The pioneer in home composting, terrace gardening and bio-cleansers says garbage is green gold
A pioneer in home composting, terrace gardening and bio-cleansers, Vani Murthy has been promoting the idea of a Swacha Graha — a home that generates minimum garbage, for more than a decade now. Her YouTube videos on home-composting have lakhs of views. The lockdown sees the Compost Queen busier than ever with people asking for live demonstrations on social media.
After a course on Education for Life, Vani started working on a community project on making sense out of garbage. Vani delved into waste collection, composting and urban waste. She became associated with Solid Waste Management groups in Bengaluru.
“People ask me many questions regarding waste and composting,” Vani says. “They need to understand the process. Organic composting, terrace gardening and bio-cleansers are inter-connected and help reduce garbage from each home.”
Vani is flooded with requests from colleges, apartment associations, corporates and IT firms. “A group from Goa recently told me that their target was to get 10,000 people to compost. They wanted me to guide them online.”
Vani wants people to feel positive about their food. In one of her workshops, a tour of Vani’s sustainable kitchen, she said, “Learning to compost as you simultaneously understand the basics of the circle of life and start growing your food is exciting. Dr Vishwanath is a pioneer in terrace gardening in Bengaluru. When he noticed the city was getting hotter, the green cover gradually disappearing and terraces empty and white, he encouraged people to grow plants on their terraces.”
Vishwanath often invites Vani to talk about composting at large gardening expos where gardeners meet to exchange experiences and seeds. “I used to take seeds and give earthworms in exchange,” Vani says with a laugh adding that composting is her first love.
Way to compost and grow
“Home composting is simple, one needs to make a commitment,” says Vani as she gets ready for a live demonstration at home. During lockdown, when one cannot buy drums for composting, Vani suggests using two 10-litre buckets or even paint buckets. Collect dry leaves and kitchen peels in buckets. In the absence of accelarators or microbes from the market, one can use sour curd or buttermilk to mix with the leaves and peels.
Earthworms will start to appear. “They are part of the eco-system and break down organic matter quickly. Turn the mixture over for aeration every five days, otherwise the lower parts starts to get suffocated. The organic matter will breakdown into compost in 45 days that can be added to soil.”
How to make organic home cleaners
Take 300 grams of citrus peels (mosambi, pineapple or orange), add 100 grams of jaggery and one litre of water and mix them in a two-litre bottle with a few granules of yeast. Keep it in a dark place for fermentation. In a month one can strain the citrus enzyme. Mix one large teaspoon of this enzyme with water for an organic floor cleaner. One can mix soapnut solution or powder (soapkaai) to this and use it to clean sinks, windows and the stove.
To clean vessels, one can use ash-shikakaai powder and soapnut powder in equal proportion and use to scrub vessels.
One can boil soapnut and squeeze it dry to clean crockery. “People ask me how one can source ash. One can get it from anyone who uses firewood or from people who use coal to iron clothes.”
Vani Murthy’s next online workshop, Closing the loop with Ananas – on home composting is on April 25 at 11.30 am. https://us04web.zoom.us/j/77699253369?pwd=MFg0Kzg0WVlSdUF1aGJTdjNrQzFJdz09
Meeting ID: 776 9925 3369; password: 9q6Y3C