How-To GuidesSeries: Indoor Composting

Composting at home – Introduction (Part 1)

How to compost organic matter within the constraints of your home.

Kitchen scraps are a valuable, nutrient-rich resource that you an easily turn into black gold within the constraints of your apartment. In this article series I explain how to do this using worms and fermentation.

This article is the first of the series Indoor Composting, in which I share with you how to set up a composting system within the constraints of your apartment.

Closing cycles is one of our objectives in permaculture and composting your kitchen scraps (and other organic matter) can be a big step in meeting this objective, alongside growing your own food, reducing your (non-degradable) waste and switching to a compost toilet.

If you live in the city without access to a garden (and the classic compost pit) it might seem as though your best and only option is to entrust your kitchen scraps to the bio-waste container. This is a shame, as your kitchen scraps are a valuable, nutrient-rich resource that you can easily turn into true black gold.

In this article I will share with you how this is possible without much effort and within the constraints of your apartment, using worms and fermentation.

Indoor composting

Evidently, to be a feasible solution, a composting system that works indoors needs to meet a few requirements.  The requirements for designing such a composting system are:

  • It needs to be odorless, and
  • small enough to fit in your kitchen, while
  • being powerful enough to handle all (or most) of your kitchen scraps.
  • Ideally, it should also be easy enough for you to have fun with it!

Among the vast variety of ways that composting can be done (such as the classic cold compost pit, hot compost or sheet compost), only two types of compost I know of fulfill these requirements: vermicompost (worm compost) and bokashi compost.

Vermicompost and bokashi

In vermicomposting, composting worms are used to accelerate the decomposition of organic matter, while bokashi essentially means fermenting organic matter with the help of microorganisms.

Both vermicompost and bokashi are essentially odorless, small enough to fit in your kitchen and, while a small vermicompost can handle large amounts of organic matter, a bokashi can handle all those leftovers that a vermicompost can’t. So, to effectively compost all your kitchen scraps in your home, you ideally set up both a vermicompost and a bokashi compost.

However, if this is your first go at composting I would recommend starting with one system and gradually introducing the other one once you feel comfortable with the first. And in that case I would recommend going for vermicomposting for three reasons:

  1. A vermicomposting systems works continuously, while a bokashi compost needs “processing time”;
  2. Once it’s set up, the vermicompost requires less maintenance; and
  3. A vermicompost comes with very cool pets, the worms!

In the next parts of this little series we will take a closer look at both vermicompost and bokashi and I will show you for both systems how they work, how to build them and how set them up and maintain them.

In the next article of this mini series on composting at home, we will take a closer look at how vermicomposting works.

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