About Me

Someone who fell in love with the natural world early on and has been smitten ever since. A blade of grass, a mighty mountain, a tiny raindrop, a roaring waterfall, all fill me with awe and wonder. Nature feels home, filled with warmth and love. It pains my heart to see this home being ravaged. This blog is an effort to find tweaks in modern living to preserve the sanctity of this home. I sincerely hope that you join me in this green karmic journey.

Wednesday, 22 March 2023

No-brainer Tips for Saving Water at Home

Water - 

Enjoy while it lasts.

Because it won't last long!*

Tips to save water at home:

1. Bottoms up - Finish that glass of water. Take what you want. Then finish it. Practice it at restaurants, at a party, anywhere, everywhere.  Tip - Fill a reusable bottle for the day and you can sip as much or as little as you want without bothering about leftover. 

Finish all you take!

2. Leftover water - If you or the guests haven't read the first tip, take a rap on the knuckles. Say ouch and move on to the saving grace. Pour water from disowned bottles and glasses in potted plants, lawns, trees etc. If you're not in the mood to make a trip to your garden, collect it in an assigned bucket and make the trip later. If you don't have a garden or pots, use it for cleaning.

3. Collect after-rinse water - When washing fruits, veggies, pulses, rice, etc. place a container below the colander. Collect this water to:

  • water plants
  • rinse dishes before loading the dishwasher or piling them for household help
  • clean sinks, shower areas...you get the drift

5. Use a bucket - When having a shower, cleaning the car, doing laundry by hand try to limit the use of water by filling a bucket and managing the task with that. Running water gets very wasteful, very fast.

4. Optimise usage - Run washing machine and dishwasher only when full. Choose the shortest cycle. 

6. TURN. THE. TAP. OFF - When brushing, shaving, taking shower - when you really don't need water in those in-between times, turn it off!

Thank you for turning it off!

Little things add up. Multiplier effect, you know. 

Plus you never know who all you end up inspiring:) Your gestures send out a message.....so keep at it, Earthlings....or Waterlings! We all know that 70 percent of Earth is water. I read somewhere that going by this fact, the Earth should have been called Water! Interesting thought, isn't it!

*Until we mend our ways!

Picture credits: Pixabay

Monday, 15 August 2022

Teri Mitti Me Mil Jawa...Three Promises To Make To Our Mitti

Har Din Tiranga!
Pic Credit: Pixabay

15th August, 2022 - 75 years of Independence! 

Tiranga is fluttering everywhere with 'Har Ghar Tiranga' campaign. Every Indian heart is filled with pride and joy. The song that's playing in my heart is -"Teri mitti me mil jawa...." which then set me thinking...

Our freedom fighters sacrificed their lives to get freedom for our mitti.

Our soldiers do the same to uphold that freedom. 

What do we civilians do for our mitti

To die in our desh ki mitti is a romantic dream that many of us cherish, but what do we do for the mitti while we are still alive?

I thought of these three promises that we can make to honor the mitti we so love:

1. Compost

Our soil is dying. The least we can do to nourish it is to compost at home or support composting at community level. Composting helps in building organic matter in soil and makes it healthier. 

2. Stop Food Waste

Wasting food is nothing less than a crime. When we waste food, we not only dishonor our mitti which has gone through a lot to grow all that food, but also our farmers. (Remember Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan?)

3. Reduce Landfill Waste

Where does all our rubbish go? In the heart of our mitti! We raise mountains of waste on the sacred soil or bury it in its folds. So wherever we can, let's reduce and recycle.

If har ghar makes these three promises, our contribution to our mitti would be much more meaningful. Don't you agree?

Happy 15th of August!

Sunday, 5 June 2022

Won't Waste Watermelon Whites Again!

Summers are here and so are watermelons. While we all (or so I believe!) love the juicy, cool, refreshing goodness of a watermelon, we don't really like the waste left after a juicy melon. 

While I haven't ventured to experiment with the outer rind yet, the whites below the rind have been looking at me with imploring eyes. I don't have the heart to toss them in the bin - even if it is a compost bin! 

My Mom makes a curry with diced white parts but I'm not a big fan of this curry and the whites are just too much to be consumed in a curry. So I was on a lookout for other uses. 

