As the world continues to change and individuals everywhere are becoming more aware and educated on environmental issues, many are turning to composting. To break it down, composting is a simple and effective way to reduce your food waste and reduce greenhouse gases. Almost anything that comes from the ground is capable of being composted—including any fruit or vegetable, and even grains. You don’t need a large backyard to get the job done either. If done properly, being eco-friendly in the comfort of your own apartment isn’t as difficult as you may think. Methods today make it possible for people to compost in even the smallest of spaces, without the added mess and odor. This does include using worms, but we promise, it isn’t as bad (or slimy) as you think.
The proper bin
When it comes to composting, one of the most important steps you can make is selecting the appropriate bin for the job. You can choose a bin based on how much food you’ll be composting, but generally, it’s important to make sure you choose something wide with plenty of surface area. More surface area means more food! Once you’ve selected your bin, you want to make sure you drill holes in the cover for ventilation purposes.
What kind of bedding to use
In order to for composting in your apartment to be the most efficient, it’s important to use bedding to keep your worms happy, healthy and eating! Adding just a little bit of bedding on a daily basis will keep worms at their most productive, and will, in turn, mean that you can compost food in a timely manner! There are plenty of different options you can use for bedding, even providing the option that you can combine different beddings for the best of both worlds. Whatever bedding you choose to use, you want to make sure that it can retain moisture, allow for oxygen flow and be soft enough that it won’t harm the worms. Here are some options:
- Shredded newspaper
- Shredded brown cardboard
- Wood chips
Before adding these into the bottom of your bin, be sure your materials are damp and moist for the worms to live comfortably. In general, place 4-6 inches of bedding at the bottom of your bin before adding dry bedding on top of it to keep your worms insulated.
When you’re ready to add your worms into your bin, it’s important to consider just how many you’ll need. The appropriate worm for this type of composting is the red wriggler. This species is known to eat roughly half its weight every day (if only we could do that, right?). So, a good calculation to start, is to determine roughly how much food waste you produce each day. If your average daily food waste is 1 pound, you will need 2 pounds of worms. If it’s 2 pounds, you will need 4 pounds of worms, and so on. You can purchase these worms online or at a local garden center or nursery. An important thing to keep in mind is to keep your composting bin out of direct sunlight. Store your compost bin in a corner, on the kitchen counter, under the sink… you get the idea.
Food and harvesting
The best thing about reg wriggler worms is they are easy to make happy. Provide them with foods such as fruits, veggies and grains. If you want to throw in something with texture, you can add in items such as eggshells or coffee grains. Just be wary of how much you’re throwing in there, since these items will take longer to decompose. Here’s a quick list of commonly composted items to get you started:
- Fruit and vegetable scraps
- Coffee grounds
- Tea bags
- Cooked rice/pasta
- Avocado pits
- Stale chips/crumbs
Try to refrain from feeding your worms too much at once to keep any odors at bay and keep them away from too much meat, dairy or fatty foods. Our tip? Cut your food into smaller pieces so the worms can eat more quickly! After a few months, you can begin your harvest. Simply move the bedding to the side and begin scooping out the material. You will know when this soil is ready once its a rich, dark-brown color. If there’s still any noticeable food particles you can see, be sure to give your compost more time. Once you’ve got a product you’re happy with, begin applying it to your plants, we promise they will thank you!
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