How to Compost Without a Backyard

How to Compost Without a Backyard

Composting is a great way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich soil, even if you don’t have access to a backyard. With a little creativity, you can compost in small spaces like apartments, balconies, patios, and community gardens. Here’s how to compost without a backyard:

Choose the Right Composting Method

The composting method you choose depends on the space you have available:

Vermicomposting

Vermicomposting uses worms to break down food scraps into nutrient-rich worm castings. It’s very compact and can be done indoors or on patios and balconies. You’ll need a worm bin, bedding, worms, and food scraps. The worms feed on scraps and produce castings that can be used to fertilize plants.

Pros:
– Compact and odorless
– Can be done year-round
– Produces high-quality fertilizer

Cons:
– Regular maintenance required
– Can attract flies if overfed

Bokashi Composting

Bokashi composting involves fermenting food scraps in an airtight bucket using bokashi bran. The fermented scraps can then be buried or added to a regular compost pile. It takes up very little space and can be done indoors.

Pros:
– Very compact
– No odor
– Can compost cooked food, meat, and dairy

Cons:
– Requires purchasing bokashi bran
– Two-step method

Small Compost Bins

You can compost in a small plastic or wooden compost bin on a patio or balcony. Look for a bin with at least a 3 cubic foot (85 L) capacity. Turn and aerate the compost regularly for proper decomposition.

Pros:
– Simple and inexpensive
– Fairly compact

Cons:
– Requires frequent maintenance
– Slow compost production
– Can attract pests

Choose a Good Location

Pick a spot that gets some sun to help heat up the compost. Avoid windy areas that can dry it out. For vermicomposting, choose a shady, temperate spot indoors or outside.

Ideal locations include:

  • Patio or balcony
  • Community garden plot
  • Near your kitchen for food scrap collection
  • Indoors or in a shed/garage for worm composting

Start Composting

Follow these tips to start composting without a backyard:

Gather Supplies

  • Compost bin or worm bin
  • Bedding like shredded paper, dried leaves, straw, or coco coir for worms
  • Aeration tool like a pitchfork or compost aerator
  • Bokashi bran if bokashi composting

Add Brown and Green Materials

Create optimal conditions for decomposition by adding carbon-rich browns and nitrogen-rich greens.

Browns include dried leaves, straw, sawdust, shredded paper.

Greens include fruit and veggie scraps, coffee grounds and filters, crushed eggshells.

Maintain Proper Moisture

The compost should have 50-60% moisture, similar to a wrung-out sponge. Add water if it gets too dry.

Aerate Regularly

Turn or stir the compost pile or bin weekly to aerate. This provides oxygen for the microbes.

Harvest Compost

In 6-12 months you’ll have finished compost or worm castings to use.

Troubleshooting Common Problems

| Problem | Solution |
|-|-|
|Odor|Turn and aerate compost, add browns, reduce greens|
|Pests |Cover compost, secure lids, place rodent mesh underneath |
|Slow decomposition|Chop materials, aerate, monitor moisture, turn more often|

Uses for Finished Compost

  • Fertilize houseplants and garden beds
  • Create compost tea to boost plants
  • Top potted plants and container gardens
  • Mix into potting soil for new plants
  • Mulch around trees, shrubs and plants

So with a little planning, anyone can compost, even without access to a backyard! Composting helps reduce waste and creates free fertilizer for plants, making it a very rewarding practice for any gardener.