How to - Indoor Compost?

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TopHatFox
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How to - Indoor Compost?

Post by TopHatFox »

I've been researching indoor compost for the past few months. Some of my experiments have gone horribly wrong! :D

I've ended up finding compostable plastic bags, placing them in a lidded garbage bin, placing kitchen scraps in the bag, and--once the bin is full--trekking the rotten bag to the composting dumpster at my college. The college then ships the compost over to a processing facility.

-----------------------------------------

Have you ever fully composted indoors or on a balcony? I'd trying to NOT use worms, since I'd then have to take care of worms.

Also, have you found any plentiful sources of free dry material year round? So far I have dry leaves in fall and part of winter, and maybe newspapers the rest of the year...

subgard
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Re: How to - Indoor Compost?

Post by subgard »

Any paper will work. Run it through a paper shredder.

Also, cardboard boxes. You'll have to cut them up yourself, but there's virtually an endless supply behind retail businesses (And most don't mind you getting them.)

reepicheep
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Re: How to - Indoor Compost?

Post by reepicheep »

Zalo,

I'm in the very beginning stages of my own indoor compost, and this is a commercial solution so it may not be ideal for you, but I'm pretty happy with how it looks and how easy it was to set up:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002LH ... UTF8&psc=1

It comes with a DVD and an instructional booklet on indoor composting, as well as everything to get it set up (except for the worms).

Edit: And worms are really not that hard to take care of. You can leave them without food for a couple of weeks.
Last edited by reepicheep on Mon Mar 23, 2015 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

llorona
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Re: How to - Indoor Compost?

Post by llorona »

What are you going to do with the compost once you "make" it? Why not just put your kitchen scraps into a paper bag in the freezer?

TopHatFox
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Re: How to - Indoor Compost?

Post by TopHatFox »

Hm, maybe fill pots of fruit or vegetable bearing indoor plants, or give away the vitamin-rich soil on Freecycle, or sell the soil on Craigslist. So many possibilities!

Why would I put kitchen scraps into a paper bag in the freezer? Broth?

llorona
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Re: How to - Indoor Compost?

Post by llorona »

Ahh, I see. I thought the problem was that you were tired of hauling a rotting bag to your school's composting dumpster. I suggested storing your compostable kitchen scraps in the freezer so they would keep. I didn't realize that you actually want compost.

I started an outdoor compost bin last fall using a plastic trash bin from Walmart. It's pretty large and the volume keeps reducing. No compost yet, but hopefully the process will speed up now that it's getting warmer.

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Sclass
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Re: How to - Indoor Compost?

Post by Sclass »

Oh my, I tried this back in grad school to raise worms for my tropical fish. Things went pretty well till the plastic 2gallon bin started breeding drain flies and gnats. Then one day I got the dumb idea of tossing some raw onion tops into the bin. Within twenty four hours the worms had vacated the bin.

I found dried worms everywhere for the next year. In the cupboard, under the stereo, under the carpet :lol:

I quit and went back to fish pellets. All my apartment fauna died off.

BeyondtheWrap
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Re: How to - Indoor Compost?

Post by BeyondtheWrap »

Zalo wrote:Also, have you found any plentiful sources of free dry material year round? So far I have dry leaves in fall and part of winter, and maybe newspapers the rest of the year...
I generally put napkins into my compost after using them. Free from McDonald's, etc.

Alphaville
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Re: How to - Indoor Compost?

Post by Alphaville »

Sssso... I’ve dug out this thread instead of starting a new one with the same subject.

Basically I need to start from the back end before I set up my apartment crops.

Where does it all end up (and begin again)? The compost pile of course. Otherwise my “farm” is going to end up creating a trash problem and a purchase problem.

Any progress by anyone here on this front? Sclass’ story is hilarious. And it looks like I’ll need a containment zone...

That product looks interesting but I’m not sure. $$ for the unknown.

I have a balcony btw and it’s either too hot or frozen... I could also start a bucket of worms under the kitchen sink?

Maybe that’s how to ooch into this... then grow it as it grows.

jacob
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Re: How to - Indoor Compost?

Post by jacob »

We've been composting for about 10 years now, since it started with a rubbermaid container. I'd say, I finally got good at it about four years ago ... or the worms got good at it. I can now manage the carbon/nitrogen/water balance by stacking the materials and controlling the amounts I put in there w/o resorting to techmology like drainage holes.

Right now our worm farm sits in two large rubbermaid containers in the basement with about about 50-70 pounds of compost/composting material and no escapees. They go outside (in a box built out of 2x6s and hardcloth) between May and November 1st.

Alphaville
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Re: How to - Indoor Compost?

Post by Alphaville »

jacob wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 8:59 am
w/o resorting to techmology like drainage holes.
so you started with a system like the one linked in the article (also works like the product @reepicheep linked), and then basically ended with 2 passive crates, aka "buckets"?

giant crates are too big for my space (and i have no basement) but i could arrange for buckets... with some holes and carbon filters on top (easy to make) they could live indoors in winter.

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Re: How to - Indoor Compost?

Post by jacob »

Yes. my giant crates are ~2x3x1.5ft. I think it would get harder to manage as they get smaller. E.g. a 5gal bucket would be tough. Worms like to congregate when they feed, so you'll usually find a lot of them in the same spot. Before they find food (nitrogen) interesting, it has to be broken down by fungi, etc. This requires some time (and therefore space). With a bigger volume, it's possible to bury new food around the container w/o running into stuff that hasn't composted yet. A 6sqft surface is about the minimum surface for a bowl-sized full of vegetable scraps per week.

