How to Compost in Your Apartment

The image of someone who composts is not exactly that of a city-dweller. However, going green is seriously in vogue, and an increasing number of people are taking the plunge—into composting, that is.

While you may have already attempted apartment gardening on your balcony, composting is another beast entirely. Fortunately, you’re not alone in this endeavor. I’m here to teach you how to compost in your apartment!

What is Composting?

When you think of composting, you probably envision a pile of food scraps and leaves behind a shed emitting a strange odor. While this isn’t totally off base, your compost container garden is going to look (and smell) a bit different. However, the purpose is still the same.

Composting is a process by which organic materials (think banana peels, cardboard, flowers, etc.) decompose to create a nutrient-rich material that’s great for soil. You can use the results of your composting experiment to help the plants in your apartment garden thrive. Plus, it’s awesome for the environment!

In fact, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, only 5 percent of the more than 36 million tons of food waste that’s generated in a given year is used for composting instead of going into landfills or incinerators.

Is that crazy or what? Learning how to compost will not only give you a gorgeous balcony garden, it will help reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. You’re welcome, Mother Earth!

How to Compost in Your Apartment

Before you can begin composting, you’ll need to round up these materials:

  • Plastic container

  • Two lids

  • Pebbles

  • Worms

  • Soil

  • Water

Now that you have the materials assembled, it’s time to start composting. If the container you purchased does not already have holes, punch some in the bottom and top of it. This will accomplish two very important things: ventilation and drainage.

Next, shred the paper you gathered (this can be anything from newspapers to old bills and junk mail). As you do so, place the pieces of paper in a bowl of water and allow them to soak.

Set one of the lids underneath the container (to keep the mess to a minimum), and carefully wring out the paper strips before placing them in the bottom. Fill up the container about a third of the way full with the wet paper. If you are able to get your hands on some dry grass clippings, feel free to add those as well.

This next part is kind of gross, but totally worth it. Pick up the worms (I would probably wear gloves, because I’m totally terrified of slimy things) and place them in the container, along with a sprinkling of soil. Now that that’s over, the fun part begins!

Toss in your food scraps and other compostable materials. These can include:

  • Cardboard

  • Coffee grounds

  • Dryer lint

  • Egg shells

  • Flowers

  • Fruit peels

  • Hair

  • Nut shells

  • Tea leaves

  • And more!

If you’re unsure whether something can be composted, do a quick Web search. After you’ve put everything compostable you can find in the container, cover it in the remaining paper strips and mix it all together. Secure the lid on top, store it in a cool sunshine-free area, and you’re done!

You’ll want to mix your compost about once a week, as well as any time you add more food scraps, etc. Be sure to add a bit of fresh soil every two weeks! If it starts to emit an unpleasant odor (and it might), simply add more paper strips.

Your compost should be ready to use in about three to six months. Add it to your apartment garden and watch it grow like they never have before!

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