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Composting for House and Apartment Dwellers Alike

The weather in Atlanta felt like Spring this weekend, which got me thinking about our Spring garden and, of course, our compost bin. Composting is a fabulous, cheap source of fertile soil. On top of that, keeping a compost bin prevents your food scraps from heading to the landfill where they break down and produce methane, a more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2.

While some communities, like San Francisco, offer curbside composting, unfortunately however, most do not. Luckily, it’s really easy to get your own bin going! Whether you’re living in a house or an apartment, there are great composting solutions out there. Here’s a roundup of some options, so you can have your compost ready in time to get that Spring garden going!

Composting Basics

No matter what scale bin you’ve got, there are a few basic things to keep in mind. Ideally, you’ll fill your bin with plant matter, like vegetable leavings from cooking, and you can toss in egg shells, too. Most bins don’t do well if you mix in meat or dairy products or anything fatty. That stuff tends to turn rancid, which is no good. Your typical compost bin needs to be turned or stirred from time to time to help everything break down. With those basics in mind, let’s take a look at some different bins for houses and apartments!

Back Yard Composting

If you have a house with a back yard, you might think about keeping your bin outside. We have a glass bowl in the kitchen to collect food scraps which we just dump into the bin every few days. If you want to keep it simple, you can do an outdoor bin using a few stakes surrounded with chicken wire.

Wiki How has another DIY compost bin option. For a basic bin, you’ll want to layer “brown matter,” like dried leaves, over the food scraps to help things break down. If you’re good about turning it, you should have usable compost within 2-3 months!

Back yard composting can be as costly or inexpensive as you want it to be. If you’ve got some spare cash, check out this awesome Tumbler compost bin over at Clean Air Gardening! Instead of using a shovel or pitchfork to turn your bin, you just spin the crank. It also collects “compost tea” at the bottom, which is great for adding nutrients to soil.

Apartment Composting

Apartment dwellers, don’t despair! Composting might seem like something you can’t do without an outdoor space to store a bin, but that’s not true at all. If you’re willing to give up a little bit of space under the sink or on top of the fridge, you too can keep your food scraps out of the landfill! Even if you don’t have plants that need the compost, you can dump that good, nutrient-rich dirt outside to give some neighborhood greenery a boost!

You might look into a bokashi bin, for your composting needs. Bokashi is a mixture of “effective microorganisms,” (EM) usually in some sort of medium like wheat bran. After you add your food scraps to your bokashi bin, you sprinkle the mixture on top. The EM helps break down the food scraps. If managed properly, the bin will have no smell at all! Most bokashi bins also collect compost tea, which you can drain out of a spout on the bottom and use as fertilizer.

If bokashi isn’t your speed, you might give vermi-composting a shot! Barb Finnin from Freshtopia explains how to get this setup going:

You can find the red wigglers online. Bait shops sometimes carry them for fishing, too. The worms tend to multiply, so after a while, you can help your friends start their own worm bins with your excess wigglers!

Do you already have a compost bin in your house or apartment? Please share your composting experiences!

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