Composting 101 for Apartment Dwellers Intended Audience: people who want to start composting.
There are myriad reasons why you may consider composting as your next DIY project. Maybe you want to help reduce greenhouse gas and waste. Or you could be taking advantage of the extra nutrients for your garden.
Whatever the reason for your journey into recycling waste, you want to learn how to do it as efficiently as possible. If you reside in an apartment, you may have limited space, but your options are anything but!
This guide will walk you through composting basics that work for apartment living. When it comes to organic waste, it’s all reusable!
1. Decide on Hot or Cold Composting
Composting is, in the simplest terms, letting organic material decompose naturally. But it’s not as basic as tossing your waste in a pile and walking away. That’s going to leave you with a disgusting, slimy mess.
Before you start setting up your composting bin, decide if you want to go with cold or hot composting. Both have pros and cons.
Cold vs. Hot Composting
Cold composting is the most straightforward form. It lets the waste do its thing without much help from you.
The con of this type of composting is that it’s the natural cycle, so it takes time to decompose. If you don’t have a lot of waste and aren’t in a hurry to reap the benefits, cold composting may be your preference.
Since everything organic will turn into nutrients in the cycle of life, you don’t have to monitor it. But be aware that your compost must reach a high enough temperature to ward off pathogens. You will probably end up with parasites and weeds in your final composted soil.
Cold piles also tend to get smelly and wet, so these are best left outside in an out-of-the-way bin.
Hot composting gives you the benefits of decomposition faster but requires more work.
With hot composting, there’s a formula behind your waste. You’ll have to keep your bin and debris in the right conditions, balancing air and water, and carbon and nitrogen.
But once you understand the cycles, you’ll have rich, nutrient-filled soil in anywhere from one month to a year. Since you’re controlling the temperature at a higher level, you won’t have to deal with the parasites and weeds, either.
2. Find a Spot
You don’t need ample space to compost. However, it is waste, and you have to plan for the side effects. You need to keep bugs and other pests away and reduce the likelihood of nasty smells. These are things you can mitigate with your composting tricks.
You need an inside collection point to house your compost and an outside dumping point to purge it. Your inside and outside bins can match, but don’t have to. They are usually stainless steel or plastic and found in home improvement stores.
While the bin is up to you, it should have a few essential characteristics. It needs to be easily washable and impermeable, so it doesn’t absorb smells. It should also have some sort of openings that allow for airflow.
The inside bin should be someplace easy to toss your scraps after you finish cooking and eating. The outside bin should be close enough to be able to dump your collected waste every few days.
3. Research the Colors
As you learn about composting, you’ll see a lot of info that talks about browns and greens. These colors refer to the way the materials decompose. Browns are carbon-based, and greens are nitrogen-based.
The ultimate goal is to get 30 parts carbon (brown) for every single part nitrogen (green). Too much carbon makes your waste take longer to decompose, and it will all be dry. With too much nitrogen, though, your compost becomes slimy and smelly.
It might sound complex at first, but it’s a science you’ll master quickly if you want to avoid the side effects!
4. Set Up Your System
Now that you know what type of composting you want (hot or cold), you can set up your system. If you decided on cold composting as your preferred technique, you have a lot of flexibility. Just keep in mind you want to avoid pests and nasty odors in your home when you set up your bins.
You have to adjust for temperature and aeration if you’re hot composting. The optimal temperature is between 135° and 160° Fahrenheit. In this range, pathogens cannot thrive. However, if you get above this temperature for too long, your waste may not decompose.
While your waste is composting, you may need to adjust for moisture and aeration as required. This could mean adding a few holes in your bin and adjusting how much water you put in the compost.
5. Dump Your Compost
Over time, you’ll end up with nutrient-rich soil as a result of your composting work. This may take several months or longer, depending on the temperature and how much waste you use.
When you have your soil, it’s time to use it to your advantage! Use it in your garden or as potting soil in your indoor plants. It’s organic dirt, so whatever you do, don’t waste it! Organic soil is expensive in the stores.
You’ve composted, dumped, and helped do your part to reduce environmental waste. Now you can start your composting cycle over again!
Not too long ago, composting would have been a hobby for farmers mostly. But today, it’s easy to reduce your carbon footprint and recycle your waste no matter where you live. These tips will guide you along your journey!
Also meet Caitlin Sinclair the Property Manager at Portside Ventura Harbor with five years of property management experience and many more in customer service.