any simple, non-smelly way to compost in the city?
i am living in a 6th floor apartment in Rome with a balcony, and Im looking for a way to compost my fruit and veggie scraps instead of trashing them. I HATE throwing the stuff away, especially non-edible pulp from my juicer, and organic scraps, and the stuff from my juicer is already pulverized nicely which makes it ideal for compost. HOWEVER, in the past when ive tried to do compost in a contained environment (i.e. apartment or apartment porch), even trying it with red wiggler worms, it just ends up really stinky, and given that i am sharing an apartment with 2 other women, it is important that if stuff is composting, it not be stinky, or a huge hassle. they are both open to us composting stuff, but as long as its not stinky and not an expensive system to set up. I just feel awful every time i chuck vegetable matter in the trash when i know its meant to be going back into the earth. when i lived in washington DC, i dumped all my scraps in someone else's garden, but here in the city theres just nowhere to put it.....
ANYONE? an easy, non-stinky method of composting?
thanks a million
Well I don't know... The Worm Bin composting is what I'm guessing you are referring to? I have a worm bin composting tub in my kitchen. It doesn't smell at all.. sometimes a tiny bit when I open the lid, but otherwise, odour free. That's why it's so great!
This is the only method I'm aware of for small spaces, indoors, city/apartment living etc.
Mine is a a big hard plastic tub, filled with newspaper scraps and some composted mulch stuff, and all the worms. I got it from a Compost Education Center, and they showed us how to use it best etc...
I wish I could offer some other idea, but really, I don't know about any other non-smelly ways. I love my worms!
Maybe your worm bin setup wasn't functioning ideally... Wish I could help though. I know EXACTLY what you mean about throwing away so much produce scraps... I was filling up 2/3 of my garbage with compostable materials.
Maybe there is a service in your city for composting? Where I live there is a company that will give you a tub to use, and they come pick it up every week or something, and once in awhile give you some rich soil for your plants if you want it, for an annual fee. Something to look into I guess.
kaybee, odor is sometimes caused by an imbalance of high nitrogen vs high carbon ingredients in the compost, or from it not being aerobic enough. most kitchen scraps are high nitrogen. to balance it out, you generally add a high carbon source such as sawdust (seems to work the best) or shredded up dried brown leaves.
I don't know if that helps or not... I know where to get sawdust in Venice but not in Rome. ;)
being-- thanks for the suggestion of the city collection,--i wish there was one, but no hope of that in Rome, italy, where im staying right now, as far as I can see. this city at times seems to function like its back in the dark ages... ;) yeah, i dont think my worm thing was set up right; mostly i think i had too many scraps and not enuff worms...and i didnt know about the newspaper scraps...i had dirt and peat moss and compost.... i dont think i could get worms or anything like that here, unfortunately
exurb--i dont know if i can get my hands on any sawdust. maybe i could get limestone dust though.... my question though, can i compost in a bin without worms, just keep piling the stuff in or what? it all seems such a confusing thing to undertake for what shouldnt even be a problem----argh. citylife....
yes you can do it without worms. I would do this though: get a scoop of the most natural soil you can find to innoculate it with some soil microorganisms/composting bacteria. I would say that is almost essential, to get composting instead of just rotting, then keep it aerated by shaking or stirring it up regularly. anaerobic = stinky, aerobic = not stinky. Balanced carbon/nitrogen = not stinky, unbalanced nitrogen/carbon will work but slower and stinkier.
There are alternatives instead of the sawdust, in my experience they're not quite as effective but probably better than nothing. Brown paper bags shredded? Cardboard? This list had corn cobs as Carbon, dryer lint and pinecones also as Carbon.
exurb--thanks--im going to see what i can do. any idea where i would get composting bacteria in Rome? hahaha....i dont even know how to ask for stamps at the postoffice... ahh ill see what i can do anyway OH WAIT! I JUST REALIZED SOMETHING--DO YOU MEAN IF WE FIND NATURAL SOIL IT WILL ALREADY HAVE COMPOSTING BACTERIA IN IT!!??? OR IS IT SOMETHIGN WE HAVE TO TRY TO GO BUY SOMEWHERE? anyway, i just hate throwing this stuff away. theres a huge huge huge area of fields that we can see from our apartment balcony and me and my roommates keep trying to figure out how to get to it ill see if i can get some dirt from there and maybe see if there are pinecones anywhere in the forested area around the fields....
