Composting at home is all about willingness to reduce the waste and some constant efforts before you get into the habit.
I love plants and the beauty they bring along, the green, earthly touch of nature that they add to a home is unmatchable.
While I love plants, I also agree they need to be looked after, watered, manured.
In my previous post on home decor, I mentioned about my love for creating something useful out of waste and so composting drew my attention.
I was tired of buying khaad (cowdung manure) and other fertilisers, so around 4 years back my journey of home composting to create good quality compost for my plants began.
Let me begin with telling you what composting is- Composting is a process where waste decomposes naturally to create fertile compost ( the output of composting). All the kitchen waste does eventually decompose, but if left in the bin it will go with the rest of the waste and take longer to decay and lengthen the decomposition process for other dry waste too, releasing harmful gases in the environment.
I first tried composting in a bin, without reading and knowing enough. It attracted bugs and smelled bad, the food did decay and i did get some good compost, but I had to find a better way of composting.
I bumped into one site that dealt with home composting supplies and instantly ordered a composter for our house. A simple 3 tiered set of large earthen pots. In 45 days my first batch of compost was ready, it felt beautiful , beautiful like the sand on the beach, or first rain drops, fresh and natural!
You may ask “Why Composting at home?”
For me, it started with an interest in creating something out of waste, I loved how my bin was almost empty with just a few papers and plastic packages, it felt so good!
If you have plants at home, then the compost is the best thing you can give to your plants. It’s like breast milk for plants.
What do you need for composting?
Well not much, you need 2 or more large bins/buckets/matkas(size depending upon the household size and kitchen waste generated), with tiny holes for compost to breathe, the second obvious thing is your kitchen waste. You will also need loads of this thing called “browns”, in the world of composting, browns comprise of dry matter like dry leaves, cocopeat, dry soil, papershreds etc.. You will need those browns (dry layering)to absorb the moisture from your kitchen waste, also this dry layering (of browns) acts as carbon and helps in decomposition.
Steps in composting
Install your unit in a space preferably closer to your kitchen.
Put a layer of cocopeat/dryleaves/newspapers.
Add your day’s kitchen waste, cover it completely with dry leaves and cover this further with paper, although covering with paper is optional. You can skip using newspaper if you have generous amount of browns.
You will need to continue doing this until your first container is full. Keep mixing the waste often with a stick before you put the kitchen waste everyday, this will help it aerate.
Kitchen waste usually will take upto 45 to 60 days to compost. By the end of this period you will find dark brown or blackish soil like matter that is devoid of any solid, visible food particle. If it has things like egg shells, bones and mango seeds, you may take these out and put these with your fresh lot of kitchen waste.
You will need atleast two to three of bins or earthern pots to turn and rotate your kitchen waste until it converts into compost. I use a 3 tiered composting unit, you may choose one depending upon your kitchen waste. For a single person or a family of 2 a two tiered pot system may also work.
Some common issues that you may come across in composting are-
A. Foul smell- If the smell travels out of the unit even when it is closed, then you may not be adding enough browns or your waste may be too moist. Add some cocopeat, soil or dry leaves and cover it well each time, this should help you.
B. Sight of maggots, ants, Lizards, spider etc. – well none likes to pet lizards, maggots and the likes of it. However, if you cover your daily waste with browns nicely and then use a paper, these will reduce. Also do note, that these creatures are harmless and help in composting process.I recently INVENTED (please let me use this term, I am so hoping that no one has made this concoction before) natural, chemical free mix of water, neem essential oil and lemon grass essential oil. It works wonders for fruit flies, plants pests, maggots etc.
Like most of the things in life, composting too comes with time and experience.If you want to progress towards a zero or minimal waste lifestyle, do begin it with composting.
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