The Three S’s of Composting

I am often asked what is the secret behind my clean and perfect home composting.  I have tried to collect every trick and innovations I did and put it in 3 simple points. I may not have scientific explanation for all of them or there may be counter explanations but this worked for me and hope it works for you too.

My three S’s are

1)  Sahaj ( Simple)-  “Keep it simple”. As simple as possible with nothing more than uncovered  old bucket, barrel or flower pot with a plate underneath.  No expensive specialised equipment is needed. Nature decomposes on its own.

2) Sukha (Dry)- “Keep it completely dry”.  You may get detailed analysis on how much moisture should be there for nice compost and how much water or curd you  should  put. My observation is all the moisture needed is already there. Putting more water will increase leachate and nourishment will be lost. More water will decrease oxygen in soil and  Methane ,a worse GHG, will start generating. To keep it dry compost should be loosely packed with some twigs or leaves or coconut shell pieces.  This is the problem of landfills which generate lots of methane due to dense packing.  Always have two composting pots and put waste alternatively.

3) Surya (Sun)- “keep it sunny”. Indians worship Sun and for good  reasons too. Sun dries up the waste quickly. Keep the pot open in the sunniest part of your home. It should get at least 6-8 hours of sun.  Sun kills all the harmful germs and fruit flies in the composting bin.

Some additional tricks –

Store lemon rinds and orange peels. Blend in blender and add to compost to avoid many insects which can harm plants later.

Use coconut flakes after taking out the milk as a protein supplement in a compost.

Used tea leaves are the best compost.  Used spices like cardamom peel, cinnamon stick added can ward of insects. Used Marigold flowers is a must for every compost if you don’t want mosquitoes.

Spray some citronella oil on the rim of pot. Have a potted spider plant/ marigold/aloevera near the compost pot.

Here is my open compost and vegetables grown in them. Organic produce need not look limply, discoloured, crooked with insect holes. Done properly composting gives all that is needed for plant to give beautiful produce.

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Nature Lover, Bangalore

12 thoughts on “The Three S’s of Composting

  • 16 December, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    This is priceless
    Let everyone get inspired
    If you can make at least one person start composting, then this is a huge success

  • 16 December, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time… thank you for sharing this write-up… it’s inspiring me to stop procrastinating 🙂

    • 16 December, 2015 at 7:14 pm

      Thanks Archana. Do start. Its very therapeutic activity for stress.

  • 16 December, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    I didn’t know about the negative effects of excess water. This is enlightening.
    Thank you!

    • 17 December, 2015 at 8:38 am

      Thanks Alok. Its Aerobic versus Anaerobic Composting. Aerobic composting is faster without gas and all pathogens are also digested
      where as anaerobic composting need no oxygen gives, methane and cant destroy pathogens. But sometimes like after huge food waste generation
      in food canning work or after social event with huge amount of waste, it becomes necessary to put all the waste in a hole and cover it with soil. Thats the only time anaerobic composting finds some advantage.

  • 17 December, 2015 at 12:14 am

    this is so useful thank you for the tips, they are surely worth following.

  • 13 July, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    Hi, the above method worked out perfectly for me during summer (using the 4 S principles), but now during the monsoons, I had a nasty shock when I emptied my oldest compost bucket and found it dripping wet and totally stinking! I keep the composting buckets on my balcony which is only partially covered and does get a soaking during heavy rains. Any solution for this? Not sure how I’m going to manage till the monsoon ends ( 2 months more at least)!

    • 14 July, 2016 at 7:37 am

      Dear Nalini, Great to hear from you. It feels good to see more and more people interested in composting.
      I too have faced this situation many times as my balcony is also exposed to rains. There are two steps you can do now.
      First an emergency measure- get some dry soil and mix with your wet compost so that it takes up as much nutrients as possible.
      Then fill in empty pots with that soil and plant anything you have . Plants like Aloevera, Jade plant, Snake plant and spider plant take up acidic soil well. Even weeds and grass will do. They will metabolise soil for later use.
      Second step will be preventive measure- I have couple of old plastic bucket lids which I cover on my buckets when ever there is a chance of rain or I am going out for several hours. I do this for the rainy season. There are several seeds like pumpkin or gourd which when thrown in with other waste start growing in the compost itself and control the moisture very well . Infact last week I got all my compost soaked in rain water but several pumpkin plants growing in used it all up soon. Hope this will help. You can write to me at will be happy to share pictures and other details. Let me know when you get to see this reply.


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