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How to prepare compost at home?
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Lucknow
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December 29, 2010 - 7:51 pm
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Dear GG,

It will be nice if you could write your experience on preparing compost at home, step by step i.e.material being used, place, medium, actual process and time lag, etc.

It's really difficult to get compost. What we get at our place is cow-dung manure and that too at times may not be matured.

 

EmbarassedSmile

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Patricia
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December 30, 2010 - 9:33 am
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Hi,

I had come across this blog which has information on how to prepare Amrut Jal and Amrut Mitti (compost). I have bookmarked it and will try to make some myself!

Hope this helps - http://natuecocityfarming.blog.....t-jal.html

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Lucknow
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December 30, 2010 - 12:24 pm
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thanks. I shall go through it.

 

Regards

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Satish
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December 30, 2010 - 4:26 pm
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At least in a city like Delhi it would be impossible to lay your hands on cowdung? Know of any other way of doing this?

Satish

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terraceroses
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January 3, 2011 - 11:15 am
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Hi,

 

You could try the method described in

 

http://www.dailydump.org/

 

to prepare compost at home. I will try and share some snaps of composting on the terrace.

 

Thanks

kvs

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terraceroses
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January 12, 2011 - 2:59 pm
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Hi,

 

Here is another method. I used regular clay "gamlas" instead and it works fine.

 

http://www.urbanleavesinindia......sting.html

 

Thanks

kvs

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BRB
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January 12, 2011 - 9:35 pm
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Hi all,

I use a blue plastic drum (165 ltr) from which I've been making compost for the past 3 years quite successfully. Smaller drums cannot quite heat up the pile inside to decompose quickly. The drum has holes punched in - easiest way is to heat a screw driver and just stick it into the drum at the base level. Two or three holes should do.  I religiously put my kitchen waste (vegetable peels, stale bread, green leafy veggies that have rotted or fruits that are going bad except citrus fruits), garden prunings (discard any diseased leaves), dry fallen leaves from trees - I get the road cleaners in my layout to deliver a few bags full  in return for some chai paani money- and mix them up. Activators like cow urine ( local milk vendors who own cows can supply) or a fistful of urea etc speed up the decomposing. Keep adding the above mentioned till the drum is full (it is a magic drum that never really stays full ). And once in a while mix it all up with a long stick or a rake if you have one. In a hot country like ours, the compost is ready in three to four months.

Then the whole process begin once again...

There are so many websites devoted to composting.

happy composting

BRB

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geekgardener
Bangalore, India
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January 14, 2011 - 2:23 pm
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Brilliant write up!. Thanks BRB for taking the time to write.

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STS
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January 14, 2011 - 5:22 pm
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BRB, 

Very good post. This is one area I have been thinking about for the last one month, and a way to avoid buying compost and vermicompost. I am glad we have an experienced hand in the forum. 

As mentioned in your note, there are lots of literature on the net and even more youtube videos on preparing compost and vermicompost. 

I was at Sunday mandi in city market last Sunday looking for blue plastic drum. I did find what I was looking for to make compost but before I start I wanted to get the logistics right for making vermicompost as well. Now I am looking for earthworm in small quantity say 250 gms. The Karnataka Compost Corp sells earthworm but min buy quatity is 1 kg. 

I have 2 queries: 

1. I read on net that sometimes the compost prepared at home could burn the plants. Have you experienced anything like that. 

2. Have you tried making vermicompost, any tips for starters.

 

Thanks, STS

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terraceroses
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January 17, 2011 - 2:39 pm
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Hi STS,

 

You can get earthworms from the Horticulture department, Bannerghatta road, near Hulimavu. On the main road as you are driving towards Bannerghatta, this is on the right (cross IIMB, HSBC, Arakere lake and then you see the coconut development board on your right; thats the place). You need to take a U-Turn and then request the guard to open the gate. The place is generally empty, but lovely as  you drive through Sapota and Coconut groves for nearly a 1 km inside. You can get:

- vermicompost (Rs 3/- per kg)

- earthworms (Rs 300/- per kg, but they will give you 250 gms)

- some medicinal plants and foliage plants, like heliconia, anthuriums

- vegetable seeds (Typically Rs 3-5/- per gm)

Its a great place to visit. Do check first with them on phone to see if they availability. They also conduct terrace gardening classes sometimes.

 

- Compost done at home or any other compost if it is not fully done can kill plants. But if you wait long enough (3-6 months), there is no issue. I had two 50 litre old drums that were filled with kitchen waste. After about 3-4 months I planted roses in these and now one of them is about 4 feet high and flowered profusely.

 

- You could add in vermicompost itself into your compost pit/drum. Good wet vermicompost will contain a few eggs. These will adapt better than the ones that you can get from outside to your environment. It might also be more economical for you to get.

