How to speed up your compost

If you want your compost to break down faster, there are a few tricks you can try to make this happen.

  1. Chop the scraps into smaller pieces:

It’s no surprise that smaller pieces of waste will decompose faster. You can chop your food scraps and shred the leaves and other dry waste before adding them to the compost.

2. Keep your compost moist:

Microorganisms need moisture to break down organic matter. If your compost is too dry, it will take too long to decompose. So, make sure you add enough wet waste to keep it moist. However, don’t let it get soggy.

3. Add a compost accelerator:

You can add buttermilk or cowdung slurry to your compost. This will work as a compost accelerator and speed up the process. Adding compost microbes can also do wonders to quicken the process.

4. Turn your compost:

Turning your compost will ensure more oxygen supply which will speed up the process of aerobic composting.

5. Add a handful of finished compost:

Adding a handful of finished compost from your previous batch can help accelerate the process of decomposition. If you do not have finished compost, you can buy it here.

Try out these tips and let us know how it turns out! If you have any tips of your own that will speed up the process of composting, we’d love to hear them too! Let us know in the comments.

What is Compost?

Formation of Micellium during
Dry Leaf Compositing Process

Household composting and biopolymers in food waste

Athul Seshadri Ramanujam 

Composting is a biological process in which microorganisms degrade organic matter in biodegradable waste resulting in the emission of CO 2 , H 2 O (g), NH 3 (g) along with the production of a nutrient-rich solid substance known as compost. Composting is often described as a two-stage process – mineralization followed by humification. The process of mineralization refers to the degradation of decomposable organic matter. The type of organic biomass to be decomposed determines the type of microbes to be used for its degradation. Mesophilic microbes decompose easily oxidizable organic matter to form simple substances such as CO 2 and H 2 O (l) and other simple organics and inorganics. The process temperature during mesophilic decomposition can rise until 45 o C. Food wastes generated either from industries or at home consists of biopolymers – lignin, cellulose, hemicellulose, proteins and lipids, are decomposed using thermophilic microbes which operate at a temperature of 55 – 65 o C and at times even higher. As a result, monomers specific to the biopolymers in the biomass are produced. Also, since the thermophilic microbes operate at a higher temperature, simultaneous sanitization of biomass takes place. This prevents the process inhibition by pathogens. After a certain point in time, the process temperature starts to reduce as the activity of microbes starts to slow down due to the lack of biomass. During and after cooling, stable organic matter (mostly humic substances) are formed. This is known as compost.

Athul Seshadri Ramanujam 
Graduate Student, MSc. in Process Engineering (MPE)
Faculty of Mechanical and Process Engineering
Hochschule Offenburg

Badstraße 24, 77652 Offenburg

5 Eco-friendly things you can do while staying at home

Image by Scott Webb from Pixabay

Staying at home doesn’t have to mean being bored all the time! In fact, you can utilise this opportunity to slow down, spend time with yourself and your family, and relax. Here are five eco-friendly things that you can do while you are practicing social distancing.

  1. Start composting:

You can start composting at home to turn all the biodegradable waste that you create into rich manure. Eating home-cooked meals all day can result in a lot of kitchen waste anyway. This doesn’t have to go to waste. You can turn them into useful material right within your home, without having to step out. Composting is pretty simple. For now, you can pick up any old container at home and start adding the waste to it. You need to add both wet waste (fruit and vegetable peels, leftover food, etc.) and dry waste (dried leaves, twigs, coir from used coconut, etc.) Just make sure the container has a few air holes in it. You can upgrade to the Prapt Compost Bin when the situation normalises.

2. Make an eco-brick:

An eco-brick is a plastic bottle stuffed with non-recyclable plastic materials.

While you are at home, spend some time to segregate your trash. While the biodegradable items can be composted, and materials like metals and hard plastics can be saved for recycling, you can use the non-recyclable plastic items like food wrappers, plastic straws, etc. to make eco-bricks. First, make sure the wrappers are clean and free from any food particles, then, cut them into smaller pieces. Grab an old plastic bottle and start filling it with the pieces. Use a stick to compress the waste inside the bottle and continue adding more to it. You need to fill the bottle so densely that it doesn’t deform when you sit on it. Once the bottle is filled up completely, you can keep it aside and start filling up another bottle. Once you have enough eco-bricks, you can use your creativity to make your own cool DIY projects with them! If not, you can donate them to organisations that use them for the construction of furniture, walls, and other structures.

3. Prepare bio-enzyme:

Image by Asimina Nteliou from Pixabay

Commercially bought floor and bathroom cleaners contain a lot of chemicals. These get washed down the drains and end up polluting water bodies and aquatic life. Bio-enzyme can be prepared easily at home and can be used as a natural multi-purpose cleaner.

