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Composting at Home

A simple way to lead a more sustainable life

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06 May '24
4 min read


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If you are reading this, then you probably have already given starting composting at home a thought. I am sharing here the process that I follow for composting at home. The reasons of home composting are manifold and unique to you. 

The process that I follow for composting is fairly simple, and can be practiced by anyone in the least amount of space. I know of some fellow composters who are doing it indoors, but I would like to keep it outdoors for fear of creepy crawlies. But suit yourself.

Things that you will need

First things first, you will need the following:

1. A covered container (or two/three). Any of these would suffice: a compost bin (available online in plastic and earthen material), a bucket, a large earthen pot,  an empty, washed paint bucket, or anything of this kind. If you are using a bucket, or a paint bucket, you will be advised to drill holes on the sides. You will need close to 30-40 holes. In the paint bucket I used, I made the holes with a hot, metal wire, over a period of weeks.

2. Equal amounts of greens and browns. Greens comprise any kind of kitchen waste. Peels, leftover food, are both okay but it is advised that you start with dry kitchen waste and not add leftover food in the beginning of your composting journey.  Browns comprise of composting mix available online, coco peat,  dry leaves, (used) papers, etc. We avoid using paper since recycling paper prevents cutting down of trees but this will also do. In my experience, a mixture of coco peat and dry leaves comes out quite cost effective and efficient. 

3. A catalyst. The composting process will need a catalyst particularly if you are impatient. You can use microbes available in the market, a spoonful a week will do. You can also use buttermilk to trigger the process. Remember that green waste will turn into compost but without browns and catalyst, it will take time. 

4. A few sheets of newspaper or brown waste packing paper. 

5. A shovel to mix

 

Process

Step 1: Once your container is ready, line it with some browns for about half an inch.

Step 2: Put in your kitchen waste in the compost bin. Please remember to separate waste at home. Do not put any plastic in the bin. Some wrappers that are of paper and do not have plastic lining can be put in but it is advisable to initially not experiment. Just put in used tea leaves, peels, vegetable waste and at the most, leftover cooked food. 

Step 3: Put in about two-three handfuls of browns which should be nearly equal to your green waste. Cover the entire green waste. The purpose is two fold. Browns provide nitrogen that helps the composting process. Second, the browns will cover the greens and prevent any flies from hovering around your waste. If you do see flies, do not worry. Composting is a natural process and will attract some life.

Step 4: Cover the mixture with a sheet of paper to protect the mixture from smelling and attracting fruit flies, house flies, dragon flies, ants, etc. Replace the lid of the container. 

Repeat steps 2-4 everyday till your container is filled. 

Once the container is filled, try to stir the mixture every few days to ensure adequate air goes in. The mixture should not be too dry. If it becomes, too dry, sprinkle some water on it. Over a period of the next month, the mixture will reduce to about one third of the quantity. Compost will be ready in 45- 60 days. Some things take longer to compost. You can sieve the mixture and whatever is not yet ready can go back to your browns and be added to the compost again. Sieving is optional but advisable as things which have not yet decomposed will continue to do so and sometimes may smell when added to plant pots. 

Ready compost will smell and feel like moist, fresh earth, that earthen smell you get when rain falls on dry mud. 

This compost can be used in plants every two weeks. It is not as strong as cow dung compost and does not burn the plants. Ready compost can also be used to substitute browns in the next batch.

As you will see the compost takes almost two months to be ready. So it is advisable to have two -three buckets so that you don't have to wait for the bin to be empty again before you start the next batch. In my experience, over a period of years, you will find several different kinds of compost bins and be able to see which one suits you best. 

  (Photo by Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash, Featured Photo by Lenka Dzurendova on Unsplash)

Category : Nature


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Written by Toolika Wadhwa

Teacher. Reader. Sustainability Enthusiast.