- What is composting?
Composting is simply the process of breaking down organic waste to compost, a nutrient-rich conditioner for soil.
- Why should we compost our wet waste ?
- 55% to 60% of daily waste generated in our kitchens is wet waste.
- All onion peels , banana peels, fruit peels, flowers, tea leaves, coffee powder etc and leftover food generated in our kitchen is compostable.
- The process of composting is very simple.
- What are the different methods of composting?
a) Aerobic ( with air or oxygen )
This is simple, since micro organisms are getting oxygen, they will decompose the food faster.
b) Anaerobic ( No air or No oxygen )
Wet waste is basically not given oxygen. It is simply put in an empty space and sealed from the top. Time taken for compost generation is increased.
It is Effortless, requires no maintenance and no maggots are visible to the human eye.
Chances of pathogen (disease causing microorganism) is high in anaerobic composting.
c) Vermicomposting ( with worms )
Some species of earthworms such as Eisenia Fetida feed on soft organic matter and produce waste from their bodies known as castings. These castings make a compost that is rich in nitrogen, phosphate and potassium. Porosity of compost generated by earthworms is high .
- Which method of composting is better?
Aerobic composting method is the best for faster composting . The bacterias generated are also not harmful for human interface, whereas the chances of pathogen bacteria generation in anaerobic composting is high. Vermicomposting requires more attention since not all types of food waste can be used and temperature, moisture and light conditions have to be more strictly maintained.
- What is the wet waste – dry waste proportion to be followed ?
- Wet waste – 1 part / dry waste 2-3 parts.
- In case there is meat / bones – dry matter to be increased to 5-6 times.
- What can be used as dry matter for composting ?
- Dry leaves are the best free available source of carbon for composting.
- Coco peat acts as a perfect water absorbent.
- Sawdust has a Carbon:Nitrogen ratio of 325:1, so less of it is required as compared to other dry matter.
- You can use old compost also to mix with existing wet waste . It will hasten the
- Soil can be added in case of matka composting only , as it is fully aerobic .DO NOT use soil for aerobic plastic composter, as it binds and makes aerobic composting anaerobic.
- What should not be added in a composting unit ?
Be careful in adding meat, bones, and fatty foods such as cheese / butter, salad dressing, and cooking oil as these foods ferment, cause odors, and can attract rodents.
- How can I make the composting process faster?
- By cutting wet-waste leftovers into small pieces. The smaller the better. This will increase the surface area of the wet waste and composting will happen faster .
- Adding an accelerator.
- What are different accelerators that can be used for composting ?
– Buttermilk ( Khatti Chach)
– Curd ( diluted )
– Bioenzyme – Undiluted (a few teaspoons).
– Leachate generated in composting ( especially in winters ,when temperature is low , it can hasten the composting process )
– Cow urine
– Jaggery diluted in water.
10.What is the normal time for composting ?
- All the soft peels in wet –waste will convert to compost in 3 weeks ( 21-24 days ) if wet/dry ratio is maintained .
- Hard peels like mango guthli , take time to compost and can be put back to composting unit in the next cycle
- What to do if there are red-ants coming into the compost pile ?
– Add coal ash , which you can collect from the press wala .
– Add Hawan Rakh / Chule ki rakh.
- What to do if my compost is giving out a bad odour ?
– Increase the amount of dry matter and leave it for a few days . It will settle . Bad odour comes if the water content is high in the compost.
- What to do if there are maggots or other insects ?
– Sprinkle Haldi / Neem Powder / Red chilli Powder.
– Red Chilli Powder can be sprayed on the outer covering of the compost bin. This will ensure the ‘compost labour force’ remains inside the unit , rather than coming out and hence will make the composting process faster.
- How can I be sure compost is ready ?
- During the composting process the temperature in the bin is high. it will fall once the compost is ready.
- All the wet matter will turn dark brow
- It will have an earthy smell.
15.How to avoid maggots in the compost bin?
Maggots are actually good for composting . They are the composting labour force . They actually do the composting . They will lay their eggs during composting and die after completing the cycle. But if you’d prefer maggot-free compost, then follow the tips below:
- Add more amount of browns (crushed dry leaves, sawdust / coco peat )
- Add neem powder / turmeric / red chilli powder on the outer layer of the bin
- Keep the bin in a good shelter to avoid rain water.
- Do not expose wet waste in an open container. Flies lay eggs on exposed organic waste, which in turn become maggots. Store wet waste in a closed container and for no more than a day before adding it to the compost bin.
- Should I dry the compost?
– Compost should be moist. You can use compost as it is. Compost will lose its microbial flora and fauna if sun-dried . Never sun-dry the compost.
- Can I add liquid foods to my compost pile?
- Moisture has to be appropriate for your composting. Drain the excess liquid from your food waste and it can be given as a liquid manure to your plants. Plants absorb the liquid nutrients very fast. Add the leftover wet-waste after all liquid is removed to your compost pile. Increase the dry matter as well.
- Can I leave the wet-waste open in-case of aerobic composting ?
Strict NO. If you keep the wet waste open and not covered it will attract fruit flies and bugs. Covering with dry leaves or newspaper is a must.
- Can coconut shells be composted ?
No, they are very hard and will not break down.
- Should I store the leachate?
Preferably not. Leachate should be removed and used within 24 hours. You can dilute the fresh leachate 1:10 with water and give it as a foliar spray to plants. Since leachate is formic acid (HCOOH ), it can be used for toilets and as a sink cleaning agent as well .
- How do I calculate the bin-size for my family ?
Average wet-waste generated for a family of 4-6 is 500gm /1kg per day. For 30 days the total wet waste is 30 kg . Since in a bin we are adding wet waste-dry waste matter in equal weight ( Double Volume ), then the bin size will be twice the monthly total wet waste. Since the first bin once filled will have to be kept on hold for 30 days , you will need at least 2 bins for an un-disturbed composting cycle. It is safer to go for 3 bins for the worst case scenario.
- What are the uses of generated compost ?
– Compost is a major input resource for your organic farming and can be added to enrich the soil.
– It can be used for mulching
-It can be added as top soil for your plants .
– Since it is rich in micro/macro nutrients, it will complete the nutrient requirements of your plant.
- How can I store ready compost ?
– In a Jute bag / Cement katta , under a shade / cool place
– Keep it partially moist to maintain the flora and fauna of the compost.
- How does compost make the soil healthier?
– stimulating the growth of beneficial microorganisms,
– loosening heavy clay soils to allow better root penetration;
– improving the capacity to hold water and nutrients particularly in sandy soils.
– Adding essential nutrients to any soil.
– The use of compost can also reduce the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers in your garden.
Some important knowledge sharing :-
Table 1. Carbon: Nitrogen Ratio of different items
- Food wastes 15:1
- Sawdust, wood, paper 400:1
- Straw 80:1
- Grass clippings 15:1
- Leaves 50:1
- Fruit wastes 35:1
- Rotted manures 20:1
- Cornstalks 60:1
- Alfalfa hay 12:1