If you’re interested in reducing your organic compost in the city but just don’t know how to get started in a small space, here are three great ways to get composting today like a pro.
Technically, bokashi is a fermenting process, rather than a composting process. Still, it serves the purpose of reducing your organic waste and it’s small scale so it could be right up your urban alley.
Like a compost pile, you throw your food scraps on the heap and wait for them to break down. Unlike a compost pile, you add an accelerant to assist with the fermenting process. Also unlike a compost pile bokashi relies on an anaerobic system (it doesn’t like having air about) rather than an aerobic system. This is important for the success of the system.
A big advantage of bokashi is that you can break down pretty much everything, including your meat and dairy waste. This is something traditional composting methods struggle with. Bokashi systems are small units built for the urban environment and they break down waste quickly, so they work in small, indoor spaces.
The downside is that because bokashi doesn’t technically compost, the ‘finished product’ is more like a pickle than the compost of your imagination. This means that you then need to feed it into another composting system or bury it in the garden before you can use it as compost. And because the urban jungle doesn’t often offer the luxury of excess ground to bury our bokashi, you really need to use bokashi in conjunction with another composting system if you live in the city.
The beauty of worm composting is that worms produce a beautiful rich compost that can go directly onto your plants. In short, the worms eat your organic waste, they digest it and the poo they produce in the process is the compost. Digestion 101. It’s as simple as that – no added extras required. And the product is remarkably nutrient rich, enhancing your soil, increasing yield and reducing disease. Get more details on the benefits of worm farming, here.
Worm composting is a good option for city dwellers because you don’t need a big space – your farm can be as big or as small as you want it to be. The size will, however, dictate how much you can compost. The smaller your farm the less the farm will digest and the less compost it will produce.
Worm composting is relatively easy but because vermicomposting relies on live worms, you also need to keep those worms in conditions that will keep them alive and healthy. They require a certain temperature, aeration, moisture and diet to survive. Although this becomes second nature with a little time and practice, it’s something worm composters need to keep in check on an ongoing basis. If worm composting is for you, it’s worth reading up on the tips and tricks that guarantee a healthy worm farm.
A tumbler composter is ‘hot’ composting on a smaller scale. A tumbler is effectively a sealed drum that can be easily rotated with a handle to aerate and turn the compost. Because they are smaller than the average compost pile, tumblers are much easier to manage and the ease of mixing the composted materials speeds up the composting process. The sealed unit means it won’t attract pests.
That said, you still need to balance the ‘brown’ (nitrogen rich) and ‘green’ (carbon rich) materials so that the waste breaks down effectively. That all sounds awfully scientific but don’t let it scare you – you will learn how to balance materials with a little practice. The availability of those materials in the city may require a little creativity however. For a better understanding of how brown and green materials work in the composting process, check this out.
Tumbler composting requires a little more space than bokashi or vermicomposting because you will need to have enough room to house your tumbler. A small courtyard or balcony would work best for this option.
Each system has its pros and cons and the choice you make will depend on your specific circumstances. You could try one method or try a couple simultaneously to see what works best for you. Also, it’s good to remember that while composting is relatively easy, no system is maintenance free. You need to commit, even if it’s just a few minutes a day. This is a small commitment for the return on investment though: you reduce your organic waste AND you have an end product that works wonders for our soil and our plants!
Featured image from: @kfnutrition
Hannah is a passionate lover of plants and has a firm belief that even the darkest corners of the concrete jungle can be greenified. Her penchant for composting and bad plant puns led to the creation of the The Worm Monger, a website that allows her to thoroughly indulge all these passions.
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