can hold a lot of moisture but drains off quickly in the sink. All the abovementioned absorption materials make great soil, just pick whatever works for you. Good luck! Jenny

  18. Hi Jenny, thank you so much for the suggestions. I started stacking 2 buckets and had holes drilled in the bottom of the top bucket. This cost me less than $8USD. I find the strongest smell is from the liquid in the bottom bucket. I am getting ready for my 2nd Bokashi bucket so I am going to use a single bucket plus putting micro-cut paper from my paper shredder on the bottom to soak up the liquid as you suggested. This is to compare the smell from both these configurations.
    My wife and I recently moved to North Fort Myers, Florida and we both volunteer at Echo Global Farm, a non-profit organization: http://echonet.org/. About 2 months ago we met Jim Couts who was visiting Echo and he told us all about his non-profit organization helping his community in Ohio using Bokashi method to enrich the soil: http://www.jubileesoil.com/. This conversation got me started on our Kitchen Bokashi. I also found a number of papers on Bokashi published by Echo from their Asian community. Check this out: https://echocommunity.site-ym.com/?page=AsiaNotes. There is an article in Asia Notes 17 on page 7, “An Introduction to Bokashi Fertilizers and Soil Amendments” by Rick Burnette. Rick is now the Agriculture Director at Echo and he does Kitchen Bokashi.
    We are planning to be in Auckland April next year competing at the World Master Games. Am looking forward to visiting Mudbrick vineyard and restaurant on Waiheke. PChen.

    1. Hello Aniruddh! Great to see what you’re doing in Mumbai, thanks for sharing. It never ceases to fascinate me how many different approaches one can take with bokashi composting. And how many alternatives actually work. I really like your innovative approach! Could this be something that would work for many others in India and other countries? Look forward to hearing more when you’ve inspired others to start! Good luck! /Jenny

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s