Let’s talk rubbish! Composting is the most natural and environmentally friendly way of recycling organic waste, such as food scraps. It’s a great way to achieve zero waste living and reduce your carbon footprint. Contrary to general belief, you don’t need a garden or an outdoor space to start composting. You can easily turn your organic kitchen waste into nutrient-rich compost for your houseplants using indoor compost bins. Indoor composting is super easy, affordable and can be done by anyone, regardless of the available space. Bear with us while we talk rubbish to learn how to set up a successful indoor composting system and what to use your indoor compost for.
Why indoor composting?
Nearly half of the kitchen waste in our landfills can be composted to save resources, reduce carbon footprint and improve soil quality. You may be surprised to learn that organic food and garden waste release a greenhouse gas called methane while sitting in landfills, which is more harmful than carbon dioxide when it comes to global warming. So, instead of dumping our organic waste into landfills, we can recycle it via indoor composting to turn it into nutrient-rich plant food. By engaging in indoor composting, you will not only be reducing your carbon footprint but also helping your indoor plants to thrive. Win-win!
Indoor composting 101: how to make compost at home?
Setting up an indoor compost bin is quick, easy and affordable. It only needs a small amount of monitoring to achieve great results. Follow our step-by-step instructions to set up your indoor compost bin and start your home composting journey! In the end, you’ll be one step closer to making your home more sustainable and eco-friendly.
1 – Find an indoor composting location
The ideal location for a fast, successful composting is somewhere dark, dry and warm, such as a warm corner of a basement, under-the-sink or a kitchen closet. If you have enough space in your kitchen, then this would be the best choice for your indoor compost bin, as you can transfer your food scraps directly to your bin.
2 – Select your compost bin
From readily available kitchen compost bins to recycled wooden crates, there are many great container options for indoor composting. Lidded plastic storage containers are an affordable, easy to find option with various sizes available. However, if you’re not a fan of plastic products due to environmental reasons, then you can opt for metal rubbish cans or recycled wooden crates instead.
Make sure to pick a container that can hold more than your weekly volume of kitchen waste and that fits your chosen indoor space. If you’re lucky with space, then 10-15 gallon (45-68 litre) compost bins are perfect for households of two to four. If you’re struggling with space or want to avoid any unpleasant smells, then a 5 gallons (22 litres) container could be a better option.
3 – Let the air circulate
Oxygen is key to successful composting, so you need to ensure good air circulation for your compost bin. The best way to do this is to drill a few airing holes in equal distance to each other on the top and bottom of your container. If you’re using a recycled wooden crate, then cover the top with a big enough piece of wood or a fabric such as canvas, and then open up a few airing holes. Place your indoor compost bin on a tray to collect the liquid draining from the container – this liquid called ‘compost tea’ is a natural by-product of the composting process and extremely nutritious for your plants. If you prefer to buy a purpose-made compost bin, then you can skip this step, as they usually come with all the necessary features.
4 – Fill your compost bin
Now that you have a compost bin, you’re ready to fill it with all the necessary ingredients to start your indoor composting process. For successful composting, you need both brown matter and green matter. So let’s look at them both in more detail before we move on.
Carbon-based materials such as dead leaves, cardboard, paper towels, dry cereal, stale bread and shredded newspaper are considered brown matter, whose purpose is to be a food source for the organisms living in the soil. They also add more bulk into your compost pile and help to filter the air.
Nitrogen-based materials such as food waste, coffee grounds, tea leaves, dead flowers and eggshells are grouped under the name of green matter and help to heat up your compost pile. They help to keep the necessary moisture to compost the waste.
The brown-to-green ratio for successful indoor composting
A general rule of thumb is to fill the empty container with two parts of brown matter and one part of green matter. First, fill the container with brown matter and add a cup of garden soil, evenly sprinkled on the brown matter. Then continue with the compost-safe green matter to complete your compost pile. Avoid adding cooked food, dairy, meat, bones or fat as they are highly likely to produce unpleasant smells and attract pests. If your pile is too soggy, add more brown matter, or if it’s not heating up or dry, add more green matter. Once you’re more used to the composting process, you will know what to add and when to keep your compost healthy.
If you’re not sure what you can add to your compost bin, there’s this awesome website called Compost This, which you can check to see what you can compost or not. Or you can always consult Google gods!
Add worms to speed up the indoor composting process
In addition to green and brown matter, you can also add worms into your compost pile to speed up the natural process. This process called vermicomposting is not necessary and completely optional. If you were to decide to add worms, then make sure to cover your airing holes using mesh fabric and strong glue to prevent worms from escaping.
5 – Turn your compost pile frequently
As mentioned above, oxygen is an important component of the composting process, and just drilling holes is not enough to provide enough airflow. To increase the air circulation, make sure to turn the mixture at least once a week using a hand trowel. That way, the organic material from the bottom can cover the new additions and increase the microbial action.
What to use your indoor composting for?
You’ve put all your hard work into composting, patiently waited for a few months and managed to get your compost. Now, what to do? The resulting compost soil is extremely rich in nutrients and perfect for your indoor plants or garden. Here are a few amazing things you can do with your compost!
- Use it as a natural fertiliser in your garden to feed your plants
- Sprinkle it directly over the potting soil of your houseplants and watch your indoor garden thrive
- Gift it to a neighbour or a friend with a garden
- Donate it to a public garden or a school and help them reduce the use of chemical fertilisers
- Add a small amount of your compost to your new composting pile to begin your next composting cycle with a boost
- Use the resulting liquid for spraying onto your plants
How long does composting take?
You should be able to have usable compost in one to six months, depending on the size of your indoor compost bin and when you started the process. On average, indoor composting takes two to four months.
When to start the indoor composting process?
The composting process requires warmth, therefore early spring is an ideal time to start your composting journey. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t compost during the winter months. Even though cold weather can slow down the composting process, you can continue to add food scraps into your pile to keep your process going. Try to keep your indoor compost bin away from a window to protect from draught, especially during winter.
Whether you’re new to composting or not, we would love to hear your thoughts! If you have any tips for successful composting or just want to share your thoughts, leave us a comment below. Happy composting!