How to Compost for Indoor Gardening – Composting 101

How to Compost

How to compost at home is a question we hear a lot. Never buy fertilizer for your garden again by making and using your own compost at home!

If you want to have a vibrant and beautiful garden at home without spending a ton of money on plant fertilizer, you need to know how to compost. Composting is the process of breaking down organic solid waste into nutrient-dense fertilizer. A lot of people mistakenly believe that you can only compost if you have a large outdoor space in your garden. But, thanks to urban gardening techniques, you can still do this for your indoor garden even if you’re living in a small apartment or condominium!

In this article, we will tackle aerobic composting to give you an in-depth look into how you can start harnessing the benefits of this process from the comfort of your home.

Food to soil

Composting Basics – How to Compost at Home

Composting is a natural aerobic process where organic material is broken down into a dark substance that is packed with nutrients and minerals. With the help of heat, moisture, and oxygen, microorganisms break down large pieces of organic waste into small material that can be used as a source of nutrients for your indoor plants.

Composting has two products: solid (humus) and liquid (compost tea).

Humus (not to be confused with hummus) is the dark brown solid matter while compost tea is the liquid that is produced during the composting process. While most people just use the humus to add to their indoor gardens, you can also collect the tea and use it as liquid fertilizer.

Benefits of Composting at Home

There are many benefits that you can enjoy when you compost organic waste at home. But the biggest benefit is that you will greatly reduce the amount of organic waste that you will be throwing out. If you have ever wanted to convert to a more eco-friendly lifestyle, creating a small indoor composting bin at home is a great first step.

Another benefit that you will enjoy is that you will have a source of safe and organic fertilizer for your indoor garden! Compost is rich in nutrients and minerals that plants need to thrive and all indoor plants, whether ornamental or edible, will benefit from regular addition of compost. You’ll be amazed at how healthy and robust your plants will get when you start adding compost to them!

Finally, indoor composting can be done year-round and in a small space such as under the kitchen sink, out on a counter, or even inside a closet! As long as the space remains dark, dry, and aerated, you can make high-quality compost at home.

Food waste

How to Compost Using a Compost Bin

In order to make compost properly for your indoor garden, you will need a suitable compost bin. Here are some suggestions that will make excellent choices for indoor compost bins:

  • Plastic storage boxes – plastic storage boxes are great choices for indoor composting bins. They are easy to find and are cheap; you can usually find them in hardware stores. What’s more, they often come in a wide range of sizes so that you can find the size that is best suited for the space that you have! In general, you can use plastic storage boxes from 10 to 18 gallons to have a good amount of compost for your indoor garden. Another benefit of plastic storage buckets is that they are stackable. Plastic storage boxes also allow for easy turning of the organic material. This makes them the best choice for beginners.
  • Plastic buckets – aside from plastic storage boxes, you can also use plastic buckets for indoor composting. You can either buy them new, or recycle old plastic buckets that are large enough for composting. 5-gallon paint buckets work really well. Plastic buckets are also stackable. But it can be more difficult to turn the compost inside so all the material breaks down evenly.
  • Wooden boxes or crates – if you have old wooden boxes or crates, you can also use them as wooden compost bins. However, you will need to line the inside of the boxes with a plastic sheet to prevent the organic material from seeping into the wood.
  • Stylish Countertop Compost Bin – A popular indoor compost bin solution these days is a countertop compost bin. These are typically stylish, well-made bins that are as much a piece of decor as a functional compost bin.

Whichever compost bin type you choose, make sure that it has a lid or cover so that the composting process occurs properly. You will need to drill holes into the cover to ensure that there is proper oxygen flow inside your composting bin.

Preparing your Compost Bin

After you have chosen your compost bin, here is how to get it ready for composting:

  1. Drill a hole in the lid of the bin. Then, if you want to collect the compost tea, drill a hole at the bottom of the bin as well. Line the hole with a piece of cloth to prevent the solid compost from falling through. You can add a small catch pan under your bin to collect the compost tea.
  2. Place a 1-2-inch layer of shredded newspaper inside the bin.
  3. Place a layer of garden soil inside your bin, filling it to ¾ of the way up.
  4. Spray the soil with water to moisten the soil.
  5. Place the bin in a dark and dry place in your home.

Now you’re ready to start composting!

What can I Use for Composting? What Should I Avoid?

Here’s the thing with composting: you need to choose the right organic waste matter to add to your compost bins. While you can use most food scraps and other organic waste, there are some things you should avoid.

Items to Compost

Good Organic Matter for Composting

  • Raw fruit and vegetable peel/scraps
  • Coffee grounds
  • Grass clippings
  • Pulverized egg shells
  • Cardboard
  • Paper waste
  • Leaves, twigs, wood chips

Bad Organic Matter for Composting

  • Leftover cooked food
  • Dairy products
  • Bones
  • Meat and fat scraps
What not to Compost

As a rule of thumb, have an equal ratio of green and brown organic waste in your bin. Green organic waste refers to plant matter such as leaves and twigs, while brown organic waste refers to food scraps.

If you are in doubt whether a certain waste product can go into your composting bin, consider how the item breaks down. If it releases strong odors that can attract insect or rodent pests, it is probably not a good idea to add that item into your bin.

A Simple Guide: How to Compost at Home

Here is how to make your own compost at home in three steps:

  1. Chop up all your organic material into small pieces

While you can add organic whole waste into your composting bin, chopping it into small pieces allows the microorganisms in the soil to break down the material faster.

  1. Place the organic waste inside the bin

Consider using a high-quality, stylish countertop compost bin. Arrange the organic waste in a single layer on top of the soil. You can also partially bury the organic waste under the soil to help the decomposition process move along.

  1. Maintain your bin

Check your bin daily to ensure that the composting process is on track. Shake your bin to aerate the contents and add a spritz of water to ensure that the soil is moist. Checking your bin regularly also helps to prevent insects and rodents from infesting your bin.

Your compost will be ready to use in about three months. Once you are ready to harvest your compost, simply take a trowel and carefully remove the compost from the bin. The final substance should be dark, crumbly, and slightly moist. Any large pieces that have not decomposed completely should be placed back in the bin. The compost can now be added directly to your indoor garden!


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