Compost Heaven

How to Make Indoor Compost

From Banana Peel to Humus Entirely Inside your Kitchen

Making compost solely from kitchen waste is difficult.

It's wet; it's green; it accumulates at all the wrong times.

Typically, people turn to worm boxes for their indoor compost.  Maybe they try Bokashi.  But there is a third, entirely automated system designed to make completely indoor compost--the NatureMill composters.

NatureMill Indoor ComposterNatureMill makes several composters that are designed to address the difficulties in composting kitchen waste.  They are completely self contained systems which maintain the perfect environment for naturally occurring bacteria to decompose your garbage.  They use aerobic decomposition, so they mix and aerate the compost to keep the bacteria happy.  They regulate the temperature.  They maintain the correct wetness.  And they do all this without smell.

First, let's look at the pro's and con's of the NatureMill composter.

NatureMill Composter Pros:

  • Maintains proper temperature.
  • Mixes the indoor compost mixture for maximum aeration.
  • Maintains proper wetness (within reason--if you only add very dry material, it has no way to add moisture.  However, if you add very wet kitchen waste, the extra water will drain out.)
  • Your composting is indoors--no more running to the compost bin in the middle of the winter.
  • It works all year round--no more stinking piles in the spring after the thaw.
  • No worms in the house.
  • Very convenient.  Just plug it in, put a couple of scoops of the soil outside your house, and you're ready to go.
  • Accepts pet waste. Take care of 2 composting problems in one!

NatureMill Composter Cons:

  • It uses electricity.  While the amount is very low--5 kwh / month (which in Wisconsin in the winter of 2009 is about $2.00/month), if you are very eco-conscious, this may not be for you.
  • You will need to chop your indoor compost waste into small pieces--around 4" in size for it to be most effective.  This may not be a huge drawback but it does involve a little fussing.
  • "Brown Matter":  You can add almost any indoor compost, but you do have to have a little awareness on the best environment for your bacteria friends.  You must add "brown" matter--they recommend:
    • --sawdust, wood shavings (untreated, unpainted wood)
    • --bread, rice, pasta, grains
    • --nuts, nut shells, straw
    • --dry flowers, small yard leaves
    • --coffee grounds, paper filters
    • If you have these items, there is no problem.

      But in my house, these items are much scarcer than my "green" kitchen waste.  Office paper, junk mail and newspapers are not recommended so this may be a problem.  You can buy sawdust pellets from NatureMill, or you could use pellets from a pellet stove, straw from a gardening supply house, or even clean wood chips from you gerbil cage, but all these solutions involve buying "brown" compost matter.

      You only add 1 cup sawdust pellets for every 5 cups kitchen waste, but you still must supply that much.  Not very green to the purist, but totally OK to the practical soul.

  • The NatureMill system does have a motor which runs for several minutes every 4 hours.  While it runs, you may hear "whirring and snapping sounds".  After that you will only hear the hum of the air pump.  It is very quiet but you still may hear some noise.
  • The NatureMill is designed to have no smell.  It uses an air pump to keep the compost aerated and the air passes through a carbon filter to remove odor.  However, no composting system is entirely without odor.  The filter must be replace every 4-5 years for about $8.00 US.
  • This is a pricey system--it's convenient (just plug and play), but you pay for it.

NatureMill makes two models.

NatureMill ComposterThe NatureMill Plus does everything an average family needs.  It makes compost within 2 weeks, It has all the main features.  It comes with a 1 year warranty.

The NatureMill Pro is the fancy model and would be good for large families or composting a lot of food scraps.  It has stainless steel internal components for heavy use, a vacation energy saving mode, and a foot petal for easy opening.  It has a 3 year warranty.  There are six cool colors to choose from.

Like any composting system, making indoor compost can take a while to get the feel for it.  Expect a trial and error time.

Learn more about the NatureMil Composter:

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