Think you can’t compost since you live in the suburbs? Don’t be silly! Anyone can compost anywhere. You don’t have to live on a great big lot of land with a big compost pile to reap the benefits of composting. Here are 3 easy ways to start suburban composting.
How do you compost in the suburbs?
Composting in the suburbs is pretty much done the same way as composting on a farm, but on a much smaller scale. Some compost methods can even be done in the house!
The really interesting thing about composting is that there are few hard and fast rules. All living things eventually break down. Leave organic matter in a compost pile long enough and it will eventually turn to compost.
That being said, composting on a small scale does require you to follow those few hard and fast rules.
Mostly to keep smells and pests away.
When you compost in the suburbs or inside your house or apartment, it is much more likely that you or your neighbors will be negatively affected by compost gone wrong. Even though there aren’t many hard and fast rules, you will want to make sure to compost in a way that keeps odors and pests away.
How do you keep odors and pests away?
Here are common reasons a compost bin gets stinky and attracts pests:
- Compost is too wet
- There is too much green material
- Compost pile is not getting enough air
- Pile is not layered correctly
- Oil, fat, meat or dairy were added to pile
In order to avoid this, you simply need to monitor the amount of green and brown material you add to your bin. You must keep a ratio of 3:1 green material to brown material. To learn more about that ratio and how to troubleshoot smells and pests, go here.
3 Easy Ways to Compost in the Suburbs
Now that you know how to troubleshoot smells and pests in your compost, it’s time to learn about the 3 easiest ways to achieve your suburban compost dreams.
Even though we personally send a large amount of our food waste to a commercial scale compost site, we still compost in our suburban backyard. There is something almost magical about being able to create your own dirt from food scraps even in the suburbs.
Here are the 3 tried and true methods that we love for suburban composting.
We love worm farming for the sheer ease. The worms do most of the work which means you do very little other than buy the worms and feed them with food scraps.
Worm farms, also known as vermiculture composting, are great for small spaces like apartments and suburban houses. They take up very little space, have no odor when done correctly, and produce worm castings and soil quickly.
A small worm bin can easily be stored under a sink or in a closet. In fact, you can make your own worm bin out of 5 gallon buckets. This makes it easy to move from place to place until you find a spot that works for you.
Compost tumblers are perfect for small yards because they take up very little space and provide a large amount of compost in return.
Most tumblers are critter proof, allow for aeration, and are easy to turn. Tumblers even work fine on an indoor porch as long as they get enough sun.
We’ve used several different brands of tumblers over the years, and definitely have our favorites. Click the link below to see which ones we prefer.
This is last on our list because this is a big price to pay for something so small. Even so, plenty of our customers use these and love them. Electric composting is a great way to recycle food scraps indoors when you have zero space for worm composting or compost tumblers.
What do you do with finished compost in the suburbs?
Finished compost can be a little daunting if you’ve never used it before. Before you get worried about having too much compost, you should know that compost is only about 10% of the original weight of the waste you add to your bin.
This means that if you have a 50 gallon tumbler and you fill it all up, you will only end up with about 5 gallons worth of compost. Of course, this is just a crude example, but you get the idea.
Basically, you won’t ever have too much compost. If you do, give it to a friend or a neighbor that loves to garden. Even if you don’t love to garden, you can easily toss some onto your lawn or around trees and bushes.
Here are some basic tips for what to do with finished compost:
- Sprinkle a little bit directly on the top soil of established house plants.
- Put an inch of compost into your garden soil to amend the soil.
- Add a handful to the base of houseplants when repotting.
- Make your own potting soil by mixing 1 part compost to 2 parts sand.
- Enhance potting soil by adding 1 part compost to 2 parts potting soil.
- Treat bald spots in turf by adding 1 inch of compost and reseeding.
- Add a layer of compost over the top inch of a newly planted tree or shrub.
Get more tips for finished compost here.
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