I really like the idea of reducing the amount of waste that my household sends to landfills so I'm interested in starting a compost bin. I live in a second-story one bedroom apartment with a decent sized balcony and I'm concerned if I can even run a successful compost bin from an apartment buidling. I don't know much about what I can compost or how to maintain the bin but I would love to learn so any and all suggestions or tips are welcome! I hope to use the compost to grow my own small herb garden on my balcony. (I love to cook and I'm constantly buying herbs and spices so I'm very excited about this.) My boyfriend is on board too he is just concerned about the smell. Do compost bins tend to smell bad? Thanks in advance!
I have 2 buckets so that I can use one while the other ferments. You will need access to soil for the compost to break down though. I use a couple of small wheely bins. I keep a couple of old ice-cream containers to keep the food-scraps in, I find if sealed properly I can wait 3 days before putting them in the bucket.
Another tip is to put scraps in the bucket in the morning so you don't have to deal with flies because if these get into the bucket your compost will spoil and you'll get maggots- you really need anaerobic conditions for it to work.
I bought my buckets from the gumtree website so they were both second hand. You can buy the mix at an enviro shop for $15.00-$20.00 for a 3kg bag and instead of buying a bokashi masher, I use and old potato masher. If you don't have one I'm sure you can pick up an old one at a second hand store (Goodwill).
I also have a worm farm, mine is a VermiHut. They are a really good size for units/apartments. If you do choose to purchase a worm farm do not purchase a black one since black absorbs heat, your worms will fry in the warmer months.
I hope I've helped, if you have more questions do not hesitate to ask me.
Thanks for the tip about the black worm farm. I live in Florida and I was actually looking at a black one and I almost bought it. Are the Bokashi bins the containers that hold the scraps or does the composting actually take place in those bins? Also, I read something about kitchen composting but I'm more interested in composting with the worms. Is that something I can do on my shady balcony?
Thank you so much! Your post is really giving me a good head start!
Your welcome. The bokashi ferments the scraps but you need to bury it in soil so it can break down. I think the kitchen composter is the same thing. You can most definitely keep your worm farm on a shady balcony it's better for the worms anyway. You want to keep them cool in the warmer months- an old wet towel and those plastic re-usable ice blocks that are used to keep lunches fresh are ideal too. Since you're in Florida I doubt your Winters are cold so your worms should be fine, they don't like rain though. You can put most food scraps in worm farms even stuff like hair, finger/toe nail clippings, tea bags, coffee grounds and egg shells (which are very good for worm farms). Scraps which you should never put in worm farms are processed foods, sweet things (cakes,cookies, etc), citrus fruits, onions, shallots, garlic, meat, dairy, cheeses and pineapple (toxic to worms and will kill them). I mainly use my worm farm, the things that cannot go in the worm farm goes in the bokashi bucket. I only put my rubbish bin out once a month now and that's mainly full of foil wrappers which breaks down in landfill anyway. My son's school recycles plastic wrap and other soft plastics which gets turned into school furniture- I don't feel guilty about buying things in plastic now!!! Everything else goes in the recycling bin.
Wow. This is perfect. Thank you so much! I looked at both the VermiHuts and the Bokashi bins and I like that you use both. I'm so excited to get started. You have NO IDEA how much this helped! Thanks for helping me get started.
No problems. Good luck with it all. I have some information sheets that I am happy to email you as well. I learned what I know through google and by joining gardening forums, some Facebook forums may help too. I've met a lot of helpful people that way as well. Not sure if you know anyone with worm farms but if you do, ask them if you can have some worms rather than buy them (sorry, can't help you there as I'm in Australia). Many people with established worm farms are more than happy to give some away as their worm farms may be over full with worms. Just remember though that only certain types of worms can be used as some garden varieties just are not suitable and will not thrive- so don't go digging up gardens ;)
I found someone local with a work farm. (I still had to buy them but the were relatively cheap.) I got 500 red wigglers which seems like way too many but based on what I found on Google is about right for a 2-person family. Does that sound right?
Yeah, that sounds right. Worms eat half their weight, 500 worms weigh about a cup so they would eat 1/2 a cup of waste each day Therefore they would eat roughly 3 1/2 cups of waste each week. You would probably have more than 3 1/2 cups of scraps to feed them each week so you should be ok.
Okay great. I'll let you know how it goes! I would love any information you have as well. I'll message you my email address if you want? I'm not sure if you can send attachments with the messages on this site but if so that's fine too. I know I've said this a million times, but you have no idea how much you've helped me! It was hard for me to get started based on what I Googled just because there is so much information and I got a little overwhelmed. Every site was a little different in how it went about explaining the process. You cleared up so much for me though, so thank you. Love to Austrailia!