If you have ever tried to grow a plant of any kind, you may already be aware of the near super power of compost.
This unique manmade substance is a nutrient-packed form of soil that can provide plants with concentrated forms of the nitrogen and carbon that they need to survive, as well as plenty of other good components that aid in the growing process. Made mostly of fruit, vegetable, egg, nut and paper scraps that you no longer need, as well as organic materials like leaves and twigs, this soil is created in weeks or months through the decomposition process and aided by microorganisms and earthworms.
The process of making compost can be fairly easy if you live in a house or single family home with a lawn, as you can have plenty of room to make it without disturbing others. However, what if you want to make compost while you are living in an apartment? There are many reasons to do so, and you can accomplish such a task by following some specific instructions. This article will guide you through the small-space composting process and teach you what you need to know in order to not inconvenience anyone.
How can compost benefit someone in an apartment?
Living in an apartment has many positive and negative aspects to it. The space that you are responsible for maintaining is generally much smaller than if you were in a house. That also means that you may not always have enough room to do what you want. While you may not have a backyard of your own while living in an apartment complex, that does not mean that you cannot use the resources that you do have to their fullest potential.
The reasons for making compost are many and apply to different people in different situations. You might consider making compost in your apartment if:
- You have a community garden that you contribute to. Even if you live in an apartment, you may have access to a community garden that could benefit you with some nice produce. Many garden managers love to use compost in order to help grow their crops.
- You have a houseplant that could use some better nutrients. Is your hydrangea looking a little sad due to a lack of good soil in your apartment? Compost can be an excellent solution to this problem! While you may not need all of the compost that you make for your houseplants, a little bit goes a long way.
- You have a friend with a garden or lawn that needs some work. If you do not wish to use the compost for yourself, you may know someone else who would be glad to take it off of your hands. Additionally, farmers markets and grocery stores sometimes collect compost for their own or public use. That way, the compost that you make will be useful for someone else.
- You simply want to lighten your trash load each week and help the environment. If you have nothing better to do than scatter your compost in the grass or forest, you are still having a positive impact on the environment. All of your food scraps and organic waste would normally be going to sit in a landfill, so putting it back into the environment is taking a big step to reduce your carbon footprint.
The Importance of Knowing Your Apartment’s Rules
Before you go jumping straight into composting out of your apartment, you should be aware of the rules and regulations established by your apartment complex. After all, you are on your landlord’s property, and often around lots of other people.
Admittedly, it can sometimes be hard to find a good place to set up your pile, unless you choose to do it in your own unit. But breaking the rules in your complex about composting could lead to fines, losing your security deposit or even eviction.
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One common misconception is that compost smells bad. While this could be the case depending on what you put into it, properly made compost should have a mild earthy smell, or else none at all. This means that if your landlord allows it, making a nice, covered compost bin in or out of your apartment should not be a huge problem. If it is approved by your landlord, you may even be able to open your compost bin to other residents who would like to contribute to it. As long as everyone knows the rules of composting, getting help from others can help your pile grow much more quickly.
How to Make Compost While Living in an Apartment
As previously mentioned, you can choose whether or not to keep your compost pile inside or outside of your apartment. But finding the best kind of container for your needs can be difficult and can seriously impact where you can set up. There are plenty of different kinds of composting containers that you might use, which you can buy or make yourself. Purchasing a composting bin can be a much easier solution to your space problems, as there are excellent, small bins on the market that can allow you to simply throw in what you’d like, and get fresh soil in no time.
However, you can also save a lot of money by going with a more DIY approach. The most important aspect to composting is that you put in the right ingredients, give the pile access to air and a little water and give the pile the right kinds of organisms to speed up your process. Micro-organisms will do most of the job for you, but you can really get your compost process moving by adding in earthworms or stirring in special Bokashi flakes that will help with the decomposition process. Overall, making compost takes time, and you may not expect to have fully-processed product until after a month or two. Then, when your batch is ready and no longer hot from the decomposition process, you can use it for any of your plant growing needs.
Additional Composting Factors to Consider
When you are composting, it is always important to be aware of what should and should not be put into your pile. However, when you are making a pile that is staying in a small space such as an apartment unit, this is even more important in order to prevent any bad smells. You should avoid putting the following in your compost pile:
- Meat or bones of any kind
- Dairy products
- Plastics, metals or other non-biodegradable materials
- Diseased plants or plants that have been sprayed with a pesticide
- Pet waste, or any other kinds of bodily waste
Getting the process of composting in a small space right can be tricky, but it is well worth it to boost your plants and have a positive impact on the environment.
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By Larissa Shelton –