To prepare this, you will need jaggery, water and citrus fruit peels in the ratio of 1:10:3, and a plastic bottle.

Heat the water and add the jaggery to it. Keep stirring till it gets dissolved completely. Let the mixture cool down to room temperature. Then, add the citrus peels to the plastic bottle and pour the jaggery water into it. Close the lid tightly. Open and close the lid twice a day to release the gas. The enzyme will be ready to use in 3 months. You can then sieve the contents and compost the peels. You will be able to prepare this enzyme much faster from the next time by adding a small quantity of the enzyme from the previous batch to the plastic bottle.

Use only a plastic bottle for this process as it allows the gases to expand when it is released.

4. Declutter your home:

Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

We all have things we don’t need in our homes. Rather than having things lying unused, they can be sold or donated to people who would find them useful. Go through everything that you own and sort out all the things that you don’t need or don’t use anymore. You can choose to sell or donate them later.

Decluttering your home can relieve stress and you will end up having a clutter-free, tidy home!

5. Care for the animals:

Image by Isa KARAKUS from Pixabay

Due to the lockdown, stray animals are going hungry. You can help them in a small way by leaving leftover food outside your home and placing a pail of water for the animals and birds.

In this time of difficulty, let’s not forget to care for the earth. We can still do our bit for our environment from within our homes.

Stay at home, wash your hands often and take care of yourself and those around you. Let’s get through this tough time with compassion!

Let us know in the comments if you have any other ideas of eco-friendly things that can be done at home. Stay safe!

Composting – Aerobic or Anaerobic?

Image by Goumbik from Pixabay

There are basically two ways in which organic matter can decompose – Aerobic and anaerobic. Both methods will result in the creation of rich manure from waste materials. However, the processes are slightly different. Let us have a look at how they are different from each other.

  1. Aerobic composting:

Aerobic composting is the decomposition of organic matter in the presence of oxygen. The microorganisms that break down the waste in this method require oxygen to survive.

If you want to compost aerobically at home, you must ensure that your compost has ample access to oxygen. To ensure this, make sure your compost bin has air holes in it and turn your compost regularly.

A mixture of carbon-rich material (browns) and nitrogen-rich material (greens) can be added to the bin on a regular basis. Make sure your compost has the right balance of both the materials to make sure it isn’t too dry or too wet. When the waste begins to compost, a brown liquid called compost tea will be released which should be removed from the bin every 2 days. This can be diluted with water in the ratio of 1:20 and can be used as a bio booster for plants. Adding the aerobic compost maker can help steer clear of any problems with foul smell or pests. After a period of about one month, the contents of the bin will completely turn into rich manure. This can be used as a natural fertiliser for plants.

  • Anaerobic composting:

Anaerobic composting is the decomposition of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. This does not require any aeration and the organisms that break down the waste in this process can survive without any oxygen.

This can be implemented under controlled conditions at home without the release of any harmful gases.

This method is simple and does not require a lot of maintenance. You can just add all of your waste into an air-tight compost bin along with an anaerobic compost maker in alternate layers and set it aside once it is full. The anaerobic bacteria will start fermenting the compost. This process too will release compost tea, that can be collected on alternate days. The fermentation process will take about 21 days to complete. Once it is complete, the contents of the bin should be transferred to another airtight container. Here, it will slowly turn into rich compost.

You can choose to implement either of these methods to compost at home. Composting is a wonderful way to use your kitchen and garden waste at home. You can also implement it in your community or workplace to reduce the amount of waste thrown away. If you are still contemplating if you should start composting, read this blog on why you should! Reach out to us in the comments section if you have any questions. We’d be delighted to help you out!

Waste segregation at home – Beginner’s guide:

Landfills are turning into ever-growing mountains of trash that cause a lot of environmental damage. Waste segregation can be an aid to solve this problem, by ensuring proper disposal of different materials.

The waste created in a typical household can broadly be divided into three categories:

Biodegradable – Items that break down into organic materials naturally

Non biodegradable – Items that do not break down into organic materials naturally

Hazardous – Toxic wastes

A lot of biodegradable waste is created at home, especially in the kitchen and garden. A simple way to deal with them, is to turn them into manure through composting. You will just need a compost bin and compost maker that you can get here. The finished compost will be a nutrient-rich material that can be added to the soil for improved plant growth. If you do not have a garden or if you have excessive compost, consider sharing it with others who may need it.

Non-biodegradable material is a little trickier as it includes a wide variety of materials.

Observe the trash you create for a few days and note what materials you generally throw away.

