My own home composting experiment, my own little triumph!


20

These last two years I have spent experimenting with various community composting methods for our apartment and once a system fell in place, it got boring. Nothing more to work on, no more failures and no more small, sweet triumphs.

I thought of composting for my own garden without depending on the community compost sold at a price. We use Up’Grade (Reap Benefit) method for this which is a cocopeat-based inoculant sold at Rs 9 per kg. I bought 3 kgs of Up’Grade from the facility office and got going.

For large-scale composting, we use rectangular-shaped milk crates and all the kitchen waste mixed with the inoculant goes in all at once. The temperature goes up quickly and the process starts. But at individual level, I could go on adding waste day by day and hence, had my own doubts about the thermophilic stage which is essential for killing pathogens and weed seeds. Anyway, no harm in experimenting, right?

I bought a plastic basket and punched a few holes at the bottom. To prevent leachate leak, I placed a few handfuls of Up’Grade at the bottom and started layering the kitchen waste. Whenever I had time, I mixed the waste with the inoculant. When in a hurry, I layered it and placed a plastic sieve to keep fruit flies at bay. Yes, I did chop the rejects into smaller pieces for faster breakdown and in fact, grated the watermelon skins. No citrus peels went in.

The experiment started on November 19. I put almost all the cooked leftovers into this bin. It took 8-9 days to fill up. I dug my hands in once in a while to check the temperature. It was warm and I could see white fungal mold working on the waste. A few worms here and there, too. No mixing or turning was done. No leachate loss. No smell whatsoever.

When I opened the bin on December 7th, 20 days after the experiment started, all the cooked kitchen waste had disappeared. Uncooked greens had become brown and stringy. On the same day, I threw in a few handfuls of old compost, mixed it well, put a cloth bag around the bin to prevent moisture loss, covered it with the sieve and left it untouched for one more week.

 

When I took out the compost today, it smelled so much like the one we make in our community. Nice to touch. I have no plans of sieving this compost as there are only a few semi-done brown leaves in it. A few days later, it will go back to my pots where earthworms are doing what they do best: nourish the plants.

This much of compost is enough for the plants growing in two balconies. The remaining kitchen waste will be sent for community composting. So far I have spent Rs 200 for two bins and one sieve, and Rs 30 for 3 kgs of Up’Grade. In all, I might have used not more than 1.5 kgs of Up’grade to compost eight days of kitchen waste.

I cannot say I have found all the answers for a non-messy home composting method. If you give it a try, you might face a different set of challenges. But I am more than satisfied with the compost I have got and ready to get started with a new bin.

To procure Up’Grade, please contact:

Reap Benefit,
#1023, 3rd Cross, 13th Main, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar,
Bangalore – 560038, India
+91-9986615136/ +91-9886361805
info@reapbenefit.in

All still. In perfect harmony.

Harmony. A multi-hued one.

21 thoughts on “My own home composting experiment, my own little triumph!

  1. Hi Savita, wouldn’t the holes in the dustbin (all through the sides) attract fruit flies? is that why you have placed two baskets one over the other? I have made very few aeration holes in my bin and hence the composting is not happening at a fast pace. If I make big ones, it becomes home for fruit flies…

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    • Hi Geetha,
      My balcony is a windy corner. Actually, the outer fringe of the basket was drying due to excess aeration. That’s why I placed it in another, tried to cut the airflow by reducing the perforated area. I did face fruit flies problem but it wasn’t much and not on the sides. I saw them hovering over the bin sometimes. The air circulation took care of it.
      -S

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    • Geetha, why don’t you buy a similar basket and put a cloth bag around it? It will ensure just the right amount of aeration without attracting the flies. You can cut the bottom portion of the bag so that the holes get air circulation. Just a suggestion…

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  2. where did you buy the cocopeat from ? is it available outside bangalore, in other cities ? I am new to composting, and added buttermilk and mud to kickstart the composting, The termperature in the pile has not gone up, and when I dig deep to stir up the pile, the deper layers give out a sickeningly sweet smell. Is there something else I should be doing ?

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    • Hi Smita,
      It’s not just cocopeat, but a cocopeat-based inoculant which speeds up the composting process. Composting does happen with the ingredients you have been using but it takes its own time. Since you say it smells ‘sweet’ and you have been turning the pile, looks like nothing is going wrong, at least.
      For Up’Grade, do get in touch with http://www.reapbenefit.org. Hope it works for you. All the best. 🙂
      -S

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  3. Hi Savitha, what’s the difference between cocopeat and cocopeat inoculant? Where do u get this inoculant from? I have done anerobic composting so far. This is the first time I will be doing aerobic composting, please do guide me.

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    • Dear Malini, cocopeat, made from coconut/coir industry rejects, is being used as a growth medium extensively these days. It is light, carbon-rich and nutritious. To this, essential microbes are being added to speed up composting, tackle odour issues effectively. Because of the carbon content, cocopeat-based inoculants make the compost balanced in terms of C:N ratio. Pls visit the community composting category. Almost all vendors who have been using this solution for large-scale projects also have a home composting solution and the kit includes this particular inoculant. Pls get in touch again if you have any queries. Thanks. 🙂

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  4. Hello savita, as aways interesting to read your experiments , my segrgation and community composting in Garden Estate is going well and i should be able to give a report in 15/20 days. Want to speed up a little the process. Have been looking at some innoculants , Up Grade is one ( but unable to get any details from their site or bigbasket link ) other is the GKVK one u mentioned, so far just old compost, cowdung, sour butter milk have worked , Let me know
    keshav chander jaini

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