Are you interested in urban composting, but think you don’t have enough space to do it the right way?
Here, we will learn about converting your food waste and paper waste into highly nutritious soil to feed both your indoor and outdoor plants.
Read on to learn how you can copy this exact method to achieve fantastic results!
If you’re not familiar with how composting works, don’t worry- we’ll go over the two main methods of composting your scraps effectively.
The first method is cold composting: you can do this with any organic matter- by piling them up (such as trimmings, food scraps, etc.) after a few months, they will start turning into soil.
Hot composting- what is it?
Once you’ve tried out cold composting, you can move on to hot composting. You might have already experienced this if you’ve ever seen a steaming pile of wood chips, for example- that’s hot composting.
Hot composting uses thermophilic bacteria. When organic material gets hot, the bacteria start breaking down rapidly. Hot compost piles can reach temps of up to 160F- so we’re not kidding when we say it’s “cooking”!
Traditional hot composting requires a lot of raw material- vast piles of it. It would take the average home gardener forever to accumulate enough clippings to hot compost. The fix?
Meet the compost tumbler. It has two insulated compartments- meaning that any heat created by the bacteria gets trapped inside, speeding up the process and requiring less matter and less time.
How does it work?
To successfully turn your food scraps and trimmings into healthy compost, you need a balance of 4 elements:
- Air: when you tumble the compost pile, you get some excellent airflow. This composter has some vents on the side to optimize the airflow.
- Carbon: shredded paper, for example
- Nitrogen: Organic material such as food scraps, coffee grounds, plant trimmings, etc.
- Water: Make sure the water is dechlorinated with drops or a simple carbon hose water filter!
The trick is balancing these four elements. You’ll need about a 2:1 ratio of carbon to nitrogen. While this ratio is pretty variable, you’ll soon learn to adjust this by feel.
When I started hot composting using shredded paper, I was adding way too much carbon, and the compost stopped heating up, which is a surefire way to check to see if it’s composting correctly. If these four elements aren’t balanced, you’ll end up with a slimy substance that’ll rot and smells a little funky.
After some trial and error, you’ll get a feel for your compost needs, and adjust the ratios accordingly.
In the imbalance I mentioned above, all I did was add water to restore the balance. The whole idea is to create a rich soil that you can add back into your garden, putting in all those healthy fungi, bacteria, and nutrition into your base soil.
I also sprinkle in some of our Earth Dust into the compost, a great source of nutrients, minerals, and water-activated bacteria that kick this compost up a notch. (Bonus, the bag itself is also compostable as paper waste!)
I recommend purchasing this compost tumbler instead of plastic tumblers. It will allow you to achieve that hot composting you want if you are trying to turn massive amounts of waste into healthy soil quickly.
Vermicomposting, a.k.a. the worm bin
Thee hot compost’s goal is to process as much waste as possible without needing a ton of space. This following composting method creates the best possible nutrients available, which are -you guessed it- worm castings or worm poop.
By layering food over the paper in a worm bin, the worms will eat their way up through the layers. All the food scraps that you put into the container goes through a worm’s body, where naturally-occurring bacteria help the worm digest the food scraps.
What’s left are highly nutritious worm castings, which are organic food sources for your plants. Worm castings improve soil structure as well as increasing nutrient intake. To your plants, they are the caviar of compost- nutrient-dense and full of life.
How does it work?
This worm bin comes with a removable flap, under which I put paper grocery bags to keep the moisture in and create another layer. Having a thermometer handy will make sure that you’re keeping the temperature below 90F. (The Urban Worm Bag comes with a thermometer).
In the summer, the strategy is not to add too many greens all at once- that will elevate f your compost’s temperature. Also, make sure you add lots of bedding, so the living worms have a place to escape to if temperatures get too warm.
During winter (and depending on your climate), do the opposite- add lots of nitrogen to get the temperature up.
Like humans, worms have favorites when it comes to different foods. My experience has been that they don’t love citrus or onions but tend to love plant roots, avocados, and squash.
If you only have small amounts of waste to process, this is the way to go. It’s fun, dynamic, and the result (the worm castings) is unparalleled. Your plants will love it.
Urban composting is straightforward, helps process food and paper waste while creating the highest nutrition possible to your plants.
Comment below if you have any questions or want to be contacted by one of our experts; we’re here to help!