Put it another way, the capacity of a 5 gal bucket will be low. Put it a third way, the bigger, the more diversified it is. A small unit will have to be more tightly managed. You should also be aware of fruit flies. I occasionally have to deal with that. The happens if you feed above capacity and stuff doesn't get absolutely buried. Not a problem in the basement, but it would be annoying in an apartment.

Alphaville
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Re: How to - Indoor Compost?

Post by Alphaville »

in a bucket i could always plant a glue trap on the top for the flies, but i see what you mean about the volume/biomass.

so probably the worm composter tray system, which seems more intensive, would be more tolerable in a small space. also it looks better/can pass for planters (e.g. the terracotta one).

i wouldn't mind the extra management as it grows because it would be the other side of the microgreen operation.

and if left on a balcony year round i could create a discreet hoophouse for it in winter, plus maybe add a pipe heat cable to keep from freezing... some sort of temperature feedback maybe, with a sensor...

this one looks nice/midcentury modern :lol:

https://www.amazon.com/HOT-FROG-Living- ... 01N6RNS0D/

(but the price is stupid for some holy plastic)

--

ETA: yellow glue trap
Image

Alphaville
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Re: How to - Indoor Compost?

Post by Alphaville »

oooh you migrate the worms upward i see. now i get it. :idea:

these are the instructions from the manufacturer reepicheep posted:

https://thesquirmfirm.com/how-to-use-th ... omposting/

i think this could be achievable with stacked terracotta trays though or, what's the name, those rectangular planters...

Image

here the worms would just have to pass through a single drain/chokepoint instead of traveling freely. probably easy since they gather to eat: just bait the drain hole first.

now seeing how it works, it's not rocket science:

feed, feed, fill, stack
feed, feed, fill, stack
feed, feed, stack
collect from bottom.

feed, feed,stack... etc.

add/subtract levels as needed to balance the flow.

jacob
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Re: How to - Indoor Compost?

Post by jacob »

FWIW, the automagic upward migration has never worked for me. What usually happens is that the lower container runs out of food, but then the worms are happy to stay in their own shit^H^H^H^Hcompost which then starts drying out. This creates an airgap and so, lacking wings, they don't travel upwards. This is likely because I haven't figured out the detailed timing of making the entire congregation move to a new container simultaneously. This is possibly an ecumenical problem ...

What I do instead is to mix the wet compost (processed but still full of worms) with sphagnum and let it sit a few days to absorb the moisture. Then I shake it out on a frame with hard cloth that retains [most of the] worms and the remaining nondecomposed material which then gets dumped into a new container.

Alphaville
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Re: How to - Indoor Compost?

Post by Alphaville »

jacob wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 12:07 pm
FWIW, the automagic upward migration has never worked for me. What usually happens is that the lower container runs out of food, but then the worms are happy to stay in their own shit^H^H^H^Hcompost which then starts drying out. This creates an airgap and so, lacking wings, they don't travel upwards. This is likely because I haven't figured out the detailed timing of making the entire congregation move to a new container simultaneously. This is possibly an ecumenical problem ...
1. Image

2. YES
jacob wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 12:07 pm
What I do instead is to mix the wet compost (processed but still full of worms) with sphagnum and let it sit a few days to absorb the moisture. Then I shake it out on a frame with hard cloth that retains [most of the] worms and then remaining nondecomposed material which then gets dumped into a new container.
I’m too space-limited for that and have neighbors in every direction who might object to such operations.

so the vertical is literally the chokepoint. i will investigate, but seems to me that the problem might be lacking a precise cut for each box to fit over each other, i.e., what’s the correct “fill line.”

Alphaville
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Re: How to - Indoor Compost?

Post by Alphaville »

so i think this is why the grid models beat the hole models: they let you see how far to press down

you could achieve similar by pressing DRY, then watering so it swells up to reach

Alphaville
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Re: How to - Indoor Compost?

Post by Alphaville »

This one looks independent of the upward migration and similar to the large bin method.

It would fit fine in my balcony but I'm not sure I'd house this indoors in winter... might need a plastic cover or something in my high desert winter climate (frozen nights/sweltering days).

So might be "urban" but not really "indoor" I think. Looks like a yard product.

https://www.amazon.com/Urban-Worm-Bag-C ... B078RHPWZ4

It also appears more reproducible, at least the frame part, although I don't know what's the bag itself. It's cheaper too overall and has a short but useful instructional video.

mathiverse
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Re: How to - Indoor Compost?

Post by mathiverse »

jacob wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 8:59 am
I can now manage the carbon/nitrogen/water balance by stacking the materials and controlling the amounts I put in there w/o resorting to technology like drainage holes.
Is it feasible to compost without worms and without drainage holes given some practice?

Like TopHatFox, I don't really want to manage worms, but I was looking into creating a compost pile in a bucket on my balcony today and only came across DIY suggestions that require adding drainage holes. If there is an alternative that can be done by practicing management of the compost, then that would be great since I wouldn't have to worry about dripping water onto my neighbor's balcony. :lol:

Also awesome to read that I can use cardboard for the dry material! I have a ton of card board boxes courtesy of Amazon and buying office furniture due to WFH, so plenty of that to go around. Would I have any issue using cardboard as 100% of my carbon providing material?

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Re: How to - Indoor Compost?

Post by jacob »

I don't know but I doubt it. As far as I understand, wormless composting requires the compost to reach a certain temperature and that requires the mass to have a certain size (much larger than a bucket).

I'd use the amazon carbon, since it has no color printing, but some people wouldn't. I don't know why.

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