composting in an apartment

Composting in an Apartment: How to Get Started

In Apartment Living, Lifestyle by Adam's Crossing Apartments

composting in an apartment

Composting in an apartment can be a great idea if you’re environmentally conscious and want to put less waste in the garbage. It’s also a terrific way to produce nutrient-rich soil for growing houseplants or outdoor plants on your balcony.

If you have children, you can use composting as a hands-on activity to teach them about nature and the life cycle this summer. Composting can be a lot of fun for the whole family and instill in children the importance of recycling.

One concern you may have is that composting will produce bad smells, but that shouldn’t be the case if you use the right type of food waste. Just keep in mind that when composting is done correctly, it should produce no odor.

Two Types of Indoor Composting

There are two primary ways to compost indoors: vermicomposting and aerobic composting. Vermicomposting requires worms, which help to break down waste into healthy soil. Aerobic composting simply relies on microbes from existing healthy soil to break down the food waste.

Hot composting, which relies on warm outdoor temperatures and sunlight, is another composting method that must be done outdoors. This is the type that people usually have in their backyards.

Get Started with Composting in an Apartment

Composting in an apartment can be as low-tech or sophisticated as you like. You can purchase an indoor compost bin with trays that let compost material flow from one level to the other, but you can also use simple plastic storage containers that have lids to create an inexpensive composting bin. If you want to compost on a very small scale with your children, you can even start with large see-through plastic jars with lids so they can easily see what’s going on inside. If you use plastic jars or storage containers, you’ll need to drill or poke some holes in the lids and sides to encourage air flow. You can easily find tips for creating different types of compost bins from storage containers and jars on the Internet but we’ll give you all the basics here.

For storing your bin, you’ll need to choose a place in your apartment that is cool, dry, and dark. Ideal spots are under your kitchen or bathroom sink or in a small closet or pantry.

Compost should have three main layers, which you can easily assemble once you’ve gathered the materials. You’ll need old newspapers or cardboard, some garden soil which you can purchase or find outdoors, and some food scraps. The amount you’ll need will vary based on the size of your compost bin or jar, but roughly you’ll need one-third of each.

If you’re going to vermicompost, you’ll also need to purchase red worms. Just use your favorite Internet browser to search for “red worms for composting.” Or try Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm.

Assemble your compost layers by first adding the old shredded newspapers and cardboard, then add your first batch of food scraps, and finally, top this off with the layer of garden soil. If you’re vermicomposting, you’ll add the worms to the garden soil or use soil that came with worms already mixed in. But before you get started, you do need to be careful to add the right kind of food scraps.

What Type of Food Waste Should You Compost?

Foods which are ideal for indoor composting include:

  • Raw fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Coffee grounds and used coffee filters
  • Tea leaves
  • Eggshells
  • Nutshells

Dried leaves, small twigs, and grass clippings are also great for composting.

Never use the following in your compost bin:

  • Meat or fish
  • Bones
  • Fat
  • Dairy products
  • Cooked food

Maintaining Your Compost Bin

In order to break down food waste, composting requires oxygen. That means you’ll need to open the bin and stir the soil and food layers together at least once or twice a week or as you add new food waste. In a few months, you should start to see new fresh soil developing in your compost bin. As your bin produces more and more of this new soil, you can remove some occasionally to fertilize and grow new plants in your apartment. If your child has helped you compost, using the soil to grow a new plant from seed can be a great way to continue the lesson on nature’s cycle of life.

Located in Waldorf, MD, Adams Crossing offers affordable luxury apartments ranging from two to three bedrooms. Haven’t taken a tour of Adam’s Crossing yet? Schedule a tour with one of our marketing professionals to see why we’re a 2017 Top Rated apartment community through ApartmentRatings!