Even if you live in an apartment, you can still produce your own compost that you can use for making a rich and healthy potting mix for the plants that you grow both indoors and on your balcony.
Many people who compost in an apartment use a worm composter. This is usually referred to as vermicomposting. It’s an excellent method for making compost as the worms help to aerate the waste and also produce castings that are nutrient-packed and loved by plants.
However, if this doesn’t appeal to you or you think it will create too much mess, let me give you some other tips for making your own compost without them. There are various methods that you can use to compost your own green waste even if you have limited space.
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Let’s first look at the major reasons why apartment dwellers may not like the idea of composting with worms.
Disadvantages Of Vermicomposting
Although vermicomposting is a great system, it does increase your startup costs because you’ll also need to purchase worms as well as a dedicated compost bin that is suitable for housing the worms.
While you can often buy kits that include everything, these might just be out of your budget.
In addition, if you don’t get it just right when composting with worms, you might end up with some very unpleasant odors wafting through your apartment. No one wants that!
It also requires some extra skill and a good knowledge to compost with worms correctly and the maintenance can be a little more extensive than what you’re prepared to do.
Finally, harvesting vermicompost can be quite tedious because you need to separate the worms from the ready-made compost and you may not have enough space or knowledge to do this correctly.
So, if you’ve come to the conclusion that vermicomposting is not for you, let’s look at some of the other clever ways that you can be more sustainable and create your own compost in your apartment.
Invest In An Electric Composter
In my research, I was excited to discover that there are actually electric composters available that are perfect for apartment dwellers. Because I’ve composted for years and have a yard that can accommodate both a static compost bin and compost tumblers, I’ve never had the need to search for other alternatives.
These units might set you back a little in the beginning but they do most of the work for you and will give you years of happy composting using food waste and other organic material to make your own potting soil.
This is ideal if you’re serious about sustainable living and want to do all you can to turn your waste and organic matter into something productive.
Most of these electric composters are relatively compact and have a capacity of around three liters. They’re also nice-looking enough to sit on your kitchen counter if space is at a premium in your apartment.
Best of all, these units can decompose your food scraps fast! For example, one of the most popular units, the Lomi kitchen composter, can reduce a full container of kitchen scraps into nutrient-rich compost in under 24 hours.
For someone like me who has mostly used traditional methods of composting, this is just amazing. You can even add some packaging materials such as biodegradable plastics and it will compost those as well.
Here’s a video that shows you exactly how this clever electric composter works.
With this type of innovative technology, I could see these units becoming standard appliances in many kitchens around the world and not just those in apartments.
If it falls within your budget, this is definitely the most effortless indoor composting I’ve ever seen.
Use The Japanese Method Of Composting
In another article, I wrote about the Bokashi method that uses a Bokashi composter bucket to make excellent compost indoors. This is one clever way to make your own compost from food scraps and kitchen waste and doesn’t take a lot of effort.
This method uses a special ingredient called Bokashi bran that includes microbes to help break down the food scraps. It’s actually an anaerobic composting method which means that you need to eliminate as much air as possible for the composting process to work.
There’s also an added bonus when you use this composting method. The Bokashi indoor compost bin comes complete with a tap near the bottom. This allows you to dispense the liquid that is created as a result of the composting.
This liquid is actually compost tea and can be used to feed your house plants or other container-grown plants. It’s rich in nutrients and your plants will love it.
One major advantage to using this composting method is that you can add meat and dairy scraps into the compost bucket.
The only drawback of the Bokashi composting method is that the end result inside the bin is not ready to use compost. It needs to be buried in the soil and left for a couple of weeks before it’s ready to use.
However, if you have a balcony or even a garage attached to your apartment, you could easily just fill a large plastic bucket or garbage bin with potting soil and bury the Bokashi pre-compost in this.
Use A Mini Compost Tumbler
If your apartment has a balcony or small courtyard, you might like to consider getting a mini compost tumbler. This will allow you to make your compost the more traditional way.
In fact, there are fairly compact units, like the Squeeze master compost tumbler, that are only 32 inches in height and around 19 inches wide. One of these units can easily fit into a small space and sit on a balcony or in a small courtyard.
Remember that it’s best to place an aerobic composter in a relatively sunny spot. This is because the heat will help to speed up the composting process.
Take Your Kitchen Waste To A Community Garden
If you don’t have the time to invest in making your own compost or you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford one of the electric composters, you can still practice sustainability by taking your organic waste to a community garden.
Many community gardens have their own composters and would be more than happy to receive your kitchen scraps to add to them.
Just check with your local government municipality or council to see if there’s a community garden near you. Then reach out to the coordinator to see whether your kitchen waste would be welcomed.
You might need to do a weekly drop-off so that your waste doesn’t get too rancid while you’re storing it in a kitchen waste bucket.
Book A Compost Pick-Up Service In Your Local Area
As sustainability is at the top of everyone’s mind these days, compost pick-up services have sprung up all around the world. These will take your waste and compost it in dedicated facilities.
If you live in the US, check out this website for a compost pick-up service in your local area. For Australian apartment dwellers, this is even easier. Local councils have green bins that you can deposit your kitchen waste into.
Expert Tips For Composting In An Apartment Without Worms
Follow these expert tips to compost your kitchen waste easily and effectively.
- If you can afford it, an electric composter is the best choice for making compost indoors in an apartment.
- Composting that relies on the aerobic method needs to be turned regularly to be effective.
- You can use a compost activator such as the Bokashi bran to speed up the composting process.
- For more traditional composting methods, make sure that you add some “brown” waste to your kitchen scraps. Brown waste includes things like shredded newspaper and dried leaves.
- Keep your kitchen scraps in a container with a tight-fitting lid. This helps to keep our fruit flies and other pests. It will also stop nasty odors from filling your kitchen.
- If you’re using a Bokashi bucket or compost tumbler, cutting your scraps into smaller pieces will help to speed up the composting process.
- Don’t forget to add things like coffee grounds, tea bags and dead leaves to your compost or Bokashi bin.
- If you won’t be using your finished compost straight away, store it in a large tub or bucket with a tight-fitting lid. This will keep it clean until you’re ready to use it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Food scraps that end up in landfill will eventually break down on their own. However, as they do this, they produce a gas that is known as methane. This is an unfavorable greenhouse gas that has contributed significantly to climate change. Proper composting does not produce this gas.
While many food scraps can be composted indoors quite successfully, there are some things that you shouldn’t compost at home. These include meat and dairy products, eggs, bread or other grains, and grease or fats. You should also limit the amount of onion skins and citrus fruits that you add to your compost. These can be too acidic.
Yes, paper towels are organic and can be added to your compost. But make sure you shred them up a little first. You can also add shredded paper but avoid anything that has a plastic coating.
Even if you live in an apartment, you can still compost quite successfully without using a worm bin. There are various methods that you can use to make your own compost. This will stop you from adding your green waste to landfill.
You can choose from using an electric composter or learning the Bokashi method of composting. Or, you can make room for a mini compost tumbler or take your kitchen waste to a community garden.
At the end of the day, it’s up to each and every one of us to do what we can to reduce our carbon footprint. This means that we can be more sustainable to protect the environment that we live in.
Apart from that, making your own compost is a great way to keep your potted plants happy and thriving without using artificial fertilizers.