 

Thanks

kvs

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BRB
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January 17, 2011 - 10:55 pm
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Hi STS,

 

I use compost as a soil amendment/enhancer. But if you were to use only compost as a medium to grow plants, then it would kill or burn plants as it is a very rich medium. If you grow plants in pots, then mix home-made, well-rotted and finished compost  with ordinary garden soil. Depending on the plants that you want to grow, make the mix richer by adding more compost or leaner by adding more red soil. For eg: Roses, chrysanthemums, Dahlias and indeed many flowering plants need rich mixes of soil. Some like the geraniums aka pelargoniums need relatively poor but well draining soil mixes. Compost balances the red clay like garden soil available here in Bangalore by helping drainage as well as providing important nutrients and also attracting earthworms. So compost greatly enhances soil. But as KVS has suggested, I have never directly planted in a compost drum- so I will try when my next batch is ready.

Again, vermicompost is something I haven't tried as I've found these critters in many of my garden beds when I dig through so I've not found the need to do so. Also personally when I read through literature on how to make it, it seemed a bit tricky to me. But regular composting is a no-brainer. Since you are starting, always try to keep the carbon(the browns) and nitrogen(the greens) ratio roughly even and enough water to keep the mix on the moist side but not soggy. So if you start with your kitchen waste and green leaves, add equal amount of dry leaves or brown cardboard shredded into pieces and keep going... as mentioned in the last post. And as KVS suggested, it is always good to add a fistful of vermicompost into your compost bin.

And at the rates he mentioned for vermicompost it is better to buy it.

Further, one more thing I would suggest is that this is the right time to bag up some dry falling leaves that seem to be raining on us everywhere. All kinds of fallen leaves  are good, but smaller leaves of honge(pongamia), neem, disease free leaves can be collected, wetted, and packed in layers with a small amount of urea(a fistful) thrown in between,  in a large black garbage bag or any other large plastic bag and tied and left in a corner to decompose on its own for about a year. Smaller leaves are better as they decompose faster. This will make a good batch of leaf mold which an excellent soil enhancer. As far as I know, this is not generally sold or easily available for buying. so it is very much worth a try.

Anyways, the first step to gardening is a good healthy medium. So here's to your pot of healthy compost...

cheers

BRB

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BRB
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January 18, 2011 - 3:01 pm
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geekgardener said:

Brilliant write up!. Thanks BRB for taking the time to write.


Thank you. This is a wonderful forum and I commend you for creating it. Was much needed and me being from Bangalore  makes it so convenient to share and search for resources locally from various postings on your blog. Since we are on the subject of compost and soil, I have a question on mixing vermi compost with sand which I found some gardeners doing for raising seedlings or for improving drainage? Doesn't sand deter earthworms which are very important to the quality of soil? I kind of had an image in mind about the delicate critters getting injured by sharp grains of sand? Can you throw some light on this?

 

BRB

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STS
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January 18, 2011 - 4:13 pm
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kvs, 

Thanks for the info on Horticulture department. I will certainly plan to visit them this week. Vermicompost rates you mentioned are the lowest I have heard but I also heard that lower the rates of compost/Vermicompost higher is the percentage of cocopeat. 

 

BRB, 

Thanks for responding. I use a mix of Cocapeat, red sand, compost and vermicompost to prepare my pots. Some times I add handfull of sand as well. the result has been good so far. I only grow vegetables and on terrace. My idea of making compost at home was to reduce cost and use as enhancer only. I have collected few bags of brown leaves and as you mentioned its raining dry leaves all over the place. Will get started on composting soon. 

I have read that vermicompost is richer than compost and also while preparing vermicompost you will get vermiwash which is a good spray to use on plants after diluting. 

 

Regards, STS

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terraceroses
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January 19, 2011 - 9:51 am
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STS,

 

Hmm… Did not know about that %age of cocopeat influences cost. I have seen the compost pits at Horticulture department and it does not appear to have any coco peat. Mainly leaf litter from their groves. I have not had experience with the quality of the compost from there. The Vital Plant products also produces vermicompost; I think the product is called Nisarga available in 10 and 25 kg bags in Lalbagh and it definitely contains cocopeat.

 

Thanks

kvs

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STS
Bangalore
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January 30, 2011 - 9:12 pm
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BRB said:

Hi all,

I use a blue plastic drum (165 ltr) from which I've been making compost for the past 3 years quite successfully. Smaller drums cannot quite heat up the pile inside to decompose quickly. The drum has holes punched in - easiest way is to heat a screw driver and just stick it into the drum at the base level. Two or three holes should do.  I religiously put my kitchen waste (vegetable peels, stale bread, green leafy veggies that have rotted or fruits that are going bad except citrus fruits), garden prunings (discard any diseased leaves), dry fallen leaves from trees - I get the road cleaners in my layout to deliver a few bags full  in return for some chai paani money- and mix them up. Activators like cow urine ( local milk vendors who own cows can supply) or a fistful of urea etc speed up the decomposing. Keep adding the above mentioned till the drum is full (it is a magic drum that never really stays full ). And once in a while mix it all up with a long stick or a rake if you have one. In a hot country like ours, the compost is ready in three to four months.

