What is Indoor Composting?

Josie Myers

Composting turns organic waste into a soil-like material. This process was almost always done entirely in a large bin or pile outdoors until recent years. The convenience of having indoor composting has grown in appeal as the general population has become more interested in a green lifestyle.

A compost bucket.
A compost bucket.

The term "compost" comes from "decompose," which is exactly what composting does to organic material. Bacteria and fungi or insects and worms break down the material to begin the decomposition. Heat is produced as the material breaks down. As heat increases, so does the speed of decomposition.

Red wiggler worms can be used for a type of indoor composting called vermicomposting.
Red wiggler worms can be used for a type of indoor composting called vermicomposting.

Air and moisture are necessary parts of composting. Aerobic composition is when decomposition happens with plenty of air. If air is not around, the decomposition is called anaerobic. This is the type of decomposition that makes a slimy smelly rot. This is ineffective composting in general, but is an even worse prospect when dealing with indoor composting.

It is equally important to have a good mixture of brown and green materials. Brown materials are carbon-rich, while green are nitrogen-rich. Green materials are things like lawn clippings and common kitchen scraps like vegetables. Brown materials are things like paper and straw. The combination of nitrogen and carbon helps the material break down in an even and rich way.

There are three basic types of kitchen compost bins. There are purchased bins that are temporary storage for materials intended to be moved outside. Next are fully composting bins that work entirely indoors. The third kind of indoor composting bin is homemade.

One popular product is a kitchen compost crock or container. These counter top crocks or under the sink containers can hold a few days worth of kitchen scraps. They are meant to be holding units for materials that will later go into an outdoor composting pile or bin. They are easy to clean and have charcoal filters to reduce the smell while awaiting transport outdoors.

Full indoor composting units are available for purchase in a variety of models. The less expensive bins are plastic containers that use natural ingredients like microbial inoculants or earthworms to decompose the materials while a carbon filter reduces smell. The most expensive models are electric and move the materials to aerate them while producing full compost within two weeks.

When creating your own indoor composting bin, perhaps the cleanest way is to use earthworms. This is called vermicomposting. Earthworms speed up the composting process and introduce the air necessary for a stink-free compost container. These little worms actually introduce additional nutrients into the compost from their digestive tracts. Red worms are the most recommended type.

The worms themselves are easy to maintain. They produce usable compost in about two to three months once they are up to speed and acclimated to their environment. They also reproduce very quickly, so within a year they have created enough worms to create a whole other bin or enough to give away to other compost enthusiasts. Fisherman also find the extra worms make excellent bait.

The bin can be made out of a large plastic or wooden container with holes drilled into the sides of the bin to aerate the scraps. The container should be a colored plastic and the lid should be kept on since worms don't respond well to light. The container must have damp leaves, newspapers, or other high carbon material to serve as bedding for the worms. They need to adjust to this material before introducing kitchen scraps.

After about a week, Kitchen scraps like vegetables, coffee grounds, tea bags, paper towels are placed under the bedding. No meat or other such leftovers can be given to the worms. A bin can be placed under the kitchen sink or larger ones are best kept in a basement or garage that holds a temperature between 40-80 degrees Fahrenheit (4.45-26.67 degrees Celsius).

Tea bags are often used in kitchen composting.
Tea bags are often used in kitchen composting.

Readers Also Love

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Forgot password?