DIY – Compost at Home

DIY – Compost at Home
This post is about how you can turn your kitchen food waste into rich nutritious compost and be more environment friendly by not sending your food waste to the landfill. Also, Composting makes you feel like a super hero, so this post is also about How to be a super hero!
There are a million ways to compost kitchen waste. When we had a large backyard during my childhood, dad and me would dig a pit, put all dry leaves and kitchen waste into it and when its near full, cover it with mud and let it sit there for months. But in urban living, you need a different approach.
The process of turning kitchen waste into rich compost can be done in different methods.  Aerobic, anaerobic, bokashi, vermi, etc., etc. I won’t confuse guys with all the details, a little bit of education and then I will show you how I do it at home.
How to compost at home
What is a compost? How long does it take?
Compost is basically decayed organic matter that is rich in nutrient. Its a natural process of breaking down of food matter, combining with some other elements and turning into manure for the plants. Depending on how you do it, If you are doing it at home, your first yield should take anywhere from three to six months.
Note: There are no such thing as instant composting. And if you’ve come across an instant composting machines, its a SCAM! You cannot make a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant!
how to make compost at home

Composting for beginners!

For beginners the aerobic composting (This type of composting needs oxygen) is great to understand the process. I have an aerobic composer.
How does it work?
To compost anything under the aerobic process, you need 4 things
Wet ingredient (Kitchen waste) + Dry ingredient (Dry leaves, coco peat) + Accelerator (Start the Process) + oxygen
Wet ingredients: Vegetable peel, fruit peel, leftover food, eggshells. I put bones too but occasionally add neem cakes to my compost bin too(If you are a beginner I would suggest you dont put bones) Drain all sambar and curries into a sieve and only put the solids.
Dry Ingredient: Dry leaves are best, but for the town and city dwellers, coco peat bricks are readily available in plant nurseries or if large online grocery stores deliver in your city.
Accelerator: This is the ingredient that will provide the good microbes to get the process of composting started. Cow dung slurry (cow dung mixed with water made into a milkshake consistency), super sour butter milk (Keep buttermilk in a warm place for 3 to 4 days) or there are some ready microbe powders available in the market. You will need the accelerator for till you get your first yield. Then you can simply use one handful of you compost as an accelerator.
Oxygen: Is currently available in abundance (hoping) and free, not sure how its going to be in future. So until such time, lets make use of it.
When all these four ingredients combine, you get a sweet smelling black gold that you will fall in love with.
Enough of the theory, lets get into the practicals..
I use the Hasiru Dala composters. And here is what I do
  1.  I collect my wet waste in the kitchen in a bin for a day or two.
  2. I drop it in my compost bin and add equal quantity of coco peat into it.
  3. To start the breakdown process, I add a hand full of ready compost.
  4. Once a week, I shake the bin to mix the ingredients in it and let more oxygen in.
  5. Once the first bin is full, I start using the second bin and do step 1, 2 and 3 every second day.
  6. again once a week, I shake both bins to mix the stuff in it.

Since I add my garden waste into in, my two bins fill up in two to three months, so I bought a pair of plastic buckets that have a lid, I poked some holes into them so there is aeration and now I use them as my compost storage bins. once in a while I spread my compost on a tarp and let it dry a bit, so I can sieve the fine compost out and add it to my plants and put the bigger pieces back into the composting bin for further breakdown.

What can go wrong with my compost?

Only too things happen. Either your compost is not breaking down or you have a big pile of fat maggots in your bin.

Composting doesnt happen if your pile is too dry, remember you need equal amount of dry and wet ingredients. At all times you need to have a moist pile, not wet not dry. So add a little water or sour buttermilk to give it a boost. Keep going! Compost is very forgiving.

Big fat maggots happen if your compost pile is too wet, balance it with adding more coco peat. Dont try to kill the maggots or freak out like you are under attack. Maggots are our friends and they are harmless. If it freaks you out, mix the coco peat in, cover the pile with a thick layer of coco peat and leave it aside for a few days and it will settle down. Use the second bin for the time.

What else?

  • Store your compost bin in a place where it is not under direct sunlight or rain. Sunlight will dry it and rain will make it more wet.
  • Keep your bin covered at all times. Know that all insects love a warm moist pile of dirt, so insects tend to get attracted if you dont keep it covered.

 

 

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