Monday, March 21, 2011

Indoor Composting

I am very lucky to be a part of a moms group with many cool moms with different backgrounds.  One of the moms hosted a tutorial in her home on how to make an indoor compost, since in Alaska we can only compost outdoors for a small portion of the year.

The materials we used were:
 2 18 gallon plastic bins (dark in color because you don't want light getting through)
enough torn up cardboard to cover the bottom on the bin
about a gallon of basic potting soil
100 red worms, found in the composting section of the local feed store
enough newspaper torn into shreds to make a thick (3 inch-ish) layer 

We drilled holes in both bins on the bottom, upper sides, and ONE of the lids.  Then you place the undamaged lid on the floor to act as a barrier in case anything seaps out.  Luckily, this has not happened to us.  Then you put one of your bins down and layer the cardboard, then the soil and worms (mix and make sure soil is moist), and finally the newspaper.  We feed our worms once a week by pulling back the paper shreds and digging a hole to bury the plant matter we have collected during the week.  Since I save a lot of scraps for making vegetable stock, we are able to keep this all in a large plastic salad container.  It's important to cover everything with soil to avoid mold.


  1. Erin, does it smell? I like the idea, but we live in small quarters.

  2. I would have to say that between pregnancy super smell and the fact that the compost bin is next to our dining room table, I can honestly say it doesn't smell. I don't usually put onions or galic in because I use that for stock, and I make sure to completely cover everything with dirt.

  3. My friend bought one for close to two hundred dollars and I'm so jealous of it- hers doesn't smell at all and we never use proper precautions like burying the stuff, although she does usually chop up the scraps to be really small so they eat it more quickly. I live in a 550 sq ft apartment with my husband and two big dogs- i wonder if I could make a mini version of this thing? Do you then set the other bucket on top of this one? With the lid on there? I'm confused, there does the other bucket go? Are the inside one another? If so, do you try to get the hole so that they are not overlapping? Do you give your guys coffee grounds?

    How do you keep your dog out of it? My friends dog is too old to care, but my guys are rough and tumble 5-year-olds and we had to buy a special trash can so they couldn't get into it. I would REALLY like to do this though....

  4. Questions! Yikes. It was a short tutorial with lots of toddlers running around, but...

    from what I understand, which was not 100%, when you feel like you have a good composty soil in your first bin that is ready for the garden, you set up the second bin with everything but the worms and add some food. Then you place it on top of the first one (without the lid, so inside the first one) and put the lid on the second bin. The worms will crawl up through the next few days and should completely move to the area with the good food. I haven't gotten that far yet, so I'm not sure I completely understand.

    I am not drinking coffee right now, but I would if I did. I do limit my citrus rinds though, and with coffee and tea it's the same thing where in a small container like that you don't want too much acidic stuff .

    If you made a smaller version, the only problem I can see would be the worms' ability to keep up with what you gave them and space. My friend described it like when a plant gets rooted in a pot that is too small, you don't want too many worms in a small container.

    Hope that helps. I'm just a novice figuring it out for the first time too!

  5. Awesome! I'd really like to start this. Have been thinking about it for a while. Thanks for posting!