Composting is nature’s way of returning life to earth.
At Gili Lankanfushi, where the well-being of the planet is always at the heart of how the resort is run, Executive Chef Harinath Govindaraj has embarked on a natural composting mission to turn food wastes into organic fertiliser. The compost is then used to nourish and rejuvenate the earth from which fresh, organic vegetables are grown for the resort’s restaurants, completing the farm-to-table-to-soil process.
As it turns out, making your very own natural compost can be quick, easy, and smell-free too. Hpaper gets some tips from Chef Hari.
Composting isn’t rocket science. It is what happens in nature when leaves fall onto the ground, plants wither away, and organisms start to do their work to return the nutrients to their source. In making your own compost, you simply need to know how to create the right environment for these organisms to thrive.
First of all, you need two kinds of materials —“green” and “brown”. “Green” materials are ingredients such as food wastes, green leaves, and prunings from your garden. “Brown” materials, on the other hand, are dry leaves, dry grass, twigs, wood shavings, and even shredded paper. Once you have assembled the materials, the first step is to dig a bed of about one foot deep.
When the garden bed is ready, spread a blanket of fresh leaves over the soil. This forms the first layer. This green layer, and subsequent ones, provide protein and moisture for the organisms to work their magic.
Next, layer a blanket of dry leaves over the fresh ones. “Brown” materials such as dry leaves allow air to flow between the pile and provide energy for the organisms.
For the next layer, add food wastes gathered from the kitchen. This could be fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea leaves, pulp from juices, and even crushed eggshells.
For this step, Chef Hari adds a layer of organic processed manure. You could easily replace this with other “brown” material such as shredded paper or wood shavings. The general idea is to alternate “green” with “brown” layers. You would want the same amount of each, so that enough oxygen flows through the pile, allowing the organisms to survive and keeping the compost odour-free.
Now, introduce some moisture to the pile. Chef Hari’s tip is to mix sugar, sand and water. Moisture is important because it allows the organisms to move around and start digesting the material.
Repeat steps 2 to 6 and let the pile rest for about two months. From time to time, give the pile a good stir to keep the oxygen flowing.
As an optional step, Chef Hari tops the pile with a layer of watermelon skins. This attracts and nourishes worms, which in turn help to hasten the composting process.
In a few short months, the compost is ready for you to use. 100% natural, organic, sustainable, and made by you. You can use it directly, or turn it into a compost tea by mixing it with water. The liquid compost can then be sprayed onto the leaves, or at the base of your plants as a natural fertiliser. Remember, even if you do not have a garden, you can still enjoy the process and benefits of natural composting by either getting or making your own compost bin.
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