In our blog about backyard composting you can read all ins & outs on how to get started with outdoor composting. For those who have to work with less space or do not have the luxury of a garden or outdoor space and still want to start composting; you’re on the right spot! In this blog, we’ll throw light upon indoor composting and we will suit you up with a DIY on how to make your own composting bin. Let’s take your skills to the next level!
Indoor composting is also known as vermicomposting, worm composting or urban composting. It is a convenient counterpart of outdoor composting. The shining star in this process is mister worm, he takes care of the dirty work. You keep the worms in a special worm bin and they’re on a delicious diet: your kitchen waste. They digest and refine nutrients to their most usable form: worm-humus, also referred to as worm castings.
This form of composting is ideal when you’re living in the city without a decent outer space as it doesn’t require that much space. Your balcony, attic, garage, basement, shed or even the kitchen cabinet will do.
So vermicompost is made in smaller quantities than outdoor compost, simply because you’re working with a smaller place. As a quid quo pro, it contains way more nutrients than other forms of compost and it is packed with microorganisms. So you don’t have to use so much of it as it is very concentrated. It will make plants grow faster and produces higher crop yields. Next to that it can hold 2-3 times as much water and nutrients as normal compost.
Next to general benefits of composting, indoor composting has some extra gains. It is convenient and odor-free, at least, when you do it right. You don’t have to aerate the pile, as your little workers will do it for you by digging tunnels in the heap. Another big advantage is that indoor composting can be done year-round. Unlike outdoor composting, in wintertime, the process of the compost heap in your backyard slows down.
You can either buy a worm composting bin or make one yourself. Creating your own bin is in-expensive and way more satisfactory if you’re asking me.
You start by putting jute or a thin blanket on the bottom. This layer will prevent that food scraps clog the drainage holes. On top of that you put damp shredded newspapers and/or cardboard, coco coir, old leaves or a mix of it. Keep it moist at all times, worms like that. You can add older compost on this layer, but it is not a must. Note: don’t use garden soil as bedding! Then spread a few food scraps in a thin layer on top and in the bedding.
You don’t have to feed them every day, they won’t bark, don’t shed hair or bite people and if you do it right, they do not smell. They will do the dirty work for you. And you only have to clean their bin every three to six months. Sounds like the perfect flat mate!
Which worms do the best job? It is not the ordinary rain worm. The worms that are cut out for some serious indoor composting are red wigglers (also known as redworms or Eisenia Foetida) or Lubricous Rubelles (also known as manure worms)
How many worms do you need? This depends among other things on how many waste you have. This article gives you some nice guidelines.
A small but important detail to keep in mind is that worms are masters when it comes to multiplying. When they’re happy and healthy, they can double the populations every 90 days. So, I’d recommend starting small.
A location in or near the kitchen is convenient of course. So, the kitchen cabinet or a closet is nice. Keep in mind that worms do not really like light and noise. Don’t put the bin in a sunny spot either, it’s too bright and too hot. Worms thrive at temperatures between 13-25 degrees, temperatures must be below 30 degrees anyway.
Composting worms are hungry creatures. The red wiggler for example, eats almost its weight in garbage every day! Start slowly and give bacteria the time to form. When you cut the things into little pieces before you add it, they will break down scrap quicker. Which is good, because it minimizes odor. Bury the food in the bedding and check after a week if they need a new load. Don’t overfeed the little critters, because that might start reeking.
Worms love coffee ground, left-over fruit, vegetables, fruit rinds, tea bags (remove synthetic bags, strings and tags), egg shells, grass clippings etc. They also prefer a moist environment and cannot do their jobs when it is too dry. Moisten it by spraying a bit of water or add moist food scraps, like cucumber or melon. For more inspiration, you can check the list in our blog about backyard composting.
Be aware that you’re working with living creatures, so there are some no go’s! Meat, oil, fat, fish, dairy, overcooked food, citrus and banana peels, onions and garlic scraps will harm your worms, so you’d better take it off their diet.
Next to overfeeding, there are some other things that can cause a nasty odor. Fruit tends to smell a little stronger than leafy vegetables for example. It is also very important to ventilate enough. Although vermicompost tends to be a wetter than outdoor compost, you should keep it from getting too wet. Using too many wet matter causes a smell and your little workers might even die. When your heap is too wet, you can add untreated peat moss.
Adding too much peat moss can cause acidity, add crushed egg shells or shredded newspaper to neutralize.
When you’re bothered by fruit flies you can add some wood shaving. And when you add new scraps, bury it in the bedding. Cleaning out some rotten food also will help.
When you provide your little friends with what they need and sing songs to them from time to time, they will provide you with a super charged fertilizer within a few months. Vermicompost is wetter than normal compost, so you will have to let it dry before you’re going to mix it with your soil or into the full ground.
Another nice extra of indoor composting is that it provides you with a by-product: compost tea! The liquid that leaks out of the pile is very concentrated and contains a lot of nutrients. When you mix it with water (for one part leachate you add about 10 parts water) you have your own homemade compost-tea!