The red part goes in the tummy
The green part goes into the compost bin

Pic Courtesy: Pixabay

And whites go in an.... adai batter (lentil pancakes)
Pic Courtesy: Greenkarma360

Here's the recipe for adai. I've made this adai using a single lentil. You can add other lentils like toor, urad, masoor and chana in equal quantities. 

Ingredients : 
Moong daal - 1/2 cup
Toor daal - 1/2 cup
Urad daal - 1/2 cup
Masoor daal - 1/2 cup
Chana daal - 1/2 cup
Watermelon whites - 2-3 cups
Tomato - 1 medium
Onion - 1/2 
Coriander - A fistful along with stalks
Ginger - 1 inch
Garlic (optional) - 3-4 cloves
Green chillies (optional) - 1-2
Curry -leaves -10
Lemon juice - Half a lemon
Spices: Red chilly powder, cumin seeds and salt.

The whites impart volume to the batter without altering its taste
Pic Courtesy: Greenkarma360

Way to Go:
  • Wash and soak all the lentils for 4-5 hours.
  • Blend all the ingredients together. You can skip onions and tomatoes while grinding. These can be skipped or chopped and added to the batter later.
  • You can add more watermelon whites or water to get the consistency right. The mix should not be too watery or too tight. 
  • Season the griddle with some oil. 
  • Scoop the batter and spread in a circular fashion on a hot griddle. Don'r spread it too thin.
  • Add oil around the adai.
  • Keep the flame medium. 
  • Flip the adai when well done. 
  • Sauté lightly on the other side. 
When done, enjoy it with a dip of your choice. Here's a lovely ridge-gourd peels chutney to savor it with.

The watermelon whites made the batter very light and fluffy. I loved the fact that the whites gave body to the batter without altering its taste.

I brainstormed on different ways to use these whites. Here are a few other ideas. Add watermelon whites to a:

1. Smoothie
2. Soup
3. Dip or Chutney
4. Lasagna Sauce
5. Pasta Sauce, Pasta Veggies
6. Daal or Sambar
7. Paav Bhaji
8. Dough
9. Curry

I would advice you to add the whites in moderation, to begin with. Once you get comfortable, you can increase the proportion according to your taste.:) 

If you get inspired by this post and use the whites in some way, please post in the comments below. Happy experimenting!

Saturday, 28 May 2022

Jo Gardening Se Kare Pyaar, Wo Composting Se Kaise Kare Inkaar!

Remember this 80s ad?

It was a regular on our screens and was so interesting to see a husband's love for his wife getting measured by the choice of a pressure cooker!

When I thought of convincing gardeners to start composting, I couldn't help mouthing the words from this ad!

Jo Gardening Se Kare Pyaar, Wo Composting Se Kaise Kare Inkaar? (How can you say no to composting, if you love gardening?)
If you love plants and like pottering around in the garden, sooner or later, you'll consider composting. Composting and gardening are joined at the hip.:)

Here's why you should start home-composting if you're into gardening:

1. Compost makes the soil healthy

Compost makes the soil light and rich 
Pic Credit: Pixabay

Compost adds organic matter to the soil which in turn improves the structure and water-retention ability of the soil. Though compost is not a fertilizer, it has immense nutritional benefits for plants. 

I've heard many gardening tips like burying potato peels near plants or watering them with banana-peels-infused-water. It's about growing healthier plants. 

2. Free compost, yay!

Even if you don't want to invest a dime on composting equipment, you can still compost and reap healthy benefits for your garden. Read my post on how to get started here

You can sure buy compost from stores but if you make it at home, you can not only save some bucks but also control the quality of compost, which brings me to the next point -

3. All those organic peels, organic compost doth make

Turn organic peels into organic compost
Pic Credit- Pixabay

If you're into gardening, chances are that you like to eat organic. What about giving your soil some of that organic love too?

Dumping organic peels into landfills is like making a villain out of a hero. Let me explain. 

Fruit and veggie leftovers, when trashed in a landfill, produce methane, a greenhouse gas that leads to global warming.  
The same leftovers, when composted, add to the nutritional value of soil, which help you grow luscious tomatoes and carrots.  

