Composting is nature’s or natural process of recycling. Composting biodegrades organic waste into a rich and organic substance called “compost”. Composting is done by billions of microbes (bacteria, fungi etc..) that digest the kitchen waste and turn into compost.
I personally do not like to waste my kitchen waste and find satisfaction and happiness in converting my kitchen waste into manure. I use that organic manure for my small organic kitchen garden. By composting we can reduce the amount of garbage we needlessly send to the landfills for disposal. It keeps our city clean, preserves the soil, prevents air pollution and make this earth a better place to live. Nearly 60% or more of the daily waste generated in our households is made up of organic matter which can be easily converted into compost. Today I am sharing with you a way to compost at home or how to make organic manure from kitchen waste all of which I am doing on a regular basis using terracotta home composter.
Segregate your household waste
The first step to composting is segregation of waste at home.
I have two dustbins in my home. One is for kitchen waste (vegetable, fruit scraps, peels, egg shells, coffee grounds etc and other organic matters). The other one is for toxic waste (glass, plastic, medicines, wrappers, used batteries etc).
I recycle newspapers, milk covers, plastic cans and glass bottles either thru recycler or raddiwala or in get used in other projects like making ecobricks or growbags for sapling.
Tips – You can have green color dustbin for organic waste and red one for toxic waste.
What to compost? How should I compost ? As we have seen earlier that composting is done by billions of microbes (bacteria, fungi etc..) that digest the kitchen waste and turn into compost. These composting microorganisms, require the correct proportion of Carbon and Nitrogen for it to do its work. Effective composting can be made with equal parts GREENS and BROWNS. Now let us move to what is GREENS and BROWNS?
Green matter = High nitrogen
Vegetable and fruit peels and scraps (except citrus fruits) , Coffee grounds (it is brown in color but rich in nitrogen), Tea bags,Flowers,Grass clippings,Egg shells (has to be crushed before adding), Cooked food (sometimes as it decays and gives a bad odour, so it is best to avoid adding it. )
Brown matter = High carbon
Dry leaves,Saw dust,Small wood chips,Straw or hay,Wood ash, Cocopeat, Shredded packaging brown paper, Shredded paper
What not to add
Meat, bones as it attracts rats and smells badly,Pet waste,Batteries,Diseased plants,Medicines,Plastic bags
Composting Using Caterpillar Terracotta Home Composter
I am using this Composter promoted by Rise Foundation (it comes in different shapes and size) which comes with ready made holes and also it can be stacked and placed in a shady corner in my staircase. It should be kept in the shade and should be protected from rain. You can cover it with a plastic sheet in case of heavy rain.
It comes in 3 units which can be stacked one on top of the other. Unit A, Unit B, Unit C and a lid. All units are same and can be placed in any position for easy handling. But I marked with A,B,C to give clarity on usage.
First step is preparing your composter
Place a paper or newspaper in unit A to cover the base. This is helpful to absorb any access wetness from your kitchen waste and help not to drop any waste from top units to below units.
Then layer with dry cocopeat provided along with DIY Kit.
The add your organic kitchen waste. If time permits, you can shred it into smaller pieces and add as it will fasten the process of composting.
Cover it with cocopeat or saw dust or dry leaves. We will call this “Pile”. Every time you add your kitchen waste (greens), you have to cover it with cocopeat or dry leaves or saw dust (browns). Waste should not be visible. Then cover it with a newspaper (to prevent flies) and close it with a lid.
Give it a good mix using a small rake (provided along with DIY Kit) twice a week for good aeration. Add a organic compost (provided along with DIY Kit) little buttermilk or semi composted material to start off the decomposition process – all these are accelerators, which add millions of bacteria to fasten the decomposition of waste.
Check the moisture level every time, you mix the pile. Sprinkle a little water and mix well, if the pile is dry. Add more BROWNS, if it is wet or soggy and mix well.
Once Unit A is full, shift Unit A to the middle and bring Unit B to the top.
Start filling Unit B & C – follow the same process above.
When the unit C is filled and unit A material has already passed 30 days – Compost is ready in unit A, else you need to empty the substance from Unit A to some other container to give few more days to ready Organic compost.
It will take 30-45 days to fully compost depending on the temperature.
Once compost in Unit A is done, sieve it and use it. You can add the remains back to the composter.
A fully done compost is dark brown and smells like earth. All your organic waste is converted into nutritious manure for plants. I call this the “black gold” which I use for my kitchen garden.
MAINTENANCE FOR ANY COMPOST BIN or KAMBHA
I am practicing above method of composting successfully. Whatever your method of composting, the same rule applies for composting. Read below –
Microbes need 2 kinds of food to do their work. Green and Browns Every time you add kitchen waste (greens), you should cover it with cocopeat or dry leaves or saw dust (browns). There should be an equal mix of green matter- (nitrogen) and brown matter (carbon) for the microorganisms to their work.
Proper aeration is ensured by turning or mixing the pile at regular intervals.
Check the moisture level every time you mix the pile. If the pile is too dry, decomposition will not take place. Sprinkle needed water and mix the pile well evenly. If it is too wet, the pile will have lot of maggots and also the pile will stink. So maintaining the correct moisture level is important.
Tips for faster decomposition The smaller the pieces, the faster the decomposition. So if I find time, I will shred the vegetable and fruit scraps into smaller pieces and add to the bin. Add a Organic compost or little buttermilk or semi composted material or even a little cow dung to start off the decomposition process.
Use the organic manure/fertilizer for your plants. Let us not waste our kitchen waste and let us contribute in small ways towards reducing landfill waste, preventing air pollution and preserving the natural landscape and make this earth a safe and happy place to live.
If you are facing too much problem of Maggots add Chilli powder to your pile else these maggots are good for composting and they died by themselves in the pile. You can apply following solution to get rid of the maniac of these maggots.
“I put a tub below the composter to trap the maggots and larva escaped from the composter and roaming here and there…. It works well” shared by one of the user – Mr. Devesh from Dwarka.
If you are facing too much problem of Fruit Flies/Ants add turmeric powder.
This information is provided by Ms Madhuri Varshney -She is doing home composting for more than 10 years using various ways. She can be reached thru firstname.lastname@example.org