How to Compost in an Apartment

Do you like the idea of composting? Are you wondering how to compost in an apartment, or question if it’s even possible to compost in a small space? Have you ever wondered how to make compost at home?

Composting enriches the soil, keeps scrap material out of landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.

Plus the compost makes rich fertilizer that gives your plants the best possible nutrition.

This guide will show you how to compost in an apartment easily and effectively.

How to Make Compost at Home

Composting can bring some thoughts to mind like ew, smelly, and worms!

But doing it correctly is sanitary and produces less smell. Plus you’ll hardly see the worms (if you choose to compost with worms), since they’ll be too busy doing their jobs to pay you a visit.

You can get a small composter for apartments that will fit in small spaces (Gardening in small spaces is getting easier and easier, check out Tower Gardening for more info).

Indoor composters can be for composting with or without worms, so you can choose which method is best for you. Once you have a bin, all you need is the material for the compost. 

The Elements of Composting 

Composting is comprised of 3 to 4 elements, including greens and browns. Greens and browns refer to compost matter.

Greens are mainly food scraps, and browns refer to dead leaves, twigs and even newspapers.

If you want a complete list of what is considered green or brown material, check out this list.

After your greens and browns, the third element required is water. Composting needs some moisture to get going.

The fourth element is the worms (again, if you’re using them).

You can compost successfully without the worms, but if you’re using them, you will need redworms or manure worms. They are the ones that will eat scraps and poop out fertilizer.


Apartment Composting

It’s easy to do worm-free composting or worm composting in small apartments. You can set up an out-of-sight bin if you want to – under the kitchen sink, perhaps?

If you have a balcony, that might be the perfect spot for your compost bin, as it will save on space inside.

It gets the bin out of the way and, depending on your balcony, may allow you to have more compost than what you could fit inside.

There is also a method called vertical worm composting. It looks efficient and it doesn’t take up too much space. Check out this video to learn more.

Depending on size, any method can be used on the balcony. Worm composting or worm-free composting can be easy and simple to set up.

Then, all you have to do is get the scraps.


How to Make Compost From Kitchen Waste

Learning what is and what is not okay to compost can be a challenge at first, but once you get the basics down, you’ll be a pro.

Some people choose to get a small kitchen composter where they store food scraps before sending it to the compost pile. 

This article shares a simple guide on how to turn kitchen scraps into compost material. It also shows what you should and shouldn’t compost.

Make sure scraps are chopped or torn up before throwing in the compost pile to make decomposition occur faster.

What You’ll Need to Compost in an Apartment

What You Need

  • Bin
  • Greens
  • Browns
  • Water
  • Redworms/manure worms (optional)

5 Steps to Composting in a Small Space

Done gathering the materials? Good. Now follow these simple steps and learn how to compost in a small space.

Step #1. Choose an Apartment Compost Bin

There are awesome apartment composting systems to get you composting right at home and in small spaces.

Composting does not have to be extravagant. It can get the job done even in tiny settings.

You can purchase compost bins designed for small spaces, and even some small starter kits that are great for beginners.

For apartment composting DIY, you can even build your own bin to fit your needs.

Building a compost bin is fun and cheap. You can use storage bins, 5-gallon buckets, cat litter buckets or wood.

If you’re using worms, make sure to have holes at the top and bottom for airflow and drainage. You might want to put some mesh material around the holes, so the worms cannot escape.

You will also need to choose a bin that is not see-through when choosing worms. Worms love the dark.

Step #2. To Worm or Not To Worm

There are two methods of composting and both can be done indoors in a small space.

The two methods are: composting without worms, or composting with worms (vermicomposting).

Without Worms

First up is how to compost in an apartment without worms.

To do worm-free composting correctly, you’re going to need to have patience and monitor the compost extra carefully.

Make sure you have an equal ratio of greens and browns. Every time you toss in scraps, throw in some paper or dried leaves as well to keep it balanced.

The stuff will naturally decompose over 3-12 months.

With Worms

Next up is apartment composting with worms. Worms need bins with holes so they can breathe.

Worms like newspaper and need a bed of it. Place shredded newspaper at the bottom of the bin until it’s about two inches high.  

Then, place in an equal ratio of greens and browns. Make the browns gritty so the worms can use it to help break down food to eat.

Some gritty material include sawdust (from untreated wood), eggshells, dried leaves and fine sand.

Then add the worms!

Grab a handful of material from the top and place the worms in the hole before covering them back up.

Step #3. Add Material to Make Indoor Compost 

To make compost, make sure to have enough greens mixed with browns. An equal, 50-50 ratio is the way to go.

You can also use greens and browns to troubleshoot the status of the compost bin. If your compost pile starts to smell, add in more browns. If your compost pile is really dry, add in more greens.

Do not add fresh manure to the compost pile if you’re using worms. While some aged manures are generally okay to use, fresh manure contains ammonia and high salt levels that can kill the worms.

Step #4. Water

Whichever method you choose, you want to make sure all the material is moist. You don’t want it to be soaked, but damp. The dampness should be like a wrung-out rag.

You may have to feel around to see if it’s getting enough water and if not, water a little bit at a time.

If you’re doing the worm-free method, be sure to stir thoroughly after watering so you don’t have inconsistent moisture throughout.

Step #5. Stir and Collect

The worm-free method should be stirred up once a week to help with decomposing and to prevent rotting. Depending on the size of your compost, you can stir with a rake, shovel, mini shovel or a large wooden spoon.

When stirring, make sure all material gets tossed and moved. It will be helpful to get new materials into the middle because the middle of the pile is where the magic happens.

After stirring consistently, in 3-12 months, you will have fertilizer! At this point, you can take out the fertilizer and use it.

Step #6. Continue the Cycle

The worm method does not need consistent stirring because the worms will do that for you, but what the worms do need is their bedding to be refreshed once they have turned it all into fertilizer.

If you no longer see their original bedding (at around 3-6 months), and their poop has taken over the majority of the space, you will have to collect the fertilizer, separate the worms and refresh their beddings.

Once the original bedding is no longer visible, take everything out, lay down fresh bedding as described in step 2 and place the worms and some of the fertilizer back in.

You can keep the rest of the fertilizer at this point!

Once everything is back in place, continue to add greens and browns to continue the cycle.

The worms will also multiply every 90 days or so. So, each time you need to refresh, there will be more worms.

More worms will break down the compost faster, but you may want to control the population.

A lot of worms can cause overcrowding and they might starve if you don’t produce enough scraps. This would be a great time to either start a bigger compost or give some worms to a friend.


Don’t Throw Away the Scraps

There you have it – the easy way to compost at home! There are many options and techniques available to you to utilize in small spaces.

From storing scraps under the sink to composting in an apartment balcony, your small space will not limit you to creating less waste.

Note: If you are choosing to compost on your balcony, you can set up a rain barrel for a small space and get some solar lights to spruce up the area. You can use the rainwater to water your compost and save on water! Make sure to purify your water first if it's something you also use for drinking!

If you liked this article, please share it. And if you are composting in a small space, show us your setup!

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