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5 Cool Composting Hacks to Save Your Plants From the Heat

Anju Singh runs a YouTube channel called ‘Unique Farming’ to explore her interest in gardening. Using simple ingredients like buttermilk, cow dung and leaves, she prepares compost that shields plants from excessive heat.

5 Cool Composting Hacks to Save Your Plants From the Heat

In the soaring temperatures of 41 degrees in New Delhi, Anju Singh’s garden is thriving and booming with colourful flowers. She owns a small garden of 100 plants comprising medicinal ones like basil, patharchatta (Kalanchoe Pinnata),neem, shami (Khejri) and harsingar (night-flowering Jasmine).

Her cool composting hacks are the secret to her flourishing garden in this scorching heat.

Anju says, “Usually, potted plants need special care during summer as excessive heat can stress the plants causing them to wither out. Watering alone is not sufficient to save them from drying.”

“Gardeners use several methods like a green net shade, shower systems that reduce temperature by five degrees, watering through drip throughout the day, changing the position of plants, mulching using rice husk, newspapers, and adding pebbles to the soil to shield them from harsh sunlight,” she adds.

Anju points out that while there are chances of damage caused due to harsh sunlight, adding chemical fertilisers like DAP (Di-ammonium phosphate) and urea can further the damage, leaving plants burnt. “Organic fertilisers like mustard khali (cakes) and bone meal should also be avoided as they are warm in nature,” she says.

She suggests making cool compost is an easy and effective way to prevent plants from drying up. In conversation with The Better India, she shares five cool composting secrets that retain moisture in the plants and help create a flourishing garden, even in the excessive summer heat.

Meet the journalist-turned-urban gardener

Anju runs a YouTube channel called ‘Unique Farming’ with her college friend, Pankaj Saini.
Anju runs a YouTube channel called ‘Unique Farming’ with her college friend, Pankaj Saini.

Before turning to urban gardening, Anju worked as a reporter. “I come from an agricultural background so I was always inclined towards it but was never at leisure to do so. Additionally, my beat as a reporter was also agriculture. I always thought that if I ever quit mainstream media, I would devote my time to farming,” she says.

It was after her childbirth that she could focus on her passion for farming. “During my pregnancy, I had switched from reporting to a desk job. But still, the work was very hectic. I would be home by 1 am. It was difficult for me to spare some time for my daughter,” she adds.

This continued for 1.5 years when Anju finally quit her job in 2022. Today, she runs a YouTube channel called ‘Unique Farming’ with her college friend, Pankaj Saini. They promote organic farming, small agro-businesses, and urban gardening.

After actively working for the past one year, the duo has managed to garner 109k subscribers on YouTube and 145k followers on Instagram. “Within three months of actively working, we started earning through our YouTube channel. Although it was less compared to my previous jobs, this work gives me peace of mind and flexibility as now I spend most of my time with my family,” she adds.

Recently, Anju created an informative video on cold composting hacks that take the least amount of effort and maintenance and do wonders for plants during the summers.

“Like doctors first try to control their patients’ health using tablets and advise IV (intravenous) drips when the condition is critical, gardeners should give liquid composts to plants to improve their health during summer,” she adds.

Here are her five cool composting hacks for summer-


Anju suggests giving 500 ml of buttermilk mixture to the plants once a month.
Anju suggests giving 500 ml of buttermilk mixture to the plants once a month.
  • Keep homemade buttermilk in a plastic container or bucket.
  • Place a copper utensil in the container. 
  • Leave the buttermilk to rot for at least 10 days.
  • Mix 200 ml of this buttermilk in 1 litre of water.
  • Give 500 ml of this mixture to the plants once a month.

“Keep in mind that you give this compost to the plants either in the evening or morning. Buttermilk is given to plants like curry leaves, harsingar, and bigger plants. Rich in calcium, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, it boosts the growth of microorganisms and makes soil porous to improve air circulation,” says Anju.

Cow dung slurry

  • Soak fresh cow dung or its cake (250 grams) in a bucketful of water for the night.
  • Dip it thoroughly in water and cover it with a lid.
  • Keep the mixture for three days.
  • After straining the mixture, pour a mugful of it into the pots.
  • Give this mixture to the plants once every 2-3 days.

“In summer, never add the fresh dung directly to the soil. Diluting it with water is a must. With the same cow dung, you can continue making the compost till the point it stops changing its yellowish colour and is out of use. Use the leftover cow dung for mulching,” advises Anju.

Soak fresh cow dung or its cake (250 grams) in a bucketful of water for the night.
Soak fresh cow dung or its cake (250 grams) in a bucketful of water for the night.

Vermicompost Tea

  • It is prepared similarly to cow dung liquid compost.
  • Soak vermicompost in a bucketful of water.
  • Leave the mixture for two days.
  • Later on, strain the mixture and give it to the plants.

“Considered one of the most cold composts, vermicompost tea lowers the soil temperature, promotes the growth of necessary microorganisms, and boosts the plant growth in a controlled and long-lasting manner,” she adds.

Neem khali

“Neem cake is listed among the top cold composts. It prolongs the availability of nitrogen to plants, builds long-term plant immunity, and retains moisture by controlling evaporation from direct sunlight,” says Anju.

She advises adding a handful of neem cake powder to the soil, away from the plant stem. “It can also be directly mixed into the potting mix. Add a mixture of 50 percent garden soil, 30 percent cow dung compost, and 20 percent neem khali to prepare the soil mixture. Thereafter, spray some water,” she adds.

Leaf compost

  • You can use small stems, bark, grass, leaves, and petals from the plants to make leaf compost.
  • Do not use fruits and peels which are used to prepare kitchen compost.
  • Keep leaves inside a container. Mix it in one litre of water.
  • Do not add rotten parts of plants into this compost.
  • Stir the mixture once every 2-4 days.
  • The compost will be ready to use in 2 to 2.5 months.

Anju says, “A plant requires at least 17 kinds of nutrients including nitrogen, calcium, sulphur, magnesium, manganese, boron, and molybdenum. Interestingly, this leaf compost contains all of these nutrients, and additionally helps in controlling unwanted weed growth as well as acts as a good mulching medium that retains moisture in the soil.”

Edited by Padmashree Pande. All photos: Anju Singh.

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