Beginners Guide To Composting In Small Spaces

While living in an apartment, composting can seem impossible. It’s not like you can just start your own compost pile in your backyard. Because, well, you don’t have a backyard. I know you are wondering to yourself, is composting while living in an apartment possible? And is it a hassle?

I am new to composting and I compost in an apartment. I’m here to tell you that it’s definitely possible. Not only that, but apartment composting barely takes any effort.

Why Should We Compost:

We all have seen those photos of landfills with mountains of garbage. When organic scraps fill our landfills it is difficult to decompose there. As a result, 16% of methane emissions are from un-decomposed waste in our landfills. Ain't Nobody Got Time For No Methane! Therefore, composting is an excellent way to combat those nasty emissions into our environment. You will not only help your environment out but your garden and plants will love you! You are welcome.

How Does Composting Work Composting is simple. This is the basic process:

You need to collect your kitchen waste of the day (veggie scraps, coffee grounds, tea leaves, and tea bags, bread, rotten food, etc). This is the GREEN stuff – rich in nitrogen and contains more moisture. You also need dry leaves, newspaper shreds, cardboard, twigs, sawdust, etc. This is the BROWN stuff – rich in carbon and contains less moisture

What Can I Compost: Compost:

  • Eggshells

  • Vegetable and fruit stalks and peelings (including corn cobs)

  • Grass cuttings and weeds (sparingly)

  • Tea leaves and coffee grounds

  • Paper towels, tissues, newspaper

  • Flour items (bread, crackers, doughnuts, etc.)

  • Old spices

Do Not Compost:

  • Dairy products

  • Fish

  • Meat and bones

  • Grease or oils of any kind

  • Diseased plant material

  • Disposable diapers

  • Glossy paper

  • Ashes

Essential Supplies:

1. Two Buckets

2. A Drill

3. Brown Stuff

4. Green Stuff

Simple Right?

How To Compost For apartments and other smaller living spaces, like me. It is the best bet is to go for a compost bin. This can be as simple set-up as a plastic bucket with holes poked in the sides for airflow – to as complex as the Food Cycler (it’s just complex as a contraption; it’s ridiculously easy to use) If you’re going with the basic set-up, this is what you need to do:

  1. Use a 5-gallon bucket (I used a 2-gallon bucket, use what you want), and get a snug-fitting lid for it.

  2. Drill about 10 holes in the bottom of the bucket (the base), about 10 holes in the lid, and 5 to 8 holes around the side at various heights. These holes are to allow airflow inside and out.

  3. Sometimes, the holes at the bottom get clogged by the compost material. To prevent this, place twigs and sticks across the bottom of the bucket – they will act as a net to prevent clogging of the drain holes.

  4. Start dumping the green and brown stuff in a 1:3 ratio daily, as mentioned above. Keep the bin covered with the lid at all times.

  5. The ideal method is to drop some browns in first, add some greens, and then browns again, and so on. Add them in alternating layers, while maintaining the ratio.

  6. ‘Turn’ the mixture once a week, i.e. mix it thoroughly so that it gets more homogeneous and there’s sufficient airflow for the magic to happen. (If the bucket is cylindrical, you can also roll it on the ground for the contents to mix together without you having to open it and mix it with a stick or your (gloved) hand.)

  7. Continue the daily routine of adding greens and browns until the bin gets full. Close the lid and keep it aside.

  8. If needed, you can start a new bucket. Follow the same steps from number 1 above.

  9. Meanwhile, the contents of the first bucket are decomposing away. Make sure you open it once a month and mix it up and prod it along. Check on how it’s progressing. You’ll find the initial materials ‘reducing’ in quantity and soil increasing. The microorganisms are slowly converting the raw materials that you put in into compost.

  10. Once the compost is ready, use it!

With a little practice and minimal weekly work, you can create a kitchen compost bin that will drastically reduce the amount of waste you’re sending to the curb each week. Some cities have had such success with composting programs that they’ve reduced the frequency of their trash pickups! Click HERE to find a composting program in your city.

Wouldn't My Compost Attract Flies and Unwanted Pests? Not if you’re careful about it. Out of sight out of mind right? Not with composting, you have to make sure you do your part. Remember to keep the cycle going and use the compost you’ve created in your garden to feed the next generation of fruits, veggies, and flowers. But what to do with compost if you don’t garden? You can still make that sweet-smelling compost and then gift it to your neighbors, friends, or the local farmers market or gardener’s store. It’s precious, and whoever takes it will be very grateful!

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