How to Make Compost Indoors: A Guide for Home Composting

How to Make Compost Indoors: A Guide for Home Composting

In this day and age, most of us are aware of the benefits of composting. Composting provides an environmentally sound method of recycling food and yard waste while avoiding filling our landfills. When you think about composting, an outdoor bin is what likely comes to mind, but can you compost indoors? You betcha! Anyone, just about anywhere, can compost.

How to Compost in the Home

It is exciting, isn’t it? Now, let’s answer the question of how to compost at home. It’s actually quite easy. You need to select a composting container or bioreactor that is suitable for indoor composting. These containers are smaller than outdoor bins, so they must be designed to provide ideal conditions for aerobic heat production, which helps break down food waste. The bioreactor must have appropriate levels of moisture, heat retention, and airflow to facilitate the decomposition of organic waste when composting indoors.

Two basic types of bioreactors are suitable for indoor composting. A 20-gallon garbage can bioreactor can create finished compost within two to three months and can be used for indoor composting, as can a worm bin. A worm bin is ideal for composting indoors, particularly for apartment dwellers. Red worms and microorganisms are responsible for decomposition. The temperatures do not get as high as with other bioreactors, but the resulting worm castings can be used to fertilize apartment houseplants. Kids love to learn about vermicomposting, which is why it is often taught in schools. Vermicomposting supplies can be found online or at many garden centers.

Other Information about Making Compost Indoors

Now that you have a bioreactor or worm bin, you may be wondering what to put in it. All food scraps, except bones, meats, and oily fats, may go into the compost. No meaty items go in the compost due to the less-than-pleasant aroma and increased possibility of attracting rodents. Toss in your coffee grounds and tea bags, but no dairy for the same reason as meat.

Additionally, fading cut flowers or other residue from houseplants can go in the compost or worm bin. Keep the sizes of things you are tossing in the compost about the same size to facilitate the decomposing process. In other words, don’t toss in an entire acorn squash with mostly cucumber peels and coffee grounds, and then wonder why it isn’t breaking down. Turn the compost pile on occasion to keep it aerated, which will increase the rate at which it is breaking down. Turning the indoor compost will also reduce the chance of a putrid stench noticed by the neighbors in 2B, by promoting rapid decomposition. Okay, go to it, knowing you are doing your part to save the planet one orange rind at a time.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.