Easy composting in small spaces
Composting is a fantastic way to divert food waste into something useful. It is a practice where food leftovers are combined with soil, paper and other organic material to create compost; a nutrient-rich soil that is used in gardening. It has become more popular over the years, thanks to the zero-waste movement and so more people wonder how they can compost at home. Given that a good portion of the population lives in condos, some are concerned that composting can cause bad smells at home and that it requires a lot of space. This is not the case, however, and composting can be quite easy, even in a 600 sq.ft. area. Below, we are listing simple steps towards composting in your condo:
Step 1: Pick a container that fits your space.
It is important that you do not expect to be able to compost every single scrap of food unless you can afford to allot some serious square footage. The point of composting is to divert as much as you can, not everything. The bin should be able to fit into your space, such as a corner or a cabinet. If you have pets or children, consider storing the bin inside a kitchen cabinet to avoid accidental turnover.
Step 2: Drill holes for air flow and drainage.
Drill holes on the lid, the sides and the bottom of the container for proper air flow and drainage. There is no specific size to the holes, but big enough for air flow and yet not too big that the soil will fall out. Put the container on a tray to allow excess water to drain. Excess water will be produced from fruits and veggies that are mostly composed of water. Although the soil will be able to absorb most of it, it is a good idea to have a back-up.
Step 3: Build your compost.
This is where your sandwich-making skills come into play. Place soil to the height of ¼ of your container but do not pack it too tightly. This is your base. Sprinkle in some ripped up newspaper bits on top, do not mix with soil. Spread scraps of food with more pieces of paper across the surface of your compost. Cover food scraps with more soil but do not mix.
What you can compost: fruit and vegetable scraps. Coffee grounds and tea. Eggshells. Newspaper, cardboard, leaves or dead plants.
What you cannot compost: dairy, cooked food, meat or fish, fat or oils, kitty litter, thick wood, acidic food such as citrus.
Step 4: Turn over contents weekly.
It takes about 4 weeks to fully compost. Every week give the compost a good mix and check on the progress. Are the food pieces decomposing? You know the decomposition is finished when no food pieces are visible. As long as your topsoil covers food adequately, there will be no smell and no flies will be attracted to your compost.
Generally, the system that we use goes like this: