Indoor composting?

fieldofflowers(3 or 4a)October 27, 2013

Is having a compost system even possible in an apartment situation? And to do so without a smell?

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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

There are two choices in this situation: bokashi, which is a fermentation type of system. However it does not make actual compost, it sort of goes halfway and something has to be done with the product. You can read about it here or search the web.

The other is a worm bin, which can live under your sink or in a closet.

If properly managed neither one should smell.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 12:30PM
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fieldofflowers(3 or 4a)

I feel ashamed to be throwing out my indoor garden clippings and my kitchen scraps.
I tried purchasing something that I thought was it (was expensive enough) but it turned out to just be a collector to hold the scraps temporarily and a tiny one at that. The stuff got pretty ripe as I waited to find someone to drive over to the city compost heap. (No one wanted to and taking it on the bus was out of the question. lol!) I eventually gave the unit away to someone who might use it.

I like the idea of a worm bin but it sounded complicated to set up the last time I looked into it. I would be able to use the stuff when it is decomposed, right? The other doesn't sound likely.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 3:03PM
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beeman_gardener(5)

If you use a worm bin then it's not decomposing, as the worms eat the stuff you put in the bin.
Worm casts (poop) can be used as a soil amendment both inside and out.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 1:35PM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

See also: Vermicomposting Forum - GardenWeb "This forum is meant for the discussion of vermicomposting and vermiculture--the raising of earth worms for the creation of a healthy soil. "

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 3:38PM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

It's a big problem with apartment dwellers. Some day I hope to see organic waste bins at apartment complexes. Only a few places do it now.

I was thinking, if you have a freezer with any space in it, you could freeze your kitchen scraps in a plastic bag. When you have several of them, pull them all out and get them somewhere for composting all at once. No odors that way.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 3:18PM
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klem1

You have been given good advice and hopfuly you try the worms. If you don't go with worms,I have more to add about composting. Composting doesn't have to cause odors that prevent doing it on your outdoor private patio. If it has enough C and correct moisture level,there should be no problems. Granted it will be frozen much of the time in your area but freeze-thaw cycles are actualy benificial. The process will be slower but it will happen. I would suggest you use a free or inexpensive container rather than buying anything. Use your imagination to paint and/or decorate the container so it looks at home. And above all (I will be blasted for saying this) don't feel ashamed if you must trash the waste for now. Heroic efforts to recycle are not expected of you. The shame is on apartment owners who refuse to dedicate an area for tenants to recycle.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 12:49AM
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fieldofflowers(3 or 4a)

I don't have a patio or freezer space (it's large enough to store my frozen meat, vegetables and leftovers.) But anything beyond that no.

So gleaning what I can from the advice so far, composting is a no (sadly), but the worm bin is a good idea. I may even be able to set one up outside in the far end of the lawn as long as it is hidden along with the other garden supplies.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 8:30AM
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fieldofflowers(3 or 4a)

And I'd suspect as long as I don't get in trouble with the head gardener, the worm bin should be safe from thieves. (unless that would be their thing, but eh that'd be odd.) But given that we already had our first snowfall and shipping/finding worms might be a bad idea with freezing/sub freezing weather on the forecast, starting on the project may be a little late.

But I still like the idea of planning and setting up what I can to start the project in the spring.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 8:34AM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

If you're in a reasonably big town and have a Freecycle or Craigslist group (or both), you might be able to source worms by posting asking for them locally. People with worm bins are often quite generous in sharing a handful to get others started.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 12:43PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

I give out red wigglers any time freecyclers ask! I usually only have to dig in about a shovel full to give them 30 or so wormies!
I'm in zone 8ish, so mine keep going all year round! Nancy

    Bookmark   November 8, 2013 at 9:04PM
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robertz6

Worm composting or Vermicomposting, seems to me the only practical indoor composting. Fisherman, at least those who use worms, might be especially interested.

I tried Bokashi for a year, gave it up, did not seem to be worth the effort. Think of it as partly indoor composting only.

