Kitchen waste composting at home

My first lot of kitchen waste composting was a success. I ran into problems with my second lot during Step 3 and found a solution – a fully sealed Soil Factory. Here’s my experience with composting at home.

Aerobic vs Anaerobic Composting? Which is better

After a bit of research, I decided that the only way to know if I could compost kitchen waste at home, was to try it out. There are 2 types of composting :

  • Aerobic composting, where exposure to air is part of the process. My main concern with this, given the quantity of waste my kitchen would generate was that it might attract insects and rats. My compost bins would need to be kept in my balcony/flower bed area as I live in a flat/appartment. Our society is generally rat and insect free and I did not want to risk changing that.
  • Anaerobic composting on the other hand, needs fully sealed composting bins with exposure to air restricted only to when they need to be filled or checked. I understand that exposure to air is not good for the microbes that are necessary for anaerobic composting. I felt that this method suited me best and did a lot of checking, before buying my bins.

My first month with anaerobic composting


I looked at a lot of options and chose the Trust Bin – fully sealed bins for anaerobic composting that come with enough Compost maker and Coco-peat for the first month, and  easy to follow instructions.

45 Drain wet veg waste

Drain wet veg waste before composting

Cooked food  waste from our kitchen includes cooked & raw chicken, a few chicken bones & egg-shells. Both the containers are kept next to my kitchen sink, and I keep adding waste to them. I empty them into the compost bin once a day. The containers are covered and there’s no smell at all.

45 Drain wet waste

Drain cooked food waste in a covered container with a sieve.

Step 1 : Filling the bin

  • I press the waste down, to squeeze out excess moisture and then empty it into the compost bin, adding a layer of starter powder over it. I use more starter than recommended, as I find this keeps the smell down to minimum. The bin is fully sealed and there’s no smell at all once it’s closed.
  • There is a very slight smell when the bin is opened, but this goes away within minutes once it’s closed. I imagine that very greasy food with a higher content of non-veg waste would need more starter powder to keep the smell down.
  • The bins need to be opened in a well ventilated, open area and should not get rain or direct sunlight. Our bins are in an enclosed flower-bed area/balcony. This seems to be fine for the monsoon season. I’m hoping it’s ok when summer takes the temperature up to 41degreesF.


The first lot of Compost maker (starter powder) comes with the bins when you purchase them. After that, I understand that the first lot of ready compost (kept according to instructions) can be used instead of the starter.

45 Compost step 1

Step 1: Kitchen waste layered with starter in the compost bin

Step 2: Pickling to get a ‘Pre-compost’

Once the bin is full, it needs to be closed and moisture is to be drained from day 3 of the start of this stage, according to instructions. This is the pickling process. It takes 2 weeks. The output is a pre-compost that looks like the original waste, but is changed in it’s physical state.

I was concerned about what would happen if I went on holiday and the water wasn’t drained at this stage. I learned that it’s not a problem. I read that draining of the liquid is not essential to the process, but I think I would not want to leave my bin undrained during wet months. I feel that a once in 5 days draining would be essential, to avoid a risk of excess moisture ruining the process.

The moisture/fertilizer that drained out of my bin smelled a lot. Here’s what I did to neutralise the odour :

  • Rather than drain a lot of liquid on one day, I drain a little every day (from day 3 of the pickling onwards).
  • I keep a container full of plain water, and drain the liquid into this. This makes it less concentrated and reduces the smell to such an extent that it’s gone in a couple of minutes.

The liquid fertiliser goes into my flower pots. If there’s too much, I just flush it down the toilet. If you pour it down an open drain, make sure to flush it with plenty of water to avoid any residual odour. It’s an amazing drain cleaner for blocked drains!

Step 3: Burying the compost as per instructions

I layered my pre-compost with Coco-peat according to the instructions that came with my bin. This method needs the bin to be covered with newspaper, but open to air. My first batch was fine.

My second lot of compost decomposed well, but I had a problem with flies and had to bury it in an open area. This is the part where you are likely to fail if you have inadequate knowledge.

Here’s what I learned by trial and error, reading articles online, and help from Trustbasket.

