How to make compost in your apartment
What can you feed it? Like most compost bins, you can feed it most food scraps, including fruit peels, leftovers and vegetables. Worms also love newspaper, egg cartons and junk mail. Worms can eat truly compostable diapers. Worms can also eat meat and dairy products, but they aren’t recommended until you have a flourishing worm community (as they can start to smell). Also, worms are a bit finicky and usually won’t eat onions or garlic, and some hard candy and salty junk foods will be rejected. Papaya and pineapple contain natural digestive enzymes and can kill your worms. Also, your egg shells need to be blended quite fine (worms love the grit) or they will remain in tact for a long time.
How long does it take? A healthy worm bin can be fast! It usually takes just a few months (or less) to really get your bin going, and then every couple of months or so you can harvest your “black gold,” as the worm castings are called by enthusiasts. Worms can generally eat their weight in food waste and can potentially eat more than double their own weight each day!
Value You can make a simple worm bin yourself or buy a more complicated one. Thus you can spend anywhere from nothing to about $300. To get started, you will want a pound of red wigglers; there are websites where you can order them as well as local stores that will supply. Or ask a friend to give you some! They multiply fast! Worms can be a bit moody and if you, for instance, leave them outside all winter when you live in Chicago, they will petulantly die on you. It can also be a bad idea to leave them in your basement and forget to check on them for six months — they don’t like that one bit either.
Sexy score Very high. It’s fast, shapely and moody — what’s not to like?
Electric assist composting & The Red Dragon:
Description These bins are small, enclosed appliances that use a bit of electricity to add heat and automatically turn the organic waste in the bin. This makes composting fast, nearly odourless and easy. I have a Red Dragon and mine is a cute red machine about the size of a bar fridge.
What can you feed it? You can feed these composters just about anything. Mine takes all the usual kitchen scraps plus the often forbidden items like meat, dairy and greasy foods. As well, the Red Dragon is supposedly able to handle dog waste. I haven’t tried that yet, but I have been feeding it a small amount of compostable diapers that have only been wetted (no poop). So far, so good. These bins don’t do well with things that might stop-up the motor like branches, avocado pits or strings.
How long does it take? 24 hours or less. I’m not kidding. It is like a miracle. It is the first time I have actually used a composter and could truly look forward to the final results (rich fertilizer).
Value At $300 to $900, electric assist compost bins are relatively expensive compared to other compost bins, but cheap compared to other appliances. I have followed these bins from a distance for the last few years and I had heard a lot of complaints; they just never seemed to live up to their promise. The Red Dragon seems to be the exception. At the higher end of the price spectrum, it makes me believe that you get what you pay for. These machines are probably over-engineered to our advantage. They are the easiest composting a person could ever do and they create fertilizer so fast as to seem miraculous. A system that truly works indoors — mine is in our kitchen nook, right next to the table.
Sexy score Very high. It is little, red, and hot!
The majority of photos are courtesy of Shutterstock, including: compost writing by Tanis Saucier, compost pile by jadimages, compost bin by kropic1, and worms by schankz.