How to Compost in an Apartment
*This post contains affiliate links, learn more about affiliate links (what they do and how I choose companies to partner with) by clicking here*
I’ve been wanting to try composting for a while now, but I always thought I would have to wait until I had a house with a yard large enough to hold a rotting pile of food to be able to do it myself.
So when Ethan got me this composting pail below, I decided it was time to learn how to compost in my apartment. And now I’m taking you on this little journey with me, so let’s learn how to compost!
According to other websites, the composting bin should be kept outside near the garden and a water source. But I want to try keeping my compost inside, under the kitchen sink. To be fair, it’s still close to a water source and my bin has a charcoal filter so, ideally, it won’t make my apartment smell. (Note: I did end up moving the bin outside and this seemed to help because the compost would get hotter, however, it still worked well inside, it just may be a little slower.)
Before you start composting, you need to buy worms. This will speed up the composting process and create great soil for gardening. I have found that Red Wigglers and Redworms are the best types of worms for composting, apparently they enjoy living in compost more than regular soil. It’s also very important that you don’t go outside to dig up worms from your yard. Most likely, the worms you will find are called nightcrawlers, this type of worm needs to live in a large space as they enjoy digging tunnels. They also won’t eat your compost so you’ll just end up with some dead worms and rotting food.
I bought 100 Redworms from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm and this seems to be the perfect amount for this size of composting bin.
(and you can get 10% off your purchase by using the code UJW10)
One other thing to do before you start composting is to compile enough food scraps, cardboard, and scrap paper to use in your compost. I keep an old ziplock bag in my freezer and I fill it with whatever food scraps I end up with throughout my day. This prevents the food from rotting and smelling until I have enough to fill my bin. It’s best to cut your compost into thin strips or small chunks before placing them in the compost. You could cut them into pieces before freezing them, but I have found that it’s actually easier to cut the food scraps when they are slightly frozen.
Now it’s time to set up the bin.
First, find some old newspaper or scrap paper that’s ready to be recycled (you could use old envelopes, cards, homework, recipes - anything on paper, as long as its not shiny/glossy paper) and cut it into strips. Soak the strips in water for a few minutes then use them to line the bottom of your compost bin.
Next, add the worms along with some soil. I added all 93 worms I had left (I might have accidentally killed about seven of them by letting them escape from the bag the night before...) and about half an inch of soil.
Now that you have your worms, its time to start composting! Woohoo! Below is a graphic that will help explain what items can be composted and will separate these items into green and brown matter. You’ll want to alternate between the two kinds of matter, adding soil after every time green matter is added.
To start, make sure to cut up all the matter you plan to add to your bin so you end up with thin strips. Add about two inches of green matter then one inch of brown matter and cover with soil. Some websites will say that you want more brown than green matter but I found that my worms didn’t want to eat as much brown matter as they did green matter so in an effort not to starve them I gave them more green matter after a few weeks.
If your matter ends up a little dry, you can use a mister to dampen the matter, this will speed up the process. However, with more green matter than brown, the compost should naturally be on the wetter side. Finally, mix up the matter with a large fork or spoon, or your hand if you’re feeling adventurous.
Repeat this process when you have enough matter to create another two inches of each color. As time goes on, your worms will reproduce at an alarming rate so you can start adding more and more compost and it should decompose at a relatively similar rate as the first time you did it.
Every few days, use a large fork or spoon to mix the matter, even if you have not added any new matter. In about three months your compost should be ready to go to your garden. When the compost is ready it will look and smell like very dark soil and it will have a crumbly texture.
Next week I’ll be sharing with you what I put in my bin and how well it worked so stay tuned for a few more tips and tricks. But in the meantime...
Let me know
Do you already compost? Are you ready to start? How'd it go? I'd love to hear about it!