  • For no flies. Flies are the result of too much moisture. This can happen for a number of reasons :
    1. If material is not properly drained before composting.
    2. You forget to gently press down the old layer a little, before adding new material in Step 1. This removes excess air which is better for this anaerobic method, and I feel it also helps with draining the moisture out.
    3. If you don’t drain moisture  accumulated in the base of your bin (Step 2 above).
    4. If your open area for composting has no sunlight. This was my problem, as our home gets light and heat, but no direct sunlight. All open balcony and flower-bed areas are covered because we have a major problem with pigeons!
  • For no smell. The bin was to be kept open, except for a a layer of newspaper covering it and my first batch smelled a lot! I had layered my pre-compost in a large bucket, so I covered it with a large plastic basin & placed a weight on the cover for a couple of days. This made it airtight and there was no smell at all. After 2 days when I opened it, the bucket was completely odourless, and it was not a problem to keep it as per the instructions.
  • For quicker composting. My compost took more than 3 weeks because I’d forgotten to break up big chunks of fruit and veg before composting. Smaller pieces compost faster.
45 Compost

My first batch of compost, after layering with Cocopeat was a success.

A ‘Soil Factory’ – the solution to all the problems in Step 3

I wanted a fully sealed method to bury my waste, and discovered the Soil Factory. It requires a fully sealed bin and takes a month for the compost to be converted into soil. Unlike with the Cocopeat method in Step 3 above, the soil cannot be used as a starter for your next batch of composting, as soil has aerobic microbes in it.

I used dry mud that I got from the plant nursery nearby. There are 2 ways to do this.

  1. A layer of soil : pre-compost : soil in equal quantities
  2. An inch of soil in the base of the bin, covered by waste mixed evenly with soil.

I’ve tried the first method. It’s 5 days and there’s absolutely no smell and no flies. I don’t mind if it takes more time than the Coco-peat method. I’m planning on trying the second method with my next lot of compost. Will keep you updated on how it goes.

Read Make your own dirt and Bokashu Soil Generator to understand more about soil factories and help you figure what works best for you.

Visit the DIRT store in Bandra West if you want information on aerobic home waste composting for homes and housing societies. Here’s a post about them : DIRT Store Mumbai Recycling & Waste Management by Chuzai Living.

Here’s a playlist with videos on Aerobic composting. I tried this out with a small batch of waste and decided it would not work for me. I wanted a fully sealed method, even if it took longer. If you have any questions, please comment below. Use a pen-name if you wish to keep you identity private. Your email address will not be published.

Anita E Kohli is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.in.

Dear Levi’s India,

Buying a pair of jeans in Navi Mumbai is mostly impossible for me.

The problem is that i am ‘the average woman’ – busy trying to find that ‘perfect imbalance’ that helps me do the things i would like to, and still manage to do the things i need to, and not always succeeding. I’m either too lazy or too busy to have a regular exercise routine. I weigh 20 kgs more than i did at 20, but in my mind, i’m really very slim..

The shops at Navi Mumbai simply don’t cater to ‘slim’, older women like me. They stop at size 34, and usually only keep the skinny fit!

So, i visited the Levi’s shop at the Phoenix mall, Kurla the other day, because i thought that you had taken the trouble to manufacture jeans to fit every woman. I was pleasantly surprised to find my size – only you now mark every size a couple of numbers below the waist measurement (for example : a 34 is now marked 30 or 32)?

However, i walked away without a pair of jeans, simply because the skinny fit just does not do it for me. Like i did before, i’m going to have to really really look around a lot, to get a pair of jeans that fit’s comfortable.

..A sad customer

😦

How to organise your cupboard quickly

My cupboard used to  look nice and tidy. Clothes neatly folded and ironed. I used to love ironing, and cleaning my cupboard relaxed me. Until I started running my own home.

Then it became one of the long list of household chores I had to do to keep things running smoothly. I chose to run my home without a maid, but it meant it took a lot more time. So I started to read up on organising the home in a desperate effort to get things done quicker.

