Composting is a way to feed your plants while reducing waste in your home or apartment and in local landfills. But did you know that you can get the same benefits of an outdoor compost pile or bin—without sacrificing precious lawn or patio space—through indoor composting?Composting recycles organic material and allows for the natural processes that decompose food, yard waste and other organics to create a nutrient-rich, natural fertilizer. Compost piles heat up as microorganisms break down leaves and kitchen scraps in the presence of oxygen, giving them a second life as to fertilize gardens. Indoor composting is also advantageous for small-space dwellers since you can store a compost bin in any dark and dry space indoors, such as the basement, a closet, and under the sink cabinet.
Your best bets for compost bins are lidded plastic storage containers, garbage cans (plastic or metal), or wooden crates (topped with a wooden board cut to fit the opening). Whichever style you choose, consider size carefully: The bin should comfortably fit inside the space where you intend to store it and yet be large enough to house more than the weekly volume of food scraps you plan to compost. Generally, 18-gallon containers are a good size for households with two to four members, while smaller households with minimal food waste can get by with 5- to 10-gallon containers.
What to Put in a Compost Bin—and When
Altogether, your compost bin will contain a combination of three parts brown matter (carbon-based materials such as shredded newspaper, torn cardboard, and dead leaves) and one part green matter (the nitrogen-based materials you toss out, such as food waste and plant clippings). So, to start preparing your indoor composting collection, fill the empty bin of choice nearly three-quarters of the way with dampened brown matter. Gently hand-toss the damp bedding in the bin, then evenly sprinkle a cup of garden soil over it.
Tips for Successful Indoor Composting
Take these steps to maintain a healthy indoor compost bin.
• Don’t leave waste exposed to air in the compost bin—this will attract fruit flies. If you can’t bury the waste completely in soil or a worm layer, cover the exposed scraps with additional soil or brown matter.
• Chop or tear all kitchen scraps prior to composting. Soil microbes and/or worms can break down smaller scraps more quickly, thus speeding up the decomposition process.
• Keep a watering can and a bag full of shredded newspaper or dead leaves in close proximity to the compost bin for quick refills of water or brown matter when the compost becomes too dry or too moist.