Wednesday, 16 March 2011

3 mistakes of my composting

When I moved from vermi composting to Daily Dump - I thought I had found the perfect solution without having to do anything.. almost. Daily Dump is a cool product, comes with a neat manual and troubleshooting tips, but I must admit that initially, I did not follow all the instructions by the word either because I was lazy or because I did not attempt to understand the science behind the whole thing or both.

First mistake - Not enough dry leaves:
I initially thought this was for containing moisture in order to restrict the population of maggots (maggots actually aid the composting), yet I was careless and failed. When I started adding dry leaves/saw dust, I saw better results. I later got to know that the carbon in the dry leaves is required to offset the Nitrogen rich kitchen waste by providing fuel for the composting process. On cold winter mornings, one can actually see the vapour rising as one stirs the pile.

Second mistake - Not enough water:
I was so scared of maggots that I deliberately kept the pile a little on the drier side and was happy to not see many maggots. And the result - a very high soluble salt content (measured in terms of electrical conductivity) in the compost. The normal levels are less than 1 m mhos/cm but my compost had a value of 12!!

Third mistake - excluding citrus peels completely:
I somehow thought citrus was bad as it would make the compost acidic because I read that we need to balance it by adding baking soda. Actually, a slightly acidic compost and hence a slightly acidic soil is actually good. I did use the peels in our dishwashing powder along with soap nuts and shikakai. However, the compost turned alkaline with a pH of 8.47.
So, these days, I put the odd lemon peel into the pile.

More mistakes and remedies can be found at DailyDump..

The NPK values were satisfactory with Nitrogen being higher than normal but I am happy since our soil lacks N.
I have started using earthworms on semi decomposed waste, so this time, the compost should be of much better quality.

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