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Composting in Apartments

By Larraine Roulston:

If you live in an apartment or a condo, there is a variety of ways to compost kitchen food scraps and wilted flowers.

You can vermicompost by investing in a worm bin. Ontario’s Cathy Nesbitt of www.cathyscrawlycomposters.com offers Worm Chalets, while California’s Jerry Gach, www.thewormdude.com, is the manufacturer of The Worm Inn. To vermicompost, red wiggler worms transform food scraps and their bedding of shredded dampened paper into worm castings. While utilizing these little “angels of the earth” in a bin  approximately 21” x 15” (53 ml x 38 ml), you must chop up food and always place it under the bedding. When the worms have turned it all to castings (worm poo), it will be time to harvest (screen the castings from the worms) and then begin again. Worm castings, known as the richest form of compost, can be sprinkled on indoor plants and into balcony flower and herb containers.

compost main

Energetic senior and vermicomposting advocate Betty Price, who lives in a Toronto apartment, promotes her worm bin lifestyle by also accepting her neighbors’ unwanted veggie peelings. As Jerry Gach states, “Many multi-dwelling residents, who don’t have the facility for a compost pile, hate the thought of their food waste destined for landfill. They often give the finished compost away to their gardening friends. Avoiding waste is rewarding in itself.”

The bokashi composting method is technically a way of fermenting foods, using a special mix called Effective bokashi compostMicroorganisms. This system will take a greater amount of food including bones, meat, dairy, cooked foods and unwanted condiments that may have gone bad. It works anaerobically in an air-tight container. You can purchase bokashi flakes, or you make them yourself from a recipe on The Compostess blog.

Lobby your superintendent about getting on board with a municipal pilot program for curb-side compost pickup. It’s easy to keep all organics in your freezer to prevent any meat odors. When full, dump your container’s contents into your apartment’s designated collection bin.

If you have a friend with a backyard composter, your donations would be most appreciated.

The Tumbler, a standing compost unit that does not use worms, rotates  for faster decomposition. Designed for outdoor use, it could sit on a balcony with a large piece of cardboard underneath to absorb any dripping liquids. When too heavy to spin, empty the compost into a pail and give any extra to friends.

A small four-story condo building in Toronto’s east end sacrificed two outdoor parking spaces to install a Molok “Deep-Collection”    www.molok.com/main.php organics container for residents. This aesthetically pleasing system is suitable for townhouse complexes or retirement centers as well.

The book Compost City: Practical Composting Know-How for Small-Space Living by Rebecca Louie and the creator of the Compostess blog is both amusing and practical for the downtown core city folks who want to compost. Compost City also includes many do-it-yourself projects, details different composting techniques, and relates urban compost success stories.

The Kalamazoo based Flowerfield Press published its first edition of Worms Eat My Garbage by MaryAppelhof in 1982.  www.wormwoman.com. It continues to offer many resources on how to compost, ranging from children’s books to scientific publications, videos and worm bins.

In New York City there are compost drop-off points for those high-rise city dwellers wishing to turn their vegetable cuttings into compost. Check out your area for community gardens, composting demonstration sites, or depots that will accept your table scraps.  Another option New Yorkers have is that you can also pay to have your compost-ables collected. New Yorkers can sing . . .

Start spreading the soil you dug out today.food composting

I want to be a part of it, New York, New York.

If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere.

It’s up to you New York, New York!

Related Links:

www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Worm-Compost-System

http://ecowatch.com/2013/12/16/how-to-compost-apartment/

http://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/my-bokashi-compost-bucket-one-month-later.html

Larraine authors a children’s book series on composting at www.castlecompost.com

About Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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