Composting 101: Apartment Composting

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Want to divert your food waste to a compost bin but don't think you have the space? Believe it or not, if you have even a small balcony or unused corner in your apartment, there's a way to compost!

Here are a few ways for apartment dwellers who want to compost. Not sure if it's for you? Start small and see what works for you.

What You'll Need
Kitchen food scraps
Dry (brown) material
Composter of choice

Indoor compost bin

One of the cheapest, easiest ways to compost with minimal space is to use a metal garbage can modified for use as a compost bin. This method costs only as much as you're willing to put down for your garbage bin and other supplies.

You will need a garbage bin in a size of your choosing (drilled with holes), newspaper, a rubber mat, potting mix, composted manure, old furniture legs or small wooden legs, and of course, food scraps. It will take approximately 3 months to generate usable compost.

When properly aerated and kept, with a balance between food scraps and dry material, kitchen bins will largely be odourless.

Fermentation (Bokashi)

The Bokashi Composting System uses a microbial agent to ferment food scraps to produce ready-to-use compost in two weeks. Unlike other composters, you can compost meat, fish, and dairy, with no gross smells or bugs -- all you need to do is add your food scraps and the bran containing the necessary micro-organisms to anaerobically ferment your kitchen waste.
Once the fermentation is completed, the compost scraps (or pre-compost) can be added to a worm bin or buried directly into soil. They'll take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to integrate into the soil, depending upon local soil biological activity and local climate. You can also convert the pre-compost into usable potting soil.

Starter kits, complete with bin and bran, start at $50.

Electric composters

If you're short on square footage, a mechanized composter is a garbage can-sized unit that can easily be stowed in a standard cabinet.

Electric composters mix, heat, and aerate food scraps before transferring the material to a lower chamber, which produces fresh, garden-ready compost -- every two weeks!


Vermi-what? Vermicomposting refers to composting using worms and taps into the digestive talents of wriggly earthworms to break down organic matter into compost. It's good for small spaces but can also be used as a substitute or supplement to backyard composting.
CreditStefan Szczelkun 
via Photopin (cc)

You can find a step-by-step tutorial on making an indoor compost bin here and here.

You can find out more about fermenting compost at the Bokashi website here.

Though odour-free and small, the composters can get pricey, so be prepared to pay upwards of $100 for a unit.


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