If the veggie remains are derived from organic produce, your compost will be organic, which in turn will help you grow organic produce. Aha!

4. Surprise, Surprise!!

Love surprises? Compost always has something up its sleeve:)

I added compost to my potted plants and in a few days, I had tomato, papaya, watermelon, pumpkin and even mango saplings peeking out at me:) 

Seeds from fruits and veggies that you eat, generally survive in the compost. They germinate whenever conditions are conducive. Tada -free saplings! I got a lot of tomato, papaya and cantaloupe saplings this way last year. This can be a nuisance for some as they have to weed the saplings out.

You can even sneak a few seeds of your choice in the compost and who knows, you might get the desired saplings without actually sowing the seeds separately. 

5. You're a natural

Love gardening - love tending the soil!
Pic Credit - Pixabay

If you're into gardening, you don't shy away from soil, organic matter and a few bugs:) Neither do you shy away from hard work and patience. 

You're good at soil-speak and plant-speak and are already a natural! Composting will come easily to you. You just need to get started :) 

So what are you waiting for? If it's shubh muhurtham that's holding you back, let me tell you that it's National Learn About Composting Day on May 29th. No better timing than that:)

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Why Compost?

Good question! 

With a fantastic answer:)

Because it's a Win-Win-Win. For you, your plants and your environment. 

Composting is like witnessing the circle of life. It shows you how everything is interconnected and how one system feeds into another. 

You eat veggies and fruits and discard the peels. Those peels get mixed with soil and dried leaves. Microbes feast on this mix and decompose it. The decomposed mix is an elixir for trees and soil and nurtures the food, which you eat. Repeat. 

Those of you who are convinced, stop reading here and start setting up the composting process. Those who need more convincing, read on!

Why compost?

1. To save organic matter from going into landfills: 

Organic matter is what makes the soil rich and healthy. Throwing away organic matter is a double whammy - robbing the soil of nutrients and clogging landfills with stuff that emits a greenhouse gas. Basically, throwing something incredibly useful to make it totally harmful. How smart is that!(And it takes the smartest species on earth to accomplish this!)

Organic matter doesn't biodegrade in a landfill. On the contrary, it emits methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas which is at least 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. 

When you compost, you reduce greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere. Imagine that - you could be a global-warming-fighter operating right from your home. Feel the green cape fluttering around you yet?

2. To improve soil health: 

There are alarming reports about how earth's topsoil is depleting. 
With our current ways, we could run out of topsoil in another 60 years. 

No topsoil = No crops 
No crops = No food

When you compost and return the goodness to earth, you help improve soil quality. Healthy soil also holds much more water and helps reduce erosion and flooding. If you grow vegetables and flowers, this nutritious compost is like manna from heaven. 

3. To conserve fuel:

By reducing the organic and yard waste going out of your household, you're not only easing the burden on overflowing landfills, but you're also helping conserve fuel that is required to ferry this waste till landfills. 

Less weight to be carried around = Less fuel consumed. 

4. To reduce your trash bag content and hence trash bag usage:

Look into your filled trash bag. How much organic waste is in there? 

If you cook most of your meals with fresh produce, the proportion of organic waste in your trash bag would be quite high. You can divert all this organic waste to your compost bin. Less trash means fewer trash bags too. 

In addition, gardening waste bags will also get reduced because you can divert leaves and garden clippings to the compost bin as well. 

More bags saved, yay!! (In fact, this is what motivated me to start composting. I used to recycle stuff wherever I could. It was the kitchen waste that could not be stored for long and needed a plastic bag for disposal. Every time I had to use a plastic bag for kitchen waste, I felt guilty. So one fine day, I thought enough was enough and started composting.)

5. To get rid of stinky kitchen trash bins: 

In single family homes in the US, waste is not collected daily. It's collected weekly at my place. You're supposed to store the kitchen waste, which starts to rot. Soon, the trash bin starts smelling and it takes courage to even open it to toss in the waste.

A much cleaner alternative is to dispose kitchen scraps in a composter. By adding browns and with proper aeration, the waste decomposes without unpleasant smells.