Then the whole process begin once again...

There are so many websites devoted to composting.

happy composting

BRB


Hi BRB, 

 

Need help!

 

I purchased a large blue drum and punched 10 small holes with a drill on the upper portions of the drum. Added hand full of red soil at the bottom and 2 scoops of vermicompost, to this I added a bag of dry leaves. While I prepared the drum last week, I have been collecting all the organic waste from kitchen in a container for the last few weeks. I transferred this to the blue drum, added some more dry leaves on top. On this I sprayed some water to moist the dry leaves. 

 

Some more kitchen wastes were added in the following days and I kept it aside covered with a tight lid. I did also roll the drum just so that the contents will get mixed up. I have not added anything other than vegetable organic waste from kitchen, no meat nothing.

 

Today I opened the drum lid just out of curiosity, and I could see lot of small white worms on the top portion of the drum! Is this common during composting? What will happen to this as the days progress and as the content turn into compost? These certainly are not earthworm from the red sand or vermicompost I added initially. 

 

Regards, STS

 

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terraceroses
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February 1, 2011 - 9:31 am
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Hi,

 

Having all sorts of worms/insects is normal as they aid in the process. I would suggest a hole at the bottom to remove all leachate. Will aid in ensuring that your waste does not get rotten and start smelling.

 

Thanks

kvs

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aanandhi
Chennai
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February 1, 2011 - 11:50 am
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Hi STS,

Following is the website that has detailed information on earthworms.

   http://www.redwormcomposting.c.....e-worms/ 

 

The white worms that you see might be White annelids. Vermicomposting does not mean only contribution is from earth worms. There are other players in decomposing the organic matter. There will be lot more insects and worms. The earthworms are called surface dwellers meaning you want to have large surface area on top rather than the height. Also if you put watery wastes like mellon then water will be collecting on the bottom that needs to be drained. They are nothing but worm pee. It is best that your drain the liquid which is a natural fertiliser and pesticide.

Hope this helps.

Anandhi

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STS
Bangalore
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February 1, 2011 - 2:54 pm
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Hi Anandhi, 

 

I have not added earthworm in to the drum, just a hand full of vermicompost I purchased from Lalbagh recently. All I am doing now is composting, have not started on vermicomposting yet. Will wait for 3 more months to see how composting works out before venturing into vermicomposting. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and info. 

 

kvs, 

 

Thanks for your help and inputs. 

 

Cheers, STS

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BRB
Bangalore
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February 1, 2011 - 11:00 pm
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Hi STS,

It seems to me that you aren't doing anything wrong with your composting as such but maybe some teething troubles!!!

However, I've not seen white worms in my compost bin before.

A few comments :

1. Make a couple of drain holes on either side at about 1" or 2" above the the bottom edge of your bin. That would allow a lot of

liquid to drain but would retain some essential moisture inside.

2. As other bloggers above have said, shouldn't worry too much about these worms. In the process of decay a lot organisms

contribute.

3. if you find your composting material to be too wet, the drain holes should take care of it to an extent. Despite that if its too wet, if there are flies, and it doesn't smell good, stop watering (moisture from kitchen waste not counted) and add more dry matter like dry leaves, shredded brown cardboard, shredded newspaper etc, and mix up everything in the bin and leave it to rot for a while. Things would be just fine. Too much moisture or wetness and you'll end up with a slimy mess  but too little water and there will be no compost but just dry material sitting in your bin.Frown

4. the kitchen waste should not contain cooked, oily or greasy food.

Happy composting

cheers

BRB

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STS
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February 2, 2011 - 10:44 am
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Thanks BRB! 

 

I have religiously followed step 4. There are no rotten stuff from the kitchen, rice or other starchy material. Its mostly banana skin, remains of greens like stem, pealed skin of various vegetables and non-citrus fruits mostly papaya, tea leaves, egg shells(after rinsing the inside Smile) etc. To this I have added almost equal quantity of dry leaves. I added small qty of water on day-1 when I put the drum together to soften the dry leaves, I have not added water since then. I will do a check this week and as you suggested will add more dry stuff to contain water if needed. 

 

The link shared by Anandhi has the following "White Worms are common inhabitants of rich organic environments, such as is found in a compost heap or worm bin. In particular, they seem to favour acidic conditions, and in fact can be used as an indication of decreased pH in a worm bin. Commonly they will spring up (seemingly out of nowhere) when lots of acidic materials are added to the bin, or when starchy materials are added and allowed to ferment."

 

Going by this statement, I am not sure what would have made my bin acidic to attract white worms. Any tips on how to neutralize this? 

 

Does adding dry cow/goat dung/horse manure etc help in producing better compost? 

 

Cheers, STS

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