Tray composting with cocopeat

Laburnum Block in Brigade Millennium is a relatively small apartment complex housing some 50-odd families. For many years, the households have been doing segregation of waste at source, with the wet waste being collected separately by the housekeeping staff.

About 5 years ago, during one of my visits to the block, the then President, Prof. Bhat, showed me the pits located at the periphery of the site, where composting was being done. This is the way many of us, with ground space around our homes, grew up. The wet waste would daily be put into a small pit and covered with a bit of soil. After the pit was filled we would grow plants over it. A new pit would be dug next to the old one to continue.

As the occupancy of the block increased, so did the waste generated, and the association started looking for an alternative method of composting. Mr Virendra Kumar, a resident of Laburnum Block, has shared the composting method that they are now following.

The kitchen waste from the households is collected and kept in bins. Stray plastic and other non-organic waste is removed.

Kitchen waste
Kitchen waste

This kitchen waste, along with the garden waste is put through an organic shredder. You can see a demo of the shredder here. The volume of waste gets dramatically reduced after shredding, and this also accelerates the composting process.

Kitchen and garden waste are put through the shredder
Kitchen and garden waste are put through the shredder

The shredded waste is then put into a plastic tray in layers, alternating with 1-inch layers of cocopeat. One day’s waste is accommodated in one tray. Cocopeat is coir, made from coconut husk. It is a good absorbent and deodoriser, and helps in controlling the moisture in the compost. It is also said to contain the fungus Trichoderma that produces enzymes beneficial for composting.

Shredded waste put into a tray with cocopeat
Shredded waste put into a tray with cocopeat

There are thirty trays, numbered from 1 to 30, and each day the waste goes into the tray that matches its date. This also enables proper tracking of the compost. Just by the tray number, one can tell how long it has been since the waste was put into the tray.

The trays are stored in a well ventilated area, sheltered from rain and direct sunlight. On average, it takes about four weeks for a composting cycle. After about a month, the first tray is checked to see if the compost is ready to use. Depending on the weather conditions, it may need to be kept fo a few more days, or it may need to be laid out to dry for a couple of days before it can be used. Once a tray is emptied, it is reused for the next cycle, and the process continues.

Thirty trays are used

The composting team consisting of residents and staff work together to ensure that the harvested compost keeps the plants at Laburnum well nourished and vibrant, always!

nourished plants
Well nourised plants at Laburnum
The Laburnum team
The Laburnum team

This is a simple low-tech efficient method of composting that can easily be adopted by not only small, but also large apartments. Investment in the infrastructure includes the shredder and the trays. Cocopeat is the one recurring expense. It can even be used at the household level.

Coming to think of it, the method is quite like what I’ve been doing on my balcony, in pots, over the last 7-8 years. Curd remnants would be acting as an accelerator so I haven’t found the need to use cocopeat or any other additives/ enzymes. Read about my pot composting here.

Thanks to Mr Virendra Kumar for the information and pictures.


3 thoughts on “Tray composting with cocopeat

  1. vasanti51 October 25, 2015 / 8:13 am

    Fantastic!! Thank you for sharing!!
    Vasanti magnolia block brigade Millenium


  2. Deepti Mittal October 1, 2017 / 10:58 am

    It is very good. Do you have a project report details so that we can follow those instructions and we can estimate the cost, helpers required area required etc.


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