How to Compost Without a Yard or Garden
Having a compost pile is a great way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich soil, but what if you don’t have a backyard or garden space for one? Don’t worry, composting is still possible even in small spaces! Here are some tips for how to compost without a yard or garden:
Indoor composting is a simple way to compost in an apartment or small home. Here are some methods to try:
Worm composting, also called vermicomposting, uses red wiggler worms to break down organic material into casting that can be used like compost. To vermicompost:
- Get a worm bin or build your own small one out of plastic storage containers. Drill holes in the lid for ventilation.
- Add bedding like shredded newspaper or dried leaves for the worms.
- Add vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds, crushed eggshells etc as worm food. Do not add meat, oils or dairy.
- Maintain proper moisture and harvest the castings every few months.
Worm composting has little odor and can be done year-round indoors!
Bokashi composting uses beneficial microorganisms to ferment organic waste. To bokashi compost:
- Get a special bokashi bin with a spigot at the bottom or use any airtight container like a bucket.
- Add bokashi bran inoculant to layer with food waste in the container.
- Press or weigh down the waste to remove air pockets.
- Drain the liquid from the spigot to use as a nutrient-rich fertilizer.
- Bury the fermented waste in soil to finish composting.
Bokashi composts faster than regular composting and doesn’t smell.
Small Compost Bins
For very small outdoor spaces like patios or balconies, try a small compost bin or tumbler. Look for ones around 1 cubic foot or less. Add scraps a little at a time and turn occasionally. The small batches will compost faster.
See if your city or neighborhood has a community compost program. Many urban areas now collect food scraps from residents to compost together at a centralized site. Benefits include:
- Convenient curbside pickup of compostables.
- No need to maintain your own compost pile.
- Produces usable compost for community gardens, parks, etc.
Check with your waste management provider to see if this is available in your area.
Public Compost Bins
Some neighborhoods have public compost drop-off bins at community gardens, farmers markets, or other central locations. Get to know your area to find spots to drop off food waste and contribute to community composting efforts.
Offsite Composting Services
Commercial composting services will pick up your organic waste for composting at an offsite facility. Costs vary but may be cheaper than regular trash pickup. Look for zero-waste haulers in your city.
- No need to compost at home.
- Reduces your overall waste footprint.
- Supports commercial composting.
Tips for Small Space Composting
To compost without much space, follow these key tips:
- Start small – Don’t overload your system. Add scraps slowly as you produce them.
- Freeze scraps – Stash excess material in the freezer until you have enough to compost.
- Shred or chop – Break materials down as small as possible to speed decomposition.
- Manage moisture – Compost needs a proper moisture balance. Don’t let it get too wet or dry out.
- Turn and aerate – Agitate the pile to introduce oxygen and facilitate breakdown.
- Harvest often – Remove finished compost regularly so the process keeps working.
With the right system and some diligence, you can compost successfully even without access to a backyard. Go ahead and reduce your waste, even in small spaces!