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How to make compost in your apartment

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What can you feed it? These bins can handle most kitchen scraps. Pits, pineapple stems and even eggshells take a really long time (years) to break down. Similarly, most yard waste will fill the bin too quickly without the right balance. Meat, grease and dairy products aren’t recommended either. I would stretch the limits and put in some dairy and grease, but not meat. My bins also liked leaves. Lots of leaves make these bins happy.

How long does it take? These are faster than backyard piles, but in my experience still nearly glacially slow. Granted, the more attention you give it (turning, adding the right mix of elements, etc.), the hotter it will get and the faster it will work. I plan for a year to get a backyard compost bin really working and then it takes about a year to harvest your first results.  With my last backyard bin, I harvested almost half a bin worth of compost three  times in four years (and it had lots of recognizable items like eggshells and pits).   

Value These bins can had pretty inexpensively, around $100 or far less if you live in a city that subsidizes them (many do). They are easy and you can immediately see a reduction in your household garbage bag size. You won’t get a lot of usable compost material, but they are easy and cheap and need little maintenance. If you have the space, get one!

Sexy score  Low. Big, bulky, and slow—it’s like a dim-witted second cousin. Nice to have around, but zero bling.

Compost tumbler:

Description: These bins are a type of backyard closed bin but are often held off the ground. They often look like a plastic barrel held on a stand. And they roll! (So you don’t have to stir — stirring is a pain.) They are supposed to significantly speed up the composting process, but this hasn’t happened yet for us.

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What can you feed it? The same as above.

How long does it take? We are still in our first year and aren’t doing much to hurry along the process, but so far nothing has happened.  

Value These bins are more expensive than a regular closed bin — ours cost about $300. If you have a yard, I would skip it or make one yourself. The great benefit of this system is that it does fine outside and on a patio. That is where we use ours — on our backyard condo patio. Like the other systems, they work best if regularly fed leaves or other nitrogen.

Sexy score Medium low. It’s big, bulky and slow like the bins above, but it rolls. Rolling gives it a bit more pizzazz.

 

NOTE: How to make your backyard compost pile or bin work faster? Find that perfect balance of brown material (high in carbon) and green material (high in nitrogen), turn it a lot, monitor the moisture and temperature, and try compost accelerator.


Vermicompost: Worm bins

 

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