Composting is a natural way of recycling that involves breaking down organic waste into a nutrient-rich soil called compost. This process is facilitated by microorganisms like bacteria and fungi that decompose kitchen waste and turn it into compost. Personally, I find it gratifying to repurpose my kitchen waste by converting it into organic manure, which I then use to nourish my small organic kitchen garden. Composting is an effective way to minimize the amount of waste we unnecessarily send to landfills, which helps keep our cities clean and preserves the soil, while also preventing air pollution and contributing to a healthier planet. Since organic matter makes up around 60% or more of the waste generated in our households, it can be easily composted. Today, I would like to share with you a simple method for composting at home and creating organic manure from kitchen waste, which I practice regularly.
Segregate your household waste
The first step to composting is segregation of waste. I have two dustbins and one bag in my home.
One bin is for kitchen waste (vegetable, fruit scraps, peels, egg shells, coffee grounds etc and other organic matters).
The other bin one is for toxic waste (medicines wrappers, medical waste, used paints and spray, used batteries etc).
I uses bag for dry waste which is recyclable i.e. recycle newspapers, milk covers, plastic cans and glass bottles.
Tips – You can have green color dustbin for organic waste and red color for toxic waste.
2Bin 1 Bag System
What to compost? How should I compost ?
Composting is done by billions of microbes (bacteria, fungi) 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
1.Vegetable and fruit peels and scraps
3.Tea powder/Tea bags
6.Egg shells (has to be crushed before adding) etc..
Brown matter = High carbon
3.Small wood chips
4.Packaging Brown Paper
Composting Using Kambha
I am using Kh@dbin 3T Large Terracotta Composter proposed by Rise Foundation( it comes in different shapes and colors) which comes with ready made holes and also it can be stacked and placed in a shady corner in the garden. 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.
The middle unit B is interchangeable with the top unit A. Unit A and B comes with plastic woven wire at the bottom.
The bottom Unit or Unit C is for storing the almost done compost and does not have plastic woven wire and is close at the bottom. It remains always in the bottom.
First step is preparing your Composter
The bottom Unit C should be layered with 4 inches of dried leaves that acts like a bed for the water that gets discharged during decomposition.
Place a paper or newspaper in unit A to cover the weave. This is done to prevent waste from falling through the plastic weave to the bottom most unit C.
Then layer with dry leaves (pic below).
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 saw dust or dry leaves or brown content. We will call this “Pile”. Every time you add your kitchen waste (greens), you have to cover it with 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 or a stick twice a week for good aeration. Add a little buttermilk or semi composted material to start off the decomposition process.
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 – follow the same process above.
When Unit B is full, empty the half done compost from Unit A to Unit C to mature. Then shift Unit A to the top and start filling it with waste following the same process above. Like this you have to interchange Unit A and Unit B. Unit C will always remain in the bottom.
It will take 30-45 days to fully compost depending on the temperature.
Once compost in Unit C is done, sieve it and use it. You can add the remains back to the Unit A or B.
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 home garden.
MAINTENANCE FOR ANY COMPOST BIN or KAMBHA
I am practicing all the methods of composting mentioned above with success. 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 dry leaves or cocopeat /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. Adding more brown content to manage wetness.
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 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.