How to Make Compost at Home — A Complete Guide
Composting is an environment-friendly way to feed your plants while also helping the planet. It can prevent roughly 60% of your household waste from going to the landfills, rotting, and releasing harmful greenhouse gases.
But what if you’re an apartment-dweller where outdoor space comes at a premium?
Fortunately, anybody can make compost at home, provided they have the right bin (more about this later in the article), and wet waste and/or kitchen waste.
What follows is the basics, as well as some smart tips for making compost at home.
“That you need a backyard in order to make compost is a myth.”
The Most Effective Method of Indoor Composting
With different websites advocating different methods of composting, it is only natural to be confused. There are essentially two types of composting — aerobic and anaerobic. One of the key differences between aerobic and anaerobic composting is that the former requires the presence of oxygen, and vice-versa.
At Ceiba Green, we strongly believe that aerobic composting is the most reliable type of composting. The process generates just enough heat to be able to kill the bad bacteria and support the good ones. Besides, you needn’t worry about pests and odours.
Now, let’s understand how to go about aerobic composting even if you are short of space.
What Kind of Compost Bin do You Need?
Setting up a compost bin is the first step. While you can buy one off the internet, you can also prep one up at home.
Some of your best bets for compost bins are:
- Plastic buckets or containers
- Wooden crates or boxes
- HDPE Drums
- Earthern Pots
No matter what type of bin you choose, make sure that it has aeration holes. These will make the passage of oxygen possible, thus helping microbes to thrive. Moreover, the bin must be covered with a lid at all times. This will give it the protection it requires from rain and other external factors.
“A good compost bin is one that has aeration holes and a lid on top”
What Can You Put (and Not Put) in the Compost Pile?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions by newbies. Aerobic composting requires a combination of green and brown matter. Greens are high in nitrogen and moisture. They include waste such as kitchen scraps, houseplants, coffee grounds, and used tea leaves. On the other hand, carbon-rich browns include dry leaves, small twigs, hay, cocopeat, sawdust, and cardboard. However, we recommend using cardboard as a last resort since it can be recycled, thus generating better incomes for ragpickers.
A healthy compost pile is one that has more carbon than nitrogen. A higher ratio of browns enables faster breakdown of matter and keeps the pile airy and loose.
Avoid stashing meat, dairy, fats, and greases into your compost bin. These waste materials may attract rodents, as well as produce a stench.
How to Start a Compost Pile
Making compost at home requires 5 essentials: a compost bin, green waste, brown waste, microbes, and oxygen. Here’s the step-by-step process:
To start with, layer the bottom of the container with a bed of leaves, cardboard, or existing compost. Next, add in your kitchen waste. Then, cover the waste pile with a layer of brown waste. This will keep flies out and prevent any sort of stench from taking over your home. You can also cover your pile with a newspaper to make it more fly-proof. Repeat this process until your bin is full.
For best results, stir your pile to aerate it every once in a while. You can also provide your compost pile with microbes that will accelerate the composting process. For instance, you can add in a wee bit of buttermilk/curd, some forest soil, already existing compost, EM solution, or waste decomposers available in the market.
Where Should You Place the Compost Bin?
Placing your bin in the kitchen can make things really convenient. If you have space under the sink or the counter, you can place your compost bin there.
If your kitchen doesn’t have any room for the bin, you can place it elsewhere. Spaces under the table, balconies, and apartment rooftops also make for a good option.
Note: If you’re placing your bin in the open, be extra cautious during the monsoons. Make sure it has a tight lid so that rainwater doesn’t seep into it.
Smart Tips for Making Compost at Home
We believe that by now, you’re acquainted with the basics of composting at home. Over time, you’ll get better at it, and develop a natural flair for the art of composting. Until then, here are some smart tips to maintain a healthy indoor compost bin:
- Chop or break your waste into small parts to quicken the composting process.
- Mix the contents of your bin every now and then. This will increase microbial activity, and keep the pile aerated.
- If the pile seems too dry at any point, sprinkle it with some water until it resembles a wrung-out sponge.
- Add a handful or two of brown waste every time you add food scraps to your bin. This will prevent the pile from getting too soggy.
Note that while brown waste such as dry leaves is easily available and cheap, they have a slightly low moisture absorption capacity. Alternatives such as sawdust from timber mills and coco peat bricks are much more effective!
That’s pretty much it. Now, get to setting up your compost bin, while knowing that you’re helping our planet! Every contribution counts.
Key Takeaway: Making compost does not require backyards and large spaces. In fact, indoor composting is quite easy and very effective. Simply gather the right bin, organic waste, and dry leaves to get started!