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Monday, September 12, 2011

Going Green!!

In years past, all the hoop-la about Green Activism has not always inspired me to go out of my way to join the bandwagon. In fact the holier-than-thou attitude displayed by some used to only put my back up and not feel like making any effort at all! Along the way, we tried to do our little bit by installing solar heaters when we built our house, setting up an elaborate rain water harvesting mechanism, and trying to maintain a small garden and potted plants wherever possible(for which the rainwater helps nearly 7-8 months of the year!). We have also always tried to get our children to follow the rules of saving electricity and water (which of course usually consists of -"Oh why have you left that light on again?" and going and switching it off ourselves :)!). But most of this stuff was not "going green" for the sake of it, it just seemed appropriate and fit into the scheme of things at that point of time!

Switch to the Present: It was World Kitchen Garden Day on Aug 28th(Sunday) and our local enthusiasts had organized an event aptly called "Oota from your Thota" (Food from your garden) at BTM Layout. The venue was very close to where I stay and I thought this was definitely a time to get past the excuses and sow the seeds for my kitchen garden! I managed to get my hands on a few saplings, and also picked up some packets of seeds to get into full steam once I have my terrace in shape. I am starting with Tomato, Brinjal and a wonderful Beans plant which already has some flowers/beans sprouting from it!

The tomato and brinjal have now been transplanted to bigger pots and are doing pretty well (read: I haven't managed to kill them yet!).
The other life-changer at this event was the presence of Daily Dump which is an organization I've been following for a very long time on Facebook and on their site. It was a bit daunting to get into the big bad world of composting, but when I actually connected with them, and heard about the process more in detail, my enthusiasm kicked in completely. I gave them my details as they didn't have any more of their Khambhas(pic below) left over.
Kudos to them for promptly following up the next day and delivering the apparatus by Monday evening itself - so I'm now 2 weeks into home composting and completely loving how empowered I feel about lessening my home waste going to the landfills and clogging our environment. I would love to contribute more to this cause and thought I should start right here on my blog :). I'm definitely no big expert on this process so no point in posting any big dos/donts - you can find most information on their site in detail, but I felt that I  should try to dispel some of the big fears most people (including me) have about composting which daunts us from starting out on it.
  1. Composting is a smelly affair: No, not at all! This was definitely a big question for me as I'm paranoid about stuff like tying up wet waste before disposal so it doesn't smell the next day. It depends on the composition of your waste to an extent, but you can initially keep out cooked or non-vegetarian food and start with vegetable waste to see how it goes before starting to add all your wet waste to your compost. My experience has been that if you stir it often enough so it has adequate air, the smell is not very annoying at all. You can also spray organic lemon sprays or homemade concoctions if you feel the smell is too strong for you, but I have not got to this stage yet and I have started putting cooked waste in my composter already. Moreover the Khambhas as provided by Daily Dump are closed units so not like an open Compost pile which may be more difficult to maintain.
  2. Composting takes up a lot of your time: Again, you would be surprized at how little time it takes. It is adequate to stir the pile once in 3 days, so on other days you would hardly take a minute to dump in your waste and close the lid. Even on days when you stir the pile it would only take about 5 minutes. On some days you can expect some maintenance activities like moving half-done compost to a separate pot which would take a bit more time - but these are once in a month activities. Of course to get to the stage where the waste turns into compost takes 2-3 months, but daily maintenance is more to do with intent than making time!
  3. Composting needs a lot of tools/apparatus: Jump across to the Daily Dump website - the main thing is the Khambha that is the set of 3 pots, which you would just place somewhere and not be handling all that much afterwards. Other than that you just need something to stir the pile, you can even use gloves and stir with your hands if not too queasy - I enjoy doing that as it's the best way to really stir it well :). A couple of additives like an accelerator to help the composting process, neem powder to contain insects and maggots - these are once in a week items and not necessary for daily use. And that's all - you're set!
It's a great way to add your small contribution, and if you have plants or a garden at home you get wonderful compost that you can use instead of looking around for organic/non-chemical stuff. So yes, I'm apparently turning into one of "those" Green holier-than-thou-ers now, and weirdly enough - it feels GREAT !!! :) Watch out - I might be telling you next about how to recycle/reuse your kitchen vessel washing water ;).


  1. oh this is a very nice post Aparna! I do not have a garden yet and I feel maybe I won't do justice to the plants if I have them..:-) but I really liked the info on composting. You have addressed all the issues I would have had, had I thought of doing it at home. Will bookmark this for future use..:-)

  2. Ooh...that's quite something...I feel like Uma too, don't have a garden or a green thumb..and also feel quite overwhelmed abt having to do all this stuff. Its great that you have managed to get yourself going ...and its sort of an inspiration that maybe, some day I will get around to it as well. Seriously, great going! All the best! I'm bookmarking the post too :)

  3. Very inspiring Aparna!! Great going! :)

  4. @Uma, Aparna, Poornima - Thank you so much :).