Now,  putting away the washing takes 5 minutes and I can find things easily.

There are days that I just leave all the washed clothes on the bed until they get magically put away – something I never did in the early years when I thought I needed to do everything perfectly.

I’m happier for it and so is my family.

Bin it, rather than fold it

37 Clothes bin

  • Plastic bins are great for segregating different types of clothing, as well as clothes that need ironing.
  • It takes very little time to sort the washing and throw it in the correct bin.
  • Wash and wear stuff goes onto hangers.
  • It’s easy to pull out over-full bins, sort & shove them back.

The 3 Basket set is nice as there’s a size to suit different categories of clothing.

It looks a little messy but it works really great! I use the time I save to sit down with cup of chai.

🙂

Anita E Kohli is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.in.

Our adventures with an IFB Neptune DX dishwasher

We purchased an IFB Neptune DX dishwasher, through Vijay Sales, Khargar, last year, as our previous dishwasher was old and no longer usable. I had a couple of friends who had IFB dishwashers and were very happy with their performance and I convinced my husband that it would be better than our previous brand Siemens, as the Siemens technicians would take very long to arrive, even though when they did, their work was excellent.

3 IFB machines and a 11 months later, we purchased a Siemens dishwasher, which we use daily, with no problems at all.

So we now are the proud owners of 2 dishwashers

  • A Siemens machine which runs

  • An IFB machine which does not (fortunately we have got rid of the tiny little cockroaches which IFB sent back along with the machine when they took it for repair)

This is our story . . .

A video of our IFB Neptune DX Dishwasher in action – mostly audio, with a visual at the end

Machine Number 1

Our new dish washer arrived on the 7th February 2012 and the piece had visible damage to the body. So, on our request, IFB gave us a new machine, within 48 hours, and this was installed at our residence.

Machine Number 2

This one worked well for almost 1  month and then started to give an F5 error, and stop mid cycle. We recorded this and showed it to Vijay Sales and the IFB technician, as the error would not happen every day.

We made many complaints as the machine would run normally when the technician visited, and they were not able to assess the problem just by looking at the recording. We also spoke to Mr Abhishek Sharma of IFB and the customer care at Vijay Sales, Khargar.

The IFB technician said that the water supply to our building had grit and particles in it, so we needed a filter, which they installed for us at the cost of Rs 2500/-

They also advised us to change the flexible water inlet connection we had to a metal pipe, even though the water pressure was high, which we did.

They then advised us to change the drainage outlet, even though the existing outlet was as per manual specifications.
So we changed the drainage outlet as per the technicians instructions

Finally, on April 19th, the IFB technician accepted that the machine had failed.

Machine Number 3

So, end April 2012, the third machine arrived. On 23rd July, 2012, it failed with the same error.

We filed a complaint and also spoke to Mr Kevit Patil and Mr K Rajendra both from IFB. A senior engineer visited and replaced the pump in the machine.

However, the machine did not start working, and the engineer said that the replacement pump was defective

Finally, on 11 November 2012, IFB took the machine for repair, after an assurance from Mr Kevit Patil that the machine would be delivered and installed at the same time, to avoid further inconvenience. In fact we especially requested delivery and installation at the same time, as we were unable to get further leave from work to be home, and IFB had inconvenienced us a lot already, for their many many visits.

On December 30 2013, after a reminder to Mr Kevit Patil via email and calling and demanding that the machine be returned, only then, did the company deliver the machine back, with filter broken, the cutlery tray missing and in such dirty condition that we had to treat the kitchen for cockroaches as tiny cockroaches kept coming out of the machine. Also, the engineer did not turn up for installation of the machine.

Through this whole one year, IFB has not visited as per our convenience morning or late evening, but only at 4 pm, which meant that one of us had to take leave each time. Also, we have had the stress of repeatedly following up to get any progress as Mr. Kevit Patil would often not accept calls or have his phone switched off. Since we could not longer bear this or take further leave for more repair work, we finally purchased a Siemens dishwasher and since then life has been much much easier, as it works!

We have filed a complaint with the Consumer Guidance Society of India, however, there has not been any response from them.