We often receive emails from our readers, asking doubts about their experiments with sustainable living. So, here’s a section dedicated to you – TBI’s ‘agony aunt’ for all things green.
Earlier this week, Suman Sharma, a Bengaluru-resident, got in touch with us and shared that she collects dry leaves from her street every day and wants to turn them into compost. Since she is low on space, Sharma would like practical tips on how she can prepare compost without a big set-up.
To help her out, we got in touch with HB Singh, a resident of Mumbai who has helped turn the trash collected from his housing society into 400 kg of compost, which is used to maintain a lush garden.
We also contacted Mrunal Patel, a resident of Pune who turns her wet waste into compost and recently started selling it to her friends. Here’s what they say.
Keep this ready
Compost needs proper ventilation, feed and regular mixing for it to be stink-free and healthy.
As a beginner, you may have to be extra careful about these factors, but don’t let that stress you out. We have curated a list of composters and depending upon the number of people in your home, go for a one-person kit, 2-3 people kit or a 4-people kit.
These buckets have tight lids and ventilating holes to make your work super easy. They come with remix powders that combat the stink of decomposing food and act as catalysts to turn wet waste into compost. Click here to get the kits.
If you have some experience in composting, you can choose either buckets or boxes—whatever is available at your disposal.
How to make compost from dry leaves
Singh shares that if the volume of the collected dry leaves is moderate, they can fit into a regular 18-litre bucket (or one bucket from the composter kit).
Please note that the same procedure can be followed by those who want to compost their wet waste. But adding dry leaves as the first layer is a good idea because they won’t release water.
Here’s a step-by-step procedure to compost your waste, as shared by Singh:
- Sun-dry the leaves until there is no moisture left in them. Crush the dry leaves or turn them into powder before adding half of the total quantity to a bucket. Keep the other half aside, for later use.
- Add a layer of the remix powder or add some cow dung to the bucket. Let the microbes in the dung or powder do their work for 8-10 days.
- If you have used cow dung, make sure you stir the mixture once every day. This aerates the leaves and wet waste and helps in decomposition. If you are using the remix powder, you can omit the step.
- In about 8-10 days, the mixture will start releasing some water, and that is your cue to add the remaining dry leaves, some at a time. Continue this over the next few days.
- After two weeks, you can start adding fruit peels, vegetables skins and food remains to the compost mix.
- When the bucket is half full, switch to a second bucket and let the first one rest. Make sure you close it with a lid. In case of the compost kit, let the bucket fill up completely before going to the second one.
- By the time the second bucket fills up (should take about three weeks), compost will be ready in the first. Utilise it in your garden and continue with the cycle.
To get a compost making powder, click on this link. You will only need to buy it once. Once the block gets over, use the compost made in your home as the catalyst for the next batch.
How to use compost
Mrunal Patel lives with her husband and son, and the family consumes enough fruits and vegetables to be made into compost for their garden.
So here’s what she suggests you do with extra compost
“Start with growing plants in your home. If you don’t have a garden, you can decorate your rooms with ornamental plants. Your second option is to give away extra composting powder to people you know who maintain a garden. In fact, gardeners who work on minimum wages would be delighted to get the free compost,” she says adding that putting compost to trees in public spaces is a great way to maintain greenery in your neighbourhood.
Along with the ornamental plants, you can go for vegetables that will help you have organic meals! Get grow kits by clicking on this link and start your own balcony or terrace garden.
Recently, Patel found out about the massive demand for compost in her social circle, so she started making small batches of the compost and selling them at a minimal price. Singh goes a step ahead—he makes batches of 20 kg compost and sells them to a nursery.
This latter solution may require you to set up an official business and is a long-term goal.
In conclusion, composting is a great idea—for those who have a garden as well as those who want to utilise their wet waste. We always encourage people to take it up to ease the stress on our environment.
If you too have a query like Suman, reach out to us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)