6. To express your love to your houseplants: 

"Jo gardening se kare pyaar, wo composting se kaise kare inkaar!" 
(My non- Hindi speaking readers, please excuse my take on a famous jingle from the 80s:))

If you like plants and gardening, you'll love composting. Remember the joy when you spot a seedling sprout, a flower bloom or a baby tomato peek through leaves? Composting gives you the same woozy feeling of happiness when you see your kitchen scraps convert into life giving black gold!

7. For kids: 

Kids know the pressing issues of climate change. They will take pride in the fact that their family cares enough and is a part of the solution. 

Action speaks more than words. When kids see you act, they'll emulate you. By helping you out, they'll learn the process and when they run their own households, a composter would be a natural part of their homes.  

Don't we all want a good future for our kids? One of the coolest gifts for them would be a cool Earth!

8. To witness a beautiful natural process: 

Nature does not know waste. Every output is an input too. It just converts one useful resource into another. 

Nature also shows an intricate interconnection between everything. Take a piece away, and you jeopardize the whole system. Composting gives you a subtle reminder of this interdependence.

Are you convinced yet?

I can keep adding to the list in different ways. But the gist remains that if you take from the earth with one hand, you should return to it with the other. Composting completes this give and take and completes the circle of life. 

Doubts? Keep them coming. But the best way to slay your doubts is to start the process and learn along the way. For the rest, there's Google,  FB composting groups, anyone who composts in your locality and this blog! :) You can post your questions in the comments section and I'll   try my best to answer them.

Friday, 22 October 2021

How to Cook a Mean Compost

What is Compost?

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If you ask plants, compost is a root-licking delicacy:) If you ask any composting enthusiast, compost is black gold. 
Simply stated, it is decayed organic matter, which is great for soil structure and provides beneficial nutrients to plants.

Cooking Time: 4-8 months

Serves: Everyone's interest!


For Collecting Kitchen Scraps

Allocate a bin to collect compostable kitchen scraps. Though you can use any covered bin, I found this kitchen countertop bin to be very useful. It also comes in a set. It has a charcoal filter in the lid that keeps smells at bay.

For Cooking the Compost
  • Any old bucket, clay pot or a plastic bin with a lid (3 of them. You'll start with one bin but will need others when the first fills up.) I would encourage you to start off with any old and handy container. As you get a hang of the process, you'll know what's the best for your family's size and available space. If your'e buying fresh bins, go for a capacity of 5 gallons each. You'll need a drill machine to make holes in the bin. 
  • A Compost Tumbler: A compost tumbler is a kind of a bin. It can have one or two chambers. I use a dual chambered Miracle-Gro tumbler. The advantage of a tumbler is that it can be rotated on its axis to roll and hence aerate the mix. It also looks visually pleasing and makes things more organized. Another popular choice is a dual chambered FCMP compost tumbler. There are single chambered bins too. I would recommend a dual chambered bin as once one chamber is filled, you can let the compost sit there to mature while adding material to the other chamber.  

Greens (Rich in Nitrogen):
Get all the greens you've got!

Browns (Rich in Carbon):
Get thrice the quantity of greens! 




Vegetable Peels

Dried Leaves 

Cooked Food

Fruit Peels 

Dried Plants, Twigs

Dairy Products

Citrus Peels 


Meat, Bones

Watermelon Rind

Brown Cardboard

Pet Waste

Egg Shells

Bagasse Packaging

Diseased Plants

Coffee Grounds

Bagasse Plates


Tea Bags

Uncoated Paper 

Glossy Paper

Rinsed Tea Leaves 

100% Paper Plates

Black Walnut Tree Leaves

Peanut, Pistachio Shells

Cardboard Egg CartonsGrass, Plant Cuttings if Treated with Pesticides

Mango, Avocado Pits

Cardboard Tubes from Tissue Rolls, Toilet Rolls etc.

Corn Husk & Cob

Sawdust, Wood Chips from Untreated or Natural Wood

Cotton, Pure Cotton Rags, Natural Wool

Grass, Plant Cuttings


I prefer only dry leaves and plants as my browns because they are natural. I think it's a better choice to recycle cardboard than to compost it. Same with newspaper and any other kind of paper.

However, shredded cardboard can save the day if you don't have access to dry leaves. I used cardboard  during lockdown when I couldn't go to any trails and collect dry leaves.

