What is the Best Way for Apartment Residents to Compost?

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For those who live in apartments, composting may seem impossible. However, this is not the case. Even without access to a yard, apartment-dwellers can still enjoy the benefits of composting by using container composting on their balcony or vermicomposting indoors with worms.

Container composting in an apartment is similar to doing it in a yard, but on a smaller scale. A plastic box, ceramic barrel, or countertop container can be used as a bin, as long as it has air holes and a lid to keep rodents out. It’s also important for the bin to be small enough for easy maneuvering. Start the bin with brown, carbon-rich materials such as leaves, newspaper, or potting soil. When adding green, nitrogen-rich food scraps, bury them and aerate the bin every couple of weeks. The bin must also be moistened periodically to ensure everything breaks down.

Vermicomposting with worms requires more attention and time. You can purchase a commercial worm condo or make your own using a shallow container with a lid. Make holes in the top and sides for air circulation and drainage. Start with a comfortable bed for the worms, using a mixture of leaves, potting soil, and moistened strips of black and white newspaper. Avoid using magazines because of the toxins in colored ink. Use Eisenia fetida, also known as red worms, for vermicomposting, as they are content living in a box. Approximately 2000 of these worms, weighing two pounds (907 grams), can process around a pound (450 grams) of food scraps daily. They enjoy a varied diet of fruit, vegetables, eggshells, and coffee grounds, but not meat, fish, dairy, or citrus. Chop up food scraps into small pieces, lay the worms on top, and leave the lid off. These worms thrive in temperatures between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (13 and 27 degrees Celsius). In two to three months, they will produce rich, dark worm castings or vermicompost.

Overall, composting is beneficial to the environment and can be done easily even in an apartment. Click ahead for more information on composting.

Additional Information

Related Articles

  • The Process of Vermicomposting
  • Engaging Worms in Activities
  • Which U.S. City Composts the Most Waste?
  • Starting a Potted Garden
  • Guide to Growing an Herb Garden
  • Useful Tips for Organic Gardening

Sources

  • Flower Press author Mary Appelhof’s “Worms Eat My Garbage” (1997)
  • Farm Aid’s article “Is it possible to compost in the city?” in June 2007
  • The City of New York’s “Add Worms” page
  • The City of New York’s “Adding Food Scraps to Your Worm Bin” page
  • The City of New York’s “Harvesting Vermicompost” page
  • The City of New York’s “Indoor Composting with a Worm Bin” page
  • The City of New York’s “Setting Up Your Worm Bin” page
  • The City of New York’s “Troubleshooting Indoor Worm Bin Composting” page
  • University of Illinois Extension’s “Chicago Home Composting: Choose a System” page
  • University of Illinois Extension’s “Chicago Home Composting: Worm Composting” page
  • WebEcoist’s article “Smart Composting Tips for Urban Gardeners & Apartment Dwellers”

FAQ

1. How can apartment-dwellers compost without a yard?

One option for composting in an apartment is using a worm bin, also known as vermicomposting. This involves keeping a container of worms, usually red wigglers, to eat your food scraps and turn them into nutrient-rich compost. Another option is using a bokashi bin, which uses a fermentation process to break down food scraps. Both of these methods can be done indoors and don’t require a yard.

2. What should apartment-dwellers do with their finished compost?

Apartment-dwellers with finished compost can use it for potted plants or donate it to community gardens or local parks. Some cities also have compost drop-off locations where residents can bring their finished compost to be used for city landscaping projects.

3. Is it possible to compost in a small apartment?

Yes, it is possible to compost in a small apartment using a worm bin or bokashi bin. Both of these methods are compact and can be kept indoors without taking up too much space. It’s important to make sure the bins are properly maintained and not overfilled to avoid any unpleasant odors.

4. Can apartment-dwellers compost without attracting pests?

Using a worm bin or bokashi bin can help prevent attracting pests, as they are both contained and don’t emit strong odors. It’s important to avoid adding meat, dairy, or oily foods to the bins, as these can attract pests. Regularly emptying the bins and keeping them clean can also help prevent any issues with pests.

5. How often should apartment-dwellers empty their compost bins?

The frequency of emptying compost bins will depend on the size of the bin and the amount of food scraps being added. For worm bins, it’s recommended to empty the bin every 3-6 months and harvest the finished compost. For bokashi bins, the fermentation process takes about 2 weeks and the contents can then be added to a larger outdoor compost bin or taken to a drop-off location.

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