26 July 2009

Composting my kitchen waste

Devoid of actual experiments to perform I have actively sought a lifestyle where small random trials of qualitative nature have had to satiate my curiosity to learn. The latest addition to this repertoire of experiments is my long term trial of composting.

If you lived in Seattle and weren't 'green' you were considered an abnormality. So it's rather ironic that I am only able to get around to composting on my return to India. Right, so I did a bit of googling to understand what it means and decided what would be best. Basically you can do the worms bit, vermicomposting or you can do it the natural way i.e., aerobic decomposition. Since I live in an apartment I didn't want creepy worms to suddenly break free and have no where to go; besides if they were to inexplicably die, I wouldn't survive the shock. The first time I had a summer planting season I managed to kill my entire collection due to water abuse and I am yet to fully recover from that massacre. So decomposition it was. Luckily, I found an ad in the newspaper about a composting demo at a store called daram. Do check out the blog; I particularly enjoyed this short film on weaving. Definitely, going back to shop there; they have plenty of lovely local cotton woven into the apparel.

Anyhow, the set up is quite simple. Its a 3 tier terracota Khamba (see picture). The protocol is 1-2-3 oh, and 4-5:

1. Dump waste in top most pot. Put 1:1 (volume) of dry and wet waste. Most of the kitchen waste is wet so you can add dried leaves and newspaper to make up the dry portion.
2. Stir daily or minimally, once a week.
3. When 3/4 th full dump into middle pot. Continue to fill up top pot.
4. When top pot is full the second time, shift middle stuff to bottom pot and move top stuff into middle pot. Essentially you are moving down through the pots as each gets full.
5. Patiently wait while nature and microbes do their job.

Simple, right? I dumped in my waste today with extreme satisfaction and have opened the lid at least 5 times since the morning to check if anything has happened. Neither strangely nor surprisingly nothing much has happened in the last 12 hours. This is going to be one long experiment. But I am quite excited to be composting. I have been warned that there will be maggots at some point but not to worry about them. If they are annoying, I could give them a kiss goodbye by sprinkling red chilli powder into the mix.

The most delirious piece of news about the composting pile is that I can dump the generous quantity of pigeon poop my balcony accumulates. Finally, there is some benefit of leasing, umm... I mean, forcibly sharing my balcony with the pigeon mafia.

If you are in Bangalore the set up is available at Daily Dump. For Hyderabad, I have the contact info. Please leave me a message with your email and I'll get the info to you. There are tonnes more instructions and the Daily Dump website above covers it all. And if you have composted before please let me know what I shouldn't learn the hard way!


  1. nice! curious about the cost so can deduce the market it is being catered for. can you let me know the price, please? did not find it on the website.


  2. I paid Rs 850 for this version. This is the small size for 1-2 people; don't know how much the larger one costs

  3. I have had a khambha at home for a long time. I love it, but it's tempermental.

    You would have found out by now that there'll definitely be maggots ; in fact you need them for the composting process. However in my khamba the maggots occasionally feel the need to get out (I think it happens when its cold). Also probably due to bad maintanance; you need to stir and keep it at the right moisture etc. When they do that they do it en masse and then its a bit of fun :-). I'm personally not too squeamish, but it just gets difficult to negotiate the worms wandering all over the apt. My wife is more squeamish so we don't use it much nowadays.
    Other people seem to have much less trouble ; and I'm one of the few I know who live in an apt. and have a khamba, that makes it much more easy for the maggots (that's a yucky name, but they aren't so yucky in reality, atleast when they're dry) to come visiting.

    Anyway, I don't know when you wrote this post, and you may already have considerable experience with composting by this time. If you want do ask something, you could leave a comment, and it'll trigger a mail to me (I think).


  4. Hi,
    I wanted to know what to do with the compost? I mean how is it useful if you do not have a garden

  5. Hi i live in Hyderabad I want the contact information regarding Khamba in Hyderabad.

  6. Hello Vivveck,

    This is a late reply, but if it helps, I got mine at Daram in Begumpet. It's a handloom store that also sells other ecofriendly products.