Discover 5 cheap and easy solutions for small-space composting, whether you live in an apartment, condo, or tiny home.
Whether you live in an apartment, condo, or tiny house, here are some easy and practical ways to combat your small-space composting dilemma.
Growing your own food is important to your overall health, as well as the planet’s. You want to do as much as you can, but you live in an apartment or condo with rules about what you can and cannot do on your balcony or patio. You barely have enough room to grow anything, much less to have some sort of compost pile.
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As a small-space composter, you’re probably looking for composting solutions that can accomplish a number of things:
- Works in a Small Space: You barely have enough room for growing your own food. Where in the world are you going to put a compost bin?
- Easy to Set Up and Use: A compost pile is daunting. You want the composting solution to be easy to set up and easy to use.
- Won’t Attract Bugs: There is nothing worse than bugs in a small space. No bugs in the compost bin!
- Works as Quickly as Possible: Do you want to use the compost as soon as possible? There are solutions for that, too!
Small-Space Composting Solutions
There are many solutions for your small-space composting. It all depends on what is important to you from the above list. What is your priority?
Here are some solutions to consider:
The easiest way to compost indoors cheaply, easily, and quickly is to use a worm bin. Vermiculture (or worm composting) produces worm castings that make worm tea—perfect for feeding the soil of your container plants.
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Plastic Storage Bins
Plastic storage bins are an excellent choice because they’re fairly inexpensive and easy to find. They come in a variety of sizes so that you can get the right size bin for your space. Ten to 18 gallons is a good size. You can even stack the bins to save space. Make sure you drill aeration holes near the top to allow air into your bin.
Another option that is very inexpensive and stackable. You can find 5-gallon buckets with lids at home centers and big-box stores, and you can often find them for free at bakeries and the like. Large plastic kitty litter containers work great, too! Be sure to drill aeration holes near the top of the bucket or container.
Old wooden boxes or wine crates can be turned into an indoor composter. Add a plastic bag stapled to the inside and cover with a hinged lid or painters’ canvas.
Bokashi (Japanese Term Meaning “Fermented Organic Matter”)
The Bokashi method is easy and composts everything—from kitchen scraps to meat and dairy. You mix an inoculated bran filled with microbes into the Bokashi bucket and tightly cover it. When the bucket is full, seal it shut and set it to the side for 10 to 12 days. Every other day, drain the bucket (which also makes a nice compost tea). You’ll have pre-compost, which can be put in worm bins or left for a month to break down further.
Where Do You Put a Compost Bin?
- Under the sink
- Under a plant stand
- In a hall closet
- Out in the open (It’s a great conversation starter!)
How Much Do You Put In?
Two types of material make composting work. They are nitrogen materials—such as food scraps and grass clippings—and carbon materials—such as leaves, shredded paper, and corrugated cardboard.
What to Put in Your Compost Bin:
- Fruit and veggie scraps
- Coffee grounds
- Tea bags (If the bag is slippery, don’t put it in your compost)
- Shredded paper
- Trimmings from houseplants
- Hair (yours and your pets)
- Toilet paper rolls torn into small pieces
- Dryer lint
What Not to Put in Your Bin:
An indoor compost bin doesn’t heat up as much as a hot outdoor bin, so there is less microbial action happening (except for when you’re using the Bokashi method). This means that the kitchen scraps won’t break down very quickly, especially if you add in:
- Large chunks of anything
It’s also probably a good idea to avoid composting very smelly items, such as onion peels. You may smell it in the rest of your house. Try to avoid watery items, such as melons or squash. They might make your bin too soggy.
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Tips for Success
If you want to be successful with indoor composting, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Have shredded paper or dry leaves handy. Every time you add food scraps or coffee grounds, plop in a handful of the shredded paper or leaves. This will keep your bin from getting too wet. Note: Junk mail works perfectly for this purpose as long as it is not the slick-coated advertisements.
- The contents of your bin need to be turned often. Turning the contents of your bin warms it up and makes microbes very happy. It also mixes the contents, so they don’t get too wet or too dry. Move everything around with a hand trowel. An advantage to the round bucket method is that you can roll it back and forth a few times to mix it.
- No matter what kind of bin you have, add small pieces. Pulp from your juicer will break down much faster than chunks of vegetables. Chop up your food scraps or put them through a blender, and be sure to shred your paper or cardboard.
It is possible to compost in small spaces, such as apartments, condos, or tiny houses. After a while, you’ll get a feel for what works and what doesn’t with your chosen composting method. It will be a great feeling to know that you’re saving waste from the landfill and making compost for your container garden.
What Do You Think?
What is your favorite composting method? Let us know in the comments!
This is an updated version of an article that was originally published on September 9, 2017. The author may not currently be available to respond to comments, however we encourage our Community members to chime in to share their experiences and answer questions!
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