You can then set up separate bins according to your need. You should definitely separate the recyclable from the non-recyclable materials. You can also have separate bins for glass, metals, plastic, paper/cardboard and electronics.

Check your local recycling rules to find out what items will and will not be accepted by them. Most recyclers would not accept unclean items like containers with food residue, etc. so be sure to clean them before you drop them off.

This will leave you with non-recyclable waste and hazardous waste.

Hazardous and toxic wastes include medical waste, soiled tissues, sanitary napkins, batteries, radioactive waste, etc. They must be disposed off with utmost care.

The other non-recyclable wastes that may not be accepted by your recycler like polythene bags, metallised plastic wrappers and straws can be thrown away, but if you do not want to waste them, you can take up a fun project of making ecobricks! Check out this blog on Tammi Says to know more about eco bricks.

And you’re done! If you haven’t already started, try segregating your waste for a month. You will realise the amount of garbage you can stop from sending to the landfills, simply by throwing them in different bins! Following this simple process at home can save the state of our environment!

Feel free to reach out to us in the comments sections!

7 Easy Plants To Grow At Home – Start Your Own Kitchen Garden!

Gardening can be intimidating for a beginner. It takes time and effort and a lot of patience! But, there are some plants that are really easy to grow with minimum effort. These plants can be a great choice when starting your own garden.

  1. Green chilli
Image by dk_golf_101 from Pixabay

Green chillies are one of the easiest plants to grow. Grab a few ripe chillies that have turned red and slice them in half vertically. You will find many seeds inside. Sprinkle these seeds in a pot filled with soil and add a thin layer of soil on top of it. Water the pot regularly. The chilli plants will begin to germinate in one week. When they grow bigger to a height of about 5 inches, you can transplant them into individual pots.

2. Tomato

Image by kie-ker from Pixabay

Tomato seeds are easily available in nurseries. The seeds can also be taken from the tomato fruit itself. The seeds can be sprinkled in soil and covered with another layer of soil on top. Water the plant twice everyday. The plant needs to grow to a height of about 7 to 10 inches before you can transplant them into individual pots. This plant is a climber, so you will have to provide it with support by placing a stick. The tomato plant requires regular supply of rich nutrients, so it is good to add compost to it once a week. You can buy compost here.

3. Holy Basil (Tulasi)

Image by Jay Ns from Pixabay

You can sow tulasi seeds in a pot of soil; or you can grow a new tulasi plant with the help of a stem from an existing one. Pick a stem that preferably has not flowered yet. Pluck out any leaves from the bottom 2 inches of the plant. Immerse this branch in a glass container and leave it near a window where it can get ample sunlight. Change the water everyday. Roots will begin to grow in about 8-10 days. Once the roots are atleast half an inch long, you can transfer the plant to a pot with soil. You can add rich compost to the plant once a month for healthy growth.

4. Indian Borage (Karpooravalli)

Image by Rohit Bhusan from Pixabay

This plant is very low-maintenance and it has a lot of health benefits. The best way to grow this plant is from a cutting. You have to pluck a well-grown branch from an existing karpooravalli plant and take out any leaves from the bottom 2 inches. Then, insert it vertically into a flower pot filled with soil and water it. The plant will start to grow roots in one week.

5. Betel leaf (Vethalai):

The betel leaf plant can be grown by planting a sapling, or it can be propagated through stem cuttings as well. You can place the stem cutting in water until the roots appear, after which it can be transferred to the soil. The betel leaf plant grows as a ground cover or it can be grown as a climber by providing support. If you are growing it in a pot, choose a deep one, because it requires ample space for root growth.

This plant does not require a lot of direct sunlight. It can even be placed indoors with access to partial sunlight.

6. Mint (Pudhina):

Image by photosforyou from Pixabay

This plant grows very fast, therefore very suitable for a beginner. It is best to grow it in a pot because otherwise it may takeover a lot of space in the garden due to its fast growth. This plant, like many others on this list, can be grown easily with the help of stem cuttings. Just cut a stem right below a node (the point where leaves emerge). Make sure the cutting is atleast 4-5 inches long. Remove the leaves from the bottom two inches and insert it into the soil. Don’t keep it in direct sunlight for the first week. Water it regularly to keep the soil moist.

7. Aloe vera:

Image by Spencer Wing from Pixabay

Aloe vera has multiple benefits. It is good when applied to the skin and hair and it can even be consumed as juice. It is best to grow aloe vera from the offshoots of an existing plant. The offshoots should be carefully removed from the main plant with the roots intact. You can then plant it in your own pot and water it. After that, you will only need to water the plant when the soil is completely dry. It requires less water and a lot of sunlight. Be careful because if you overwater it, it may rot quickly.

