If you’ve been looking at indoor composting to feed your plants and reduce your waste output, but live in an apartment and aren’t excited about bringing worms indoors, you’ve come to the right place!
Below we breakdown the ins and outs of indoor composting, showing you how to transform all of your food waste (and more) into really clean, really simple, really nutritious compost that your plants or garden will love.
Not only do we breakdown exactly what you need to know to get started, walking you through the step-by-step process of indoor composting, but we also cover how to troubleshoot your compost situation so that you can stop things from going sideways in a hurry.
We also breakdown some really important tips and tricks you’ll want to keep in your back pocket to make the most of the compost we show you how to create.
Ready to jump right in?
Let’s get to it!
Apartment Composting Without Worms 101 – Clean and Simple Compost Indoors
But before we get right into the meat and potatoes of how to compost indoors without worms, it’s important to highlight a couple of the biggest benefits you get with this approach.
For starters by composting inside you don’t have to worry about tearing up chunks of your lawn or giving up portions of your outdoor living space (like your porch or patio) to big compost bins that – if we are honest – aren’t ever going to smell that great.
Secondly, you’re going to be able to maintain the perfect temperatures for composting efficiently indoors in a way that’s just not possible outside.
Where Mother Nature is in full control of the thermostat outdoors, you have a lot more control inside – and can maintain those temperatures necessary for efficient composting (between 40°F and 80°F) all year round.
Your compost is also going to be shielded from direct sunlight and heavy rain, kept out of the snow and the slush, and is generally going to be a whole lot less messy when it’s done indoors than when you have a pile outside.
At the end of the day, the advantages for indoor composting are off the charts!
Breaking Down the Apartment Composting Process
The first thing you are going to need to do when you commit to indoor composting is make sure that you have plenty of space for this kind of project.
You don’t need a lot of room (plenty of people have done quite well with “under the sink” compost setups indoors), but you are going to need some space dedicated solely to composting if you’re going to do this the right way.
The best spaces for this kind of project are out-of-the-way, dark and dry spaces.
A closet or basement really makes a lot of sense for your indoor apartment composting, but an attic, garage, or just a storage bin tucked away somewhere will do just as well.
After picking your space and clearing away you’re ready to move on to the next piece of the puzzle…
Your Compost Bin Pick Is Everything
The storage bin or bucket that you choose for your compost set up inside is going to make or break the whole project.
This setup needs to be clean, secure, and have a lid that closes to cut down on the smells compost will inevitably generate.
It also needs to be large enough to accommodate all of your composting materials with room to “breathe”, and it should be something that you can easily move around, maneuver, and turn your compost inside without much trouble.
Truth be told, 18-gallon storage containers are some of the best apartment-style compost containers you’re going to find anywhere.
They are perfect for beginners – big enough to offer a lot of compost room but not so big that they dominate a space completely – and they are generally pretty affordable, too.
The only thing you’re going to need to do to prep your new storage container (whatever one you choose) is to punch a couple of holes in the lid to allow for some oxygenation.
This is mission-critical to allow for the whole decomposition of the materials you are composting, and those tiny little soil microbes that are responsible for the heavy lifting that would have been left to worms won’t need much oxygen – but they are going to need some.
Dial In Your Brown and Green Matter
The next piece of the puzzle is getting your starter compost ratios right – and that means three parts “brown matter” for each part of “green matter”, at least until your compost really starts to rock and roll.
Brown matter is the composting community name for anything and everything that introduces a lot of extra carbon into your compost mixture.
We are talking about stuff like newspaper, cardboard, dead leaves – stuff like that.
Green matter, on the other hand, is what the composting community calls everything that adds nitrogen into your composting setup.
Green matter is usually (no surprise here) green – fruit and vegetable clippings, other kinds of food waste, pretty much anything else organic that wouldn’t necessarily fall under the “brown matter” category.
The temptation is always going to be there to want to throw pretty much anything and everything into your indoor compost pile, even right out of the gate.
