Compost in an Apartment:
When you say the word "compost" most people picture a big ole pile of
yard waste, piled in the back yard, and in fact, for many people this
is what home composting is.
But for some people home composting is different--smaller, more
confined, more part of the human living space.
If you live in an apartment, or even a home with a small yard or no
yard, you need a way to compost which is quick, easy, and
compact. You need a yard-less compost solution.
Generally, yardless home composting can divide into 3 different options:
is an anaerobic composting technique developed in Japan by Dr.
Teruo Higa. Dr. Higa came up with a mixture of bacteria and
yeast which ferment garbage quickly. The species live in a
symbiotic relationship and work to pickle your kitchen waste.
The entire process takes place in a bucket that fits under your kitchen
When you use a Bokashi home composting system, it is easiest to buy a kit to get
started. You get a special bucket which helps the liquids
drain from the fermenting garbage. This liquid can be used
diluted in your garden; it contains millions of the organisms that are
found in healthy soil. You start by adding a sawdust mixture
that has been inoculated with the bacteria (called EM for Effective
Microorganisms). Then you alternate kitchen waste and
sawdust, pressing the mixture down as it fills the bucket until the
bucket is full.
As the bucket fills, you will notice that the food is
decomposing. It doesn't exactly disappear into
dirt. You may see the shapes of the food you added, but it
has started decomposing.
When the bucket is full, you have two choices. You can add
the compost directly into the garden, usually by burying it in a
shallow trench. Or you can let it sit another two weeks,
until the top layers of food have composted further. If you
opt on this technique, you may need a second bucket to alternate with.
- Relatively cheap
- You will need some space to
bury the Bokashi compost.
- If you live by a green
meter, you will need to find a
Bokashi bucket made from recycled plastic.
- Bokashi uses anaerobic
decomposition which produces
- Unless you want to make your
own inoculant, you will
need to buy more.
- You will need a source of
chips, torn newspapers, etc.
- You may need to cut your
kitchen waste into small
pieces for it to decompose easily.
has developed a composter which uses aerobic decomposition
for home composting. This is an entirely self-contained
machine that you plug into the wall. You add food scraps in
the top and 2 weeks later, you empty compost from the bottom
bucket. The machine manages the compost environment for
you--it turns the compost, aerates it and heats it to the right
temperature. Those bacteria have never had it so
good. They munch up your banana peels lickety split.
The whole box is designed to fit in a kitchen cabinet--perfect for home composting.
- Uses classic aerobic
- Very sleek, techno looking
- The compost is ready to be
put in a garden when it
comes out and does
not need to be buried.
- This is aerobic
- Because the NatureMill is
hot composting, you can add
meat, diary and
fish. You have a much broader range of kitchen waste.
- This uses
electricity! The NatureMill is
designed to use 5
kwh / month (they claim as much as a typical night light), but there is
still something that feels anti-eco about using a plug-in composter.
- You must position so it can
be plugged in.
- You may need to cut your
food into small pieces for
it to work.
- You still need a source of
carbon for your
compost. You can
buy it or collect it.
- The machine is a complex
collection of parts--who
knows what its green
Another option for home composting is to buy or make a worm box.
Instead of relying on bacteria to decompose your waste, you will let
worms do the work.
Worm boxes are available in many styles or it's relatively easy to make
one. You need a box with lots of holes for air circulation
and medium for the worms to live in--usually torn up
newspaper. You calculate how many worms you need for the
amount of garbage you produce, and add them in. As you add
garbage to the pile, the worms eat and multiply. In their
wake they leave rich, wonderful worm castings which are a wonderful
addition to any garden soil.
- Worms are great fun for kids
and they make a great
- The worm castings can't be
beat for garden fertilizer.
- Once you buy the worms and
the box, there is nothing
else you need to
buy. All you need is kitchen waste and shredded newspapers.
- No methane off-gassing.
- You can easily use recycled
plastic bins for your
- Worm boxes take some
management. It takes a
while to get the
right worm/garbage ratio. Too many worms and they
starve. Too few and they can't keep up with the garbage.
- Depending on how much
garbage you produce, you may
need a big
container(s). The food must be buried deeply to prevent fruit
flies and this can make for a big worm box.
- Harvesting the worm castings
is a small
project. There are
many techniques, from just throwing the whole thing in the garden,
buying more worms and starting over, to encouraging the worms to climb
in a big pile scooping them up and putting them in a new box.
In any case, you must plan on what to do when the worms need new digs.
- If the conditions in the box
are not stable, you may
escapees. Worms will crawl out of the box looking for more
food, less crowded surrounds, cooler surroundings or just to take a
- If you buy a worm bin, you
may want to find one of
Home composting is a little tricky but any of these systems provide a
great solution to yard-less composting. Pick the one which
most matches your situation, and start composting your kitchen waste.