    Uma, Aparna - I definitely don't have a green thumb to speak of :). Just keep trying even if I manage to kill plants off from time to time!

    Uma, if you would at any time like to get some green to your house, do have a look at My Sunny Balcony - they are on FB too - they specialize in balcony makeovers :).

  5. Aparna, I donno how I have arrived here at your page, nevertheless loved reading... Your thots resonates mine. Kudos!


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  7. Happy Birthday Aparna! Have a gr8 day and a wonderful year ahead!
    So, what celebrations today?

  8. @Nisha - thank you for dropping in. I think I saw 2 comments from you, must be some blogger mixup - since they were the same I am publishing the first one!

  9. @Uma - Thanks so much for the wishes :).

    The day goes on much like any other.. everyone busy with their schedules as usual.

  10. Great blog and keep going. very impressive for a beginner

  11. Thanks for dropping in ecoananda!

  12. Malar7:22 AM

    Hey Aparna, that was a real inspiring post. Very informative. I have a nice gaqrden and we have been long contemplating on having a composte pit in one corner but have been bogged down by the very concerns you have addressed in your post.Am right away getting in touch with Daily Dump... Thanks for posting it on FB.... cheers, Malar

  13. Hello Aparna,

    LOved your blog, will be coming by regularly, have joined your other blog, couldn't see a followers option here, else woul've joined this blog write very well, and thankyou for such informative information on becoming more environmentally conscious...

  14. correction, found the followers option and am now following you...or rather stalking you...I'm a mommy too and love interacting with other mommies of blogosphere...

  15. @Malar - Thanks so much for dropping in, All the best for your composting, and definitely do send me a msg if you have any questions. Though the Daily Dump guys are also so easily accessible you hardly need any more info :).

    @AAD - Thank you for your kind words :) One unexpected side-effect of blogging has been meeting so many like-minded mommy bloggers, in fact I would call many of them my friends now :). The usual subject of my blog is very limited to the antics of my children - this one was a bit different as I started feeling strongly about it and wanted to share my experiences! Have just hopped over to your blog - you seem to write on so many diverse topics - more at your blog !

  16. Darrrrrrlllinggg
    Happy Birthday, firstly.
    Secondly, congrats!!! You've done what most of us only aspire to/dream of, and then sit on our asses doing nothing in that drection of achieving that goal.
    There are three pots, some mud, neem fertilizer sitting in my balcony waiting for me to just start that coriandermint patch I've been planning, and putting off. I've collected seeds from farmer's markets in villages...I hope they haven't gotten "spoilt".
    Inspired like hell by this post of yours. Hoep I get into action mode too
    Lots of green thumb love
    Forever Mother

  17. Dear Forever mother - Thank you for the birthday wishes as well as all the kind words :) !!

    Considering i'm a SAHM it took me forever to start, so with any kind of work schedule involved I don't know how anyone manages - I know some people do, but I definitely couldn't have mustered up enthusiasm if I was a working mom! I'm sure that now you have all the starting material with you, it's definitely going to happen soon :) All the best!!!

  18. This was a very reassuring post to read Aparna. I started composting the basic way and dug a large pit in the ground, and covered my vegetable waste with hay and leaves. The rains put an end to my composting and I was horrified to see a smelly maggot filled mess floating in the rain. I have been mulling over DD's Kambhas, and am now inspired to try this one out after your experience. Btw, your plants look really nice too!

  19. we have been composting for the past 2 years and it is going well. The only issues we have had was flooded khambas and red ants in the compost pile. So if you can keep your bins away from the rains and keep it stirred well(to keep the ants away), it should be a smooth ride!

  20. @Preethy - thank you :) and All the best for kicking off on composting - it's definitely much simpler than I thought!
    @Jayadeep - thank you and great to hear from an experienced composter! I had kept the khambhas exposed to rain at first, also tried out the recycled raincoat from DD, but was not comfortable with that arrangement. Moved it to a sheltered place now, and though I do have some ants and some fruit flies it doesn't seem too bothersome so I'm seeing how it goes for now :). For red ants I tried the tips on the DD site such as vinegar around the khambha, and sprinkling baby powder (!) and surprizingly it works!!

  21. wow...look whom I found here...lovely post...have more reasons to visit your veggie garden.:)

    1. Small world :).. you'd better hop over soon!