Home composting is easy
simplest system is to dig a pit, keep dumping the garbage into it, cover with thin film of dried leaves or soil and keep repeating it everyday, says SATHYA PRAKASH VARANASHI
How do natural materials produced around us get disposed? The simple answer could be ‘by composting’. Incidentally, archaeologists have studied places occupied by human habitation millions of years ago by studying the decomposed waste matter left behind and discovered new knowledge about how people might have lived then!
Composting as a process refers to, in simple language, letting the material rot and reduce to powdery form, reduce its water content and effect shrinking of the volume of the material, all achieved through microbial breaking of the cellular structure by bacterial action. Nature anyway does it, but we can do it our way and benefit from it.
For those who have access to ground, the simplest system is to dig out a 2’x2’x2’ pit, keep dumping the garbage into it, cover with thin film of dried leaves or soil and keep repeating it everyday.
Larger pits can also be used. It should be thoroughly mixed periodically and ensure no water flows into it. Some harmless fruit flies may fly over it, but ignore them or pour another layer of soil. Once this pit is full, dig another next to it. By the time the second pit gets full, the fist one may be ready with manure for use.
In Bangalore, an initiative called Daily Dump advices using Khamba system, a versatile idea applicable everywhere. It uses three earthen pots placed one over the other where we fill garbage in turn.
Daily dump of waste is to be covered with dry layer of saw dust or paper or dry leaves or dry mud, with or with composting culture media. The culture media like coconut pith manure and mixes produced in laboratories ensure the bio garbage gets composted fast and properly. Anyway, as one pot gets filled up, it is kept down while the next pot is being filled such that periodic mixing produces the manure as the pots take turn to receive the garbage.
The composting process produces a blackish liquid called leech and slightly smelling carbon gas which can be reduced by periodic and proper turning the mix over. Mixing provides it with aeration and supply of oxygen. There could also be some heat within the compost pit, which does not affect us.
What matters is to get soft, powdery, granular humus mix as the end product that is a great example of recycling the waste. While plants anyway grow in any soil condition, the compost mix as an external addition creates a condition with moisture retention, air penetration, plant nutrients, effective drainage of rain water and reduced soil erosion. As such, the plant grows with healthy roots.
SATHYA PRAKASH VARANASHI
- 4 Tips for Composting Fall Leaves (sierraclub.typepad.com)
- Guide to Building an Eco-Friendly Garden (everest.co.uk)
- Learn to Compost (lowes.com)
- FAQ’s from Clean Chennai @ Home workshops (thehindu.com)
- Composting 101 (parenting-success.com)