i could get twigs probably, but thats not really the same as sawdust... twigs and sticks take forever to break down in my experience....
if i can find the stuff, 2 questions: can i just keep mixing scraps into the bin or do i have to stop at some point to let it finish itself? my point here isnt to rush the composting along in order to have compost as is the point of most people who are composting, so i dont care when it gets done; im just trying to keep from throwing stuff away. 2. should i poke holes in the bin? i did that before but it got stinkier outside. but it wasnt getting well mixed inside either.... and leave the top on or off?
yeah, that should do, and you don't have to order any bacteria.
DO YOU MEAN IF WE FIND NATURAL SOIL IT WILL ALREADY HAVE COMPOSTING BACTERIA IN IT!!???
BTW I assumed you were joking about the limestone dust, don't add that, it's BAD for composts.
I would have some aeration and maybe a few small holes, not too much, not none. You could also put a damp but not soaking newspaper on the top of your aerated pile. BTW on the subject of moisture in your compost vessel, you want not too much, not too little, they say like a squeezed out sponge. Not a wet one, not a dry one. Moist, not wet, not too dry.
2. should i poke holes in the bin? i did that before but it got stinkier outside. but it wasnt getting well mixed inside either.... and leave the top on or off?
I was thinking about that, you could experiment with either.
can i just keep mixing scraps into the bin or do i have to stop at some point to let it finish itself? my point here isnt to rush the composting along in order to have compost as is the point of most people who are composting, so i dont care when it gets done; im just trying to keep from throwing stuff away.
oops...nope wasnt joking about the limestone dust...i thought it made things more alkaline and would reduce the acidity. i stand corrected... we used to use it at home to reduce odor in things, namely usually the wetness/urine odor in the horses stalls...i thought it was like and odor neutralizer alkalinizer, and i thought we also used it in acidic soils to alkalinize or "sweeten" the soil.
ok, good that i dont have to figure out how to ask for "composting bacteria" in italian at the hardware store :) we'll give the dirt a try--
I'm very interested in worm bin compsoting. I do have lots of soil arond here as I am on acre but still always great information as sometimes I just may not want to get out. However, I can open door and toss.
I got about 25 huge and I mean huge bags of organic leaves from neighbor who was going to "pay" for the garbage man to put at the dump. I saw then, and now they rest in my yhard with permission.
So if we use a large plastic storage container make tiny holes maybe on the side?
I have great large worms in my garden now. Still finishing up my last batch of my own tomatoes from the garden.
Maybe we need a new topic or the message adding the word "worm bin composting." Great info. Thanks.
kayb, most composting resources will tell you to avoid it, that it will dramatically increase the stink of a compost pile.
limestone dust...i thought it made things more alkaline and would reduce the acidity.
carolg, there's TONS of resources on-line, just do a little googling, and you will get the low down. It's really easy. Composting also generally happens no matter what you do, you just get into refining the art by doing certain things. If you want really fast compost, with those leaves you can run them over with the lawnmower to chop them up finer, then if you layer or mix them with your "greens" (ie veggie scraps) from your kitchen you will have a "cookin' " pile.
I got some instruction from a "master composter", his set up puts it in a worm bin last, he turns it in a few different composting bins each week, then when it's almost done, he puts it in the worm pit to have them do a final "refining" to make it into gorgeous fine textured black crumbly soil.
If you are on land, unlike kaybee's roman apartment, you could just purchase a backyard composter, or improvise something. Worms are optional when composting outside as you will get natural "critters" in there to break things down. Composters that you buy generally don't have a bottom, so there is contact with the ground underneath.
Some townships offer subsidized composters for cheap (they save the cost of your garbage going to landfill), worth checking with your town/city.