Cooked food, dairy and meat can attract rodents. Raw meat can also introduce harmful bacteria like Salmonella, E Coli etc. in the compost pile and therefore should not be added to the compost. (Food waste is a huge issue in itself. You can use these tips to stop wasting food.)

I am a vegetarian and my compost ingredients consist of veggie and fruit peels, rinsed tea leaves, dry leaves, occasional dried leaves from garden plants and soil. I don't like to add any cardboard, paper or processed stuff to my pile.

My Greens and Browns Collected and Ready to be Mixed. 
I used my daughter's beach buckets to start composting.

Accelerator : 

An accelerator is supposed to fasten the pace of decomposition. In other words, it helps increase microbial activity in the mix. 

Do note that microbes are present everywhere and the mix will eventually get decomposed, accelerator or not. Some people like to buy an accelerator. I have never bought it. 

Things that can be used as an accelerator:

Garden Soil or Store Bought Soil (I add this)
Ready Compost (I add this)
Thin Curd or Whey (I add this sometimes)
Cocopeat (I never bought this) 
A packaged accelerator (I never bought this) 


Whether you're using a bin or a compost tumbler, the basic process remains the same. I started with a bin to get the hang of the process and now I'm switching to a compost tumbler for ease of use.

1. If using a bin, drill holes on the sides and on the lid of the chosen bin. The holes are for air circulation. Holes can be drilled at the bottom too. Some water (which is also called compost tea) might get released during the composting process. Place a tray or a tub below the bin to collect this water. 

I didn't have a drill machine, so I didn't drill any holes. I just used to poke the mix quite often to aerate it.

2. Put a couple of inches of soil in the bucket. 

3. Cut greens in small pieces. This helps in faster decomposition. Remember, the smaller and softer the stuff, the faster it's going to decompose. Put greens in the bin. 

4. Add double or triple the quantity of dried leaves which will act as browns. You can crush leaves lightly for a faster decomposition. 

5. Add accelerator. I generally use garden soil or ready compost or a bit of sour curd as an accelerator. 

6. Mix with a shovel. Cover it with browns again. 

7. Keep adding greens and browns to this mix everyday or every few days and keep turning. I add a bit of soil or leaves as the top layer every time I add greens to the bin. This deters flies.  

8. When the bin gets full, let it rest. I poke the mix every few days for it to aerate. If you're using a composter, turn it every few days too. The compost will get ready in around 4-8 months, depending on a lot of factors, including weather. 

9. While the first bin rests, start the same process in another bin. If you're using a double chambered compost tumbler, let the first chamber rest and start the process in another chamber.

Location of the bin:

Keep it accessible, yet not too close to your house if space permits. Keep it away from rain and too much sun. Place a tray or a tub below the container to collect compost tea.

What should be the consistency of the mix?

It should be like a moist sponge. When you pick a handful of this mix and wring it, water shouldn't drip out of your hand. The mix should be moist. 

Too wet, and the compost will start smelling. 
Too dry, and the compost won't get decomposed well. 

Common Issues:

1. Smelly Compost - If you've added too little browns, it would start to smell bad. To rectify this, add at least double or triple the browns, get the moisture level right and aerate the compost well.

You can empty the contents of the bin in another bin or a tray and sun and aerate it for a while. Don't leave it out for too long as it would attract flies.

2. Wet Compost - Again, add more browns and aerate it well. The issue of smelly and wet compost go hand in hand. The compost starts smelling when it's wet and not well aerated.

3. Flies and Fruit Flies - Make sure that the compost is covered with browns or with soil. If there are fruit scraps like banana peels, pineapple skin, melon rinds, lemon peels etc. fruit flies get attracted to them. The easiest way is to bury these peels deep in the compost and cover them with soil. This helps prevents flies to get to their food source. 

4. Maggots in the Compost - Add more browns and get the moisture level right.

5. Too Dry a Compost - If the mix is sitting out in too much sun and has gotten dry, add some water to the compost. I haven't had to do it yet. I'm mostly trying to balance the wetness rather than dealing with dryness.

So basically, the answer to most composting issues would be:

Add More Browns!!
Add More Air!!
Keep it Moist!!