Worm composting can be done on the cheap, with several plastic rubbermaid containers. You have to keep track of it, and be aware of a few possible problems. But it does make the best compost.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 5:12PM
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dew80(z7 TX)

Here is a link to a composting in terracotta containers. This can be done in a small balcony or patio. It looks attractive and there is no smell.
http://www.elpasotwigs.com/garden/composting.html

Here is a link that might be useful: www.elpasotwigs.com

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 9:20PM
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JohnSuede(3a)

HI,
Im new but would like to chime in here. I compost indoors with worms. I have for several years now. I have a 55 gallon system running in my home at the moment, but started with rubber maid totes. It can be done in a closet, and if you follow the rules, at least initially, your bin will give off only a small earthy smell. Reminds me of patchouli or sandal wood incense. If your interested, but not too sure, check out mary appelhofs book 'worms eat my garbage' for a primer. Ill add a link as well for a video on how to get going.
Regards from Canada
John

Here is a link that might be useful: Setting Up a Basic Worm Bin

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 9:46PM
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Bob11

Hey, beginner here, I was just curious if the only way you can compost indoors is by using worm bins. I found an article online where a woman re-purposes a plastic Foldgers coffee bin and she used charcoal filters from the pet store to block out odors but she mentioned nothing about worms.
I throw a lot of green materials away as well as egg shells and wish I could be putting them to a better use. Also I have plenty of cardboard I could shred up for brown material. I am just not sure if the mixture will turn into compost?
Thanks in advance.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2014 at 3:12PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

You can compost indoors, but the key is to have drainage in the container. Without drainage it is just going be very messy and smelly. This is the drawback. Composting works best in large batches and you don't want foul drainage water on the floor. If I was composting indoors the basement or a room like porch that was not really inside or even a deck would be better. Outside means the water drains back into the ground.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2014 at 5:56PM
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FrancoiseFromAix

tropical thought,
isn't there a problem in your place with composts leaching ? My daughter lives in your area and I've tried to sweettalk her into composting, she pretends it's forbidden in her place because bacteria could transfer to drinkable water. I thought she was telling the truth because she's a real tree hugger and she tries to recycle, but now I wonder.

And she has a lot to compost, especially because she has 2 cats and uses compostable wood pellets for their litter.

As there's a garden where she could have a small compost bin. Worms unfortunately she finds disgusting.

When at her place last August, I threw some old veggies in the very little stream at the border of her garden, and when she saw them she had me pick them all :-( It took me about an hour because the pieces had scattered everywhere and it broke my heart to throw them in the bin.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2014 at 8:23AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I don't compost indoors because I have a garden, but I don't see why it would not be possible to compost indoors and without worms. They do not do such a great job. They eat most of the compost that you want to keep, giving you tiny amounts of compost when I want huge volumes of it.
With indoor composting its hard to do large amounts, but it's often done. You can buy a little kit. Try looking it up on a search engine. The compost leeching is not toxic and it drains away into the soil. I have been composting for over 20 years, but if someone does not like worms, they probably won't be into composting. One has to really enjoy doing it in order to keep it up. I would not leave food outside, there are a lot of raccoons that will come to your yard. Even if you are not worm composting, there are some worms that will appear if you compost.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2014 at 10:59AM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

Francoise, your daughter has good intentions but (and I mean this in the nicest way) she is full of compost! If done properly, composting will not harm the environment. It's good that people are more concerned about groundwater and drinking water than in the past, but sometimes they do not have the whole picture.

The leachate has a LOT of bacteria so it should be allowed to percolate into the soil.

Organic matter - whether compost, leachate, or uncomposted materials - should not be put in waterways. The bacteria in the water will consume the excess organic matter, using up oxygen, which can harm fish. This is a major reason we treat our sewage (besides harmful bacteria), and in fact, other organic matter like food waste can be just as harmful to the waterways, since the bacteria that digest organic matter do not really care where it comes from. So she was right to say not to throw stuff directly into the stream.

This is all easily addressed by keeping the compost pile or bin a few feet away from that little stream, on a soil surface where any leachate can soak into the soil, and everything will be fine.

I would also add that if you don't compost, and the food waste goes into the landfill, not only are those nutrients lost and the soil is not fed, but even a modern lined landfill can leak and pollute groundwater. Tell your daughter it is much better for the environment to properly compost organic matter than to landfill it. :-]

This post was edited by toxcrusadr on Wed, Dec 10, 14 at 14:59

    Bookmark   December 9, 2014 at 11:46AM
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