It is a wonderful feeling to see your saplings grow into beautiful plants that give you fruits, flowers and leaves for your needs. Start your gardening journey by planting atleast two plants from the above list. We promise you won’t regret it!

How to set up anaerobic composting at home

Composting is a process by which biodegradable waste can be turned into manure with the help of decomposition by microorganisms. When this process is done in the absence of oxygen, it is called anaerobic composting. The microorganisms in this method require little or no oxygen to survive.

How to compost anaerobically?

Step 1: Choose the right container.

You can use any container with a tight lid for this process. Prapt’s 15 L Home Composter is designed specifically for anaerobic composting. It comes with a tap at the bottom that makes it very easy to collect the compost tea that will be released.

Step 2: Adding the waste to your container.

Once your container is ready, start by adding a layer of organic microbes to the bottom of the bin. You can buy them here. You can add about 3 inches of biodegradable waste on top of this before adding another layer of microbes. Repeat this process till the bin is full and seal it with a final layer of microbes on top. Always keep the bin closed except while adding waste to it. Once it is filled, put on the lid and keep it aside for a period of 21 days.

Over this period of composting, a brown liquid will be released to the bottom of the compost bin. This is called compost tea. This should be released every 2-3 days. It can easily be collected from the tap provided in Prapt’s Home Compost Bin. The compost tea can be mixed with water in the ratio of 1:20 and used as a bio-booster for plants.

Once your compost bin is full, you can start adding your waste to a second compost bin while the microbes in the first bin will start converting the waste into manure.

We have specific microbes for kitchen waste, garden waste and even for slaughterhouse waste. Check them out on our online store here.

You can add fruit and vegetable peels, tea leaves, coffee grounds, plant clippings, flowers, dried leaves, and anything else that is naturally biodegradable.

You can also add dairy, egg shells, meat and bones to the compost.

Shred the waste into small pieces before adding them to the bin for better results.

Step 3: Harvesting the compost.

After a period of about 21 days, remove the compost from the compost bin and transfer it to any container or bag. Keep it airtight. The waste will turn into compost over time.

The finished compost will be dark-brown in colour and will smell like earth. The compost can be sieved to take out any materials that haven’t broken down completely and the final product can be added to the garden directly or stored in a container in a cool place until it is used.

Composting is a pretty simple process, once you get the basics right. And if you have a garden, it will be a wonderful natural fertilizer for your plants. Anaerobic composting requires minimal effort, unlike aerobic composting. This will be a perfect fit for you if you want to compost despite your busy schedule. If you have any doubts, do let us know in the comments below.

Happy composting!

Why should you compost? – Benefits of composting

Composting is a way to turn biodegradable waste into organic material. Some cities have large compost facilities that deal with huge amounts of waste. But, it can be implemented even at a smaller scale – in communities or even in individual households. Composting is a simple process and it has a lot of benefits.

  1. Solution for kitchen and garden waste.

Kitchen and garden wastes, that would otherwise just go to the garbage, can be turned into rich manure for plants by composting. Every household creates a lot of kitchen waste, like fruit and vegetable peels every day. Garden waste like fallen and dried leaves are also a common sight in houses that have plants. These biodegradable wastes make up a huge proportion of trash that is thrown away in the garbage. Composting is a great way to recycle this.

You can even compost eggs, meat and bones easily by using our compost maker.

  • Enriches soil.

The finished compost adds key nutrients to enrich the quality of the soil and makes it more fertile. It helps in maintaining the natural cycle of the earth’s ecosystem by returning the waste back to the soil from where they initially originated.

  • Provides nutrients to plants.

When compost is added to the garden, it creates a very favourable environment for plants to grow. It provides them with nutrients and moisture and promotes better plant growth naturally.

  • Natural alternative to chemical fertilizers.

Chemical fertilizers have harmful side-effects. Though they provide short-term benefits, they cause more harm than good in the long run. They reduce soil fertility, cause water pollution and lead to health risks in people/animals that consume food grown with fertilizers. Compost can prove to be a natural and healthier alternative to fertilizers and it does not have any side-effects.

  • Reduces landfill waste – Low carbon footprint.

Composting is a natural way to recycle the huge amount of biodegradable waste that is thrown away every day. Landfills are getting full quickly we need to look for alternative solutions before we run out of landfill space. Besides, when biodegradable waste goes to the landfill, they don’t biodegrade, because they are mixed with a lot of non-biodegradable waste and do not have access to ample oxygen. They instead release methane which is a harmful greenhouse gas that causes climate change. Composting is a simple process that can avoid these problems and reduce your carbon footprint.

Composting can be easily implemented at home. Check out our composters here that will help you kickstart your composting journey today!

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