Cooking Time:

This depends on a lot of factors. I would say, don't worry too much about it. Fill it, shut it, forget it (errr...just keep aerating it though!). Decomposition is a slow process. It takes time and even if you are at it diligently, expect just one or, at the most, two rounds of finished compost in a year. 

If the temperature is in the 70s (F) and you've cut the greens to small bits and have diligently balanced greens and browns, the compost can get there anywhere between 4-8 months.  

You'll still find some stuff that hasn't been decomposed, like pistachio and peanut shells, mango and avocado pits, corn cobs etc. You can take this undecomposed stuff and add it to the next batch of compost.  

You might be a bit surprised to see that the mix has reduced to one-third or even less. As organic stuff decomposes, it loses moisture and hence volume. 

When the mix looks brown and smells like earth and when you're not able to identify if something was a former banana skin or an avocado peel, when you pick a lump and it crumbles well in your hand, voila! You've done it! Time to celebrate!


When the compost is done, serve with lots of love to your plants. They'll express their gratitude by being healthier, greener and more productive:) 

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Don't Waste The Seed - Eat Or Treat!

Since last few days, I have a little, restless investigator visiting my compost bucket. She relentlessly pokes and turns the compost, spreading bits and pieces all around, messing up my balcony!

I wondered what she was looking for in the compost. Was it something to build her nest with? Was it food? I think, it was a bit of both!

Then I had an idea. If she was looking for food, I could offer her something better. I had saved a few cantaloupe seeds from the last time I relished the melon. I thought of offering these seeds to the little birdie. 

Musk melon seeds are loaded with vitamins (A,C, E and K) and minerals like zinc and magnesium. 

It was such a delight when she pecked at them. There was another bird following her. Anya told me that was the baby. Soon, the Mom was feeding her baby with the seed too!

That was my aha moment. I had been discarding all watermelon, cantaloupe and pumpkin seeds. I did wash and dry them occasionally, but not always. Every time I threw them away, I remembered my childhood. 

The goodness that you throw away, if you don't use the seeds!

Summers meant vacations and melons. We would wash and dry the seeds of musk melons and watermelons and spend lazy hours chatting, peeling and relishing those seeds. 

Watermelon seeds are rich in magnesium, iron, folate and fiber.

The white and delicate seeds of musk melons were easier to crack than the black and hard seeds of watermelons. Both could be cracked by pressing between teeth in a certain manner.

I remember liking musk melon seeds better than watermelon ones. 
It was hard and slow work to peel those seeds but quite rewarding. 

Later, I got to know that these seeds are packed with nutrition.You can buy these kernels off the shelf. They are quite a delicacy and quite expensive too. 

Don't throw in landfill what you can share with your winged friends. 

We all know the nutritional benefits of pumpkin seeds. They are packed with micro nutrients like potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc and copper. We literally throw away nutrition when we don't use these seeds. 

Even if we don't use them for ourselves, we can offer them to our winged friends. 

Birds would relish both the seeds and the stringy pulp.

If you've a yard or a balcony, you can make a corner for birds. They love eating different fruits and berries. You can also offer them the whole gut of cantaloupe, pumpkin, squash etc. There's no need to separate the seeds out. They'll eat the pulpy strings and thank you for the treat. 

Birds  also love to peck at the leftover flesh of cantaloupe rinds. After they've cleaned the rinds, you can always toss the remains in your compost.

I've now decided never to throw away seeds or pulp of a melon, a pumpkin or a squash in the compost. If I want to use them for myself, I can dry the seeds. If I'm feeling lazy, I can leave the whole pulp and seeds for the birds. 

Thank you little birdie and my compost, for the lesson of the day!

This lesson also subtly highlights the issue that we have with modern lifestyle. 

We chuck away stuff (seeds) that come naturally packed (in a melon) to landfills (which emit methane) and then buy the same stuff (seeds) off the shelf (packaged in plastic) and again throw away the packaging in landfills (which cause leachates).

Just because we don't have time or energy to do the former. 
Just because we have a choice and can afford the latter! 

Just sayin'!

Leaving you with that thought! Ciao!

Image Credits: www.pexels.com