Worm Farm vs Compost Bin and Bokashi Bins: How They Compare

Garbage
Garbage

When we put our food scraps in the trash, it ends up breaking down in a way that can harm the environment. On the other hand, using a composting system is an eco-friendly way to recycle food waste.

Do you know the difference between a worm farm vs compost bin? Have you ever heard of a bokashi bin or bokashi bucket? Keep on reading to learn about the different composting systems and how they compare.

How Composting Works

Aged Compost
Aged Compost

Source: teedandbrown.com

For starters, all organic matter breaks down to their composing elements when they die. This natural process is known as decomposition. When leaves and other organic material fall on the ground, other living organisms like insects, bacteria, worms, and fungi can feed on them.

After their work is done, they leave nothing behind except a brown matter, which is the brown topsoil we know. This nutrient-rich stuff nourishes the plants, helps them grow, and creates air pockets.

Aerobic vs Anaerobic Processes

There are two types of decomposition processes: aerobic and anaerobic. The general term “aerobic” comes from the word “air”, and specifically, “oxygen”. Similarly, an “anaerobic” process means a process that occurs in the absence of oxygen gas.

This table provides a quick comparison of the two decomposition processes.

Aerobic Anaerobic
By Products Carbon dioxide gas (not considered enough to be a greenhouse gas), water and heat. Large amounts of methane gas (which is pungent smelling and flammable).

Note methane has is said to be 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Temperature Generates heat – reaching up to 150 °F. The heat can kill pathogens, bad bacteria and weed seeds.  So that is good. Cool
Efficiency Fast e.g. 3-6 months Slow e.g. years
Maintenance In terms of maintenance, some effort is needed to aerate and checks moisture and temperature levels. Little

Anaerobic composting is more suitable for large corporate and industrial operations. In the case of large scale anaerobic composting, methane gas is burned or captured as a fuel.

Worm Farm vs Compost Bin vs Bokashi Bin Comparison

Worm castings are the richest natural fertilizer known to humans.
Worm castings are the richest natural fertilizer known to humans.

Here’s a short description of the 3 composting systems:

  • Worm Farm System – This involves adding food scraps into a container with worms. The worms digest and break down the organic matter into a rich compost called worm castings.
  • Compost Bin System – This involves adding food scraps into a bin with great aeration to break down organic wastes. These systems can generate a lot of heat.
  • Bokashi Bin (or Bokashi Bucket) System – This involves fermenting food scraps in a bucket using a special bran. The bran has bacteria which helps to break down the foods. The bin requires an air-tight lid to keep the oxygen out. A bokashi bin pre-composts organic matter. After 2 weeks, the food scraps are “pickled”. Then you bury the contents in your garden for a further 2 weeks.

Comparison Matrix

Now for a quick comparison of a worm farm vs compost bin vs a bokashi bin:

Worm Farm Compost Bin Bokashi Bin
Decomposition Process Aerobic Aerobic Anaerobic
Key Benefits
  • Can add citrus, onions, starch foods etc…
  • Larger volumes
  • Kills pathogens, weed seeds and bad bacteria
  • Can add rotten foods
  • Suitable for indoors (e.g. kitchen or laundry)
  • Bokashi tea liquid fertilizer
Maintenance Some maintenance is needed Occasional turning with a pitch fork / shovel. Minimal
Speed 2-3 months for finished compost 6-9 months for finished compost 2-4 weeks for pre-compost
Volume Small – Medium Medium – Large Small
Potential Problems
  • Worms can perish if not taken care of properly
  • Can become anaerobic if not maintained
  • Pests
  • Can become anaerobic
  • Odur
Limitations
  • Limited capacity
  • Restrictive on the foods you can add
  • Outdoor only
  • Limited capacity
  • Cannot add animal poop
  • Used for pre-composting only
  • Need to continuously buy bokashi mix bag or bran
Harvesting
  • Brew worm tea for a liquid fertilizer
  • Rotate trays and separate worms from finished compost
  • Add directly into your garden
  • Create a small fallow in garden and bury

Combining Worm Farms, Compost Bins and Bokashi Bins

What do worms eat? Start with fruit and vegetable scraps.
What do worms eat? Start with fruit and vegetable scraps.

So should you combine and use different composting systems? Yes! My composting systems compliment each other.

The bulk of my every day food scraps go into my compost bin. This is mainly because my compost bin has a large capacity. I then top up my worm farm every few days. Worm can only eat so much food in a day. So the phrase less is more applies to worm farms.

I’m more careful about the foods I put into my worm farm. Some foods such as onion, bread and dairy should be avoided. Similarly, with a compost bin there are some foods you should avoid also. Like meat because it will attract rodents. And the trickier foods like dairy and meat can be added into a bokashi bin.

Conclusion

Even if you’re living in a small apartment, there’s a composting method for you. With that said, you now have a better insight into the differences between a worm farm vs compost bin and bokashi bins.

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