The so-called 24-hr ‘compost’ harms the soil and all its produce, warns noted ecologist Dr Sultan Ahmed Ismail

Soil biologist and ecologist Dr Sultan Ahmed Ismail

If one were to sum up the entire body of work of this renowned soil biologist and ecologist in one word, it would be earthworms. Dr Sultan Ahmed Ismail’s lifework is centred on the techniques for recycling biodegradable waste into fertilizer using local varieties of earthworms and soil bioremediation. Dr Ismail, MD of Ecoscience Research Foundation, Chennai, has conducted extensive awareness sessions especially among schoolchildren to promote vermicomposting and environmental awareness. For him, the two are inseparable.

Here’s his statement—reproduced verbatim—on 24-hour or automatic composters being manufactured and sold all over India by various firms claiming that their machines produce ‘compost’ in just 24 hours or sometimes, 48-72 hours. Continue reading

Community composting method-16: These composters can solve city’s dry leaves burning problem. Is BBMP listening?

One of the Soil and Health’s leaf composters at Sobha Althea-Azalea, Bengaluru, busy doing what it does best: compost.

All this new stuff goes on top
turn it over, turn it over
wait and water down
from the dark bottom
turn it inside out
let it spread through
Sift down even.
Watch it sprout.

A mind like compost.
― Gary Snyder Continue reading

24-hr composters: There’s no microbe in this universe that can colonise in 24 hrs, says scientist Dr Manoj

Dr C N Manoj, Pelican Biotech.

Quite often, I find myself involved in long-winding email/social media conversations or phone calls with green volunteers of large communities discussing automatic or 24-hour composters to deal with huge quantities of kitchen rejects and garden clippings generated in their communities. It so happens that the individuals who care to discuss this issue threadbare are invariably those souls who believe in Nature’s perfection and are ready to live by its rules, patiently.

The following nuggets of wisdom pouring light on this topic are from scientist Dr C N Manoj, Founder-Director of Pelican Biotech. I have collated all the information he has shared with me through emails and phone calls here. This should help you bust any myth about these menacing machines of various brands that have carved out a sinuous trail through urban concrete jungles all over India and arm yourself with scientific facts to put forth your argument in favour of sustainable composting methods. Continue reading

Community composting method-15: Try this DIY using GKVK culture, cut costs

The sole aim behind conducting this experiment in my apartment was to check whether the compost culture sold by Gandhi Krishi Vignana Kendra (GKVK) located in North Bangalore can work just as good as any other culture/accelerator sold by vendors/innovators in the city.

Well, it does. At a much lower cost! Continue reading

Composting does not stink, Mr Minister! Our misconceptions do.

Minister for Bengaluru Development and Town planning K J George (Pic source: IE)

I wish we had a chance to ring in 2018 on a positive note, but our honorable Minister for Bengaluru Development and Town planning K J George’s statement leaves little to cheer for.

At a Smart City Mission meet held in the city yesterday, the minister announced that the state government was all set to opt for waste-to-energy (WtE) technology because “composting stinks”. Continue reading

Green cleaning hacks-1: Why vinegar is an integral part of my eco-friendly home cleaning kit

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If you ask me what led me to all my green pursuits, I can put my finger on this one colourless liquid without thinking twice: white vinegar (food grade).

Back in 2003 when we were living in the US, I first started using white vinegar as a rinsing agent in the dishwasher to remove those ugly white spots from the dishes. I didn’t know much about it then or else, I would have spent a lot less on those hazardous chemicals to clean glass and toilets and sent a lot less destructive agents down the drain to pollute the soil and water bodies eventually. Continue reading

Time to grow greens. Time to get back to basics.

Balconies don’t offer much leeway in terms of space and sunlight. I have tried growing many kinds of veggies including cauliflower, ridge gourd, bitter gourd, carrot, radish, etc. But the economics of space advises me that sticking to green leafy ones is the best way to go. Since I get most of the seasonal fruits and veggies from organic stores, thinking of keeping the limited balcony space exclusively for salad greens and some aromatic herbs, the ones that you want to just cut, rinse, shred and make a salad out of, all in a jiffy. Continue reading