Small Space Composting Made Easy

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When people talk about composting, the first thing that usually comes to mind is a large mass of decomposed (yet fertile) materials piling up in someone’s backyard. However, composting is not solely a luxury of home-dwellers — folks in apartments can get in on the action, too. With a little craftiness and ingenuity, composting is a possibility in even the smallest of places.

What you’ll need

After you figure out where you’re going to put your compost bin — maybe under your bathroom sink, in a closet or on your patio — you’ll need something to actually contain it. Plastic boxes, metal containers, garbage bins and buckets all work fine, but make sure you have the tools to fashion several small holes for aerobic respiration.

If you’re going to make fertile soil, you’ll have to mimic conditions of natural soils, which need a steady supply of fresh air. Freshly shredded newspaper and some dirt will serve as the foundation of your compost companion.

Fill it up

Wait! Don’t throw your meat in the compost! There are certain dos and don’ts for material suitable for compost heaps. Think about it like this — if it came from the earth, it can return to the earth. Coffee grounds, banana peels, brown paper bags, old bread, apple cores and wine corks are the kind of things that are suitable for composting.

You’ll want to avoid things like animal parts (meat, bones), animal products (dairy, poop), or anything made in a laboratory like chemicals or plastic — these things will start to smell and attract bugs.

Hire some (microscopic and vermiculite) staff

What you see above is a species of rotifer, a special type of microorganism that ingests bacteria that naturally reproduce in compost, consumes them and excretes materials that make up rich, fertile soil. In other words, a compost without living organisms is a dull affair. Available online, rotifers accelerate the composting process and improve the quality of the final product.

Earthworms work a similar way by ingesting the decomposing materials and creating natural aeration pathways in the soil. Their end products are the natural, healthy materials that plants need. You can easily find these in the sporting goods section of retail stores and with merchants who specialize in gardening.

Maintain your compost

Be sure to regularly stir your compost. Since not everything will decompose at the same time or rate, you’ll want to support a healthy balance. Add water if it’s too dry, or more newspaper if it’s too wet.

What to do when it’s ready

Of course, composting is great if you want to grow some plants in your small apartment since it naturally contains everything plants need to grow big and vibrant. Or, you could give it to a friend. Be sure to pat yourself on the back for being a friend of the Earth.

You don’t need a spacious backyard to begin recycling your own waste. Utilize space in your apartment to achieve your compost dreams!


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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.