But you have to make sure your ratios are dialed in (especially initially) or your composting process is going to slow down to a crawl if it doesn’t pause completely.
Then you’ll just have a mini landfill in your apartment!
Getting Started with Aerobic Composting
Aerobic composting – composting without worms – is going to require you to turn all of your green matter into the brown matter that you are working with every time you add it into the collection.
You’ll want to give your initial 3:1 mixture at least a week or two in order to sort of “set up shop” inside of your composting container.
Everything up by hand a couple of times each week, replacing the lid every time, and after two weeks or so you’re going to have a pretty good jump on your initial compost set up.
From here, you’ll want to add bits of green matter into the mix on a daily basis.
Feel free to dump stuff into the container and then use a trowel to mix-up everything together.
Try to keep that same 3:1 ratio we mentioned above going (adding extra shredded newspaper, for example, with the green matter you are tossing in) and you’ll be good to go.
Remember that the aerobic composting process is going to require access to oxygen to work in the first place.
If it’s starting to look like the air holes punched into the lid of your container aren’t enough to oxygenate your pile (at least initially) consider cracking the lid a little bit and allowing for even more airflow to get things rolling.
Troubleshooting Your Indoor Compost
The beautiful thing about compost is that it doesn’t require a lot of babysitting, but there are a couple of things you want to do to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible – especially if you’re having a hard go things at first.
Here are some of the most common issues you’re likely to deal with as a new indoor compost enthusiast and solutions to resolve them pretty quickly.
Too Much Moisture – If you have noticed that your compost pile is pretty moist (even downright wet) and not really breaking down the odds are pretty good you need to crank your brown matter ratio up a little more.
The biggest culprit for excess moisture is too much green matter in relation to the brown matter that you have. Add a handful of torn up newspaper and you should be good to go.
Too Much Food – If you have too much food in your compost it doesn’t look like it is breaking down fast enough it’s not a bad idea to either pause for a moment (no longer adding new green material until the already existing stuff breaks down) or to chop things up and then reintroduce them into the mixture.
The main goal here is to speed up the process without choking out the microbes and bacteria responsible for producing the compost in the first place.
Too Little Oxygen – A lack of oxygen and poor aeration in general will slide around the composting process in a big way.
You can either drill more holes into the lid of your composting container, crack the lid a little bit to allow more oxygen and airflow, or even leave the lid off completely for a day or two just to make sure that all kinds of oxygen gets into support the biome itself.
Tips and Tricks for Easy Composting Indoors – Without Worms!
Minimize Air Contact
Aside from making sure that your compost pile is getting plenty of oxygen in the early stages, you need to make sure that you minimize the amount of exposure your compost has to the air.
Nothing will cause fruit flies to multiply faster in your home than a regularly exposed compost pile.
Get out in front of this early by keeping a lid on things as much as possible.
Chop, Rip, and Tear Everything Up First
There’s always going to be a temptation to just sort of dump whatever you have left on your plate directly into your compost pile, leaving it whole to get devoured by the microbes and biome inside to turn it into compost – but that would be a mistake.
Chopping, ripping, or tearing everything into smaller chunks speeds up the process significantly. Smaller bits make for a more efficient biome, and you’ll get better and more consistent composting results because of it.
Dial-In the Moisture Levels
In an ideal environment you’ll want your compost to have the moisture level of a just barely damp dish sponge.
Any more moisture than that and you’ll stall the composting process completely, and any dryer than that and the composting process simply won’t ever begin!
Keep a bit of water in a spritz bottle close at hand to add water and moisture when necessary but also have shredded up newspaper nearby to dry things out if it gets too wet, too.
As you can see, there’s not a whole lot to getting and indoor compost setup up and running in your apartment – without having to add any worms and all.
Use the tips, tricks, and inside information throughout this guide to help you feel your way through the process and you’ll have no trouble whatsoever creating as much compost and plant food as you need from your daily scraps from here on out!