Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Composting in an Apartment

You probably think I'm crazy - talking about gardening and composting in the middle of winter. For Christmas this year, I received an indoor composter from my boyfriend, made by NatureMill. So now instead of putting my vegetable cuttings and leftover pasta into the trash, I can put it in this composter where it will turn into usable dirt within 2 weeks or so!

You may think that your trash that can break down into dirt, breaks down once it's in the landfill. Think about this for a minute - what do you put your trash in? A plastic bag. Can plastic bags break down? Not really, not for a long time. Especially considering the fact that your trash bag is piled underneath thousands of other trash bags, away from the sun and air that help the trash break down. So all your trash that could be made into rich dirt isn't.

The composter is about the size of an old school computer tower, and is made out of black styrofoam. (Side note: Styrofoam actually is not that bad for the earth because it is much lighter to transport than paper products.) Compostable items are placed in this metal tray, and it is stirred every few hours. The entire thing is kept at an elevated temperature to rush along the breakdown process. I have to add sawdust and baking soda. I think the baking soda prevents odors.

So far I have one container of dirt. It's so rich (or so the pamplet says) that you can't actually pot a plant in it - Once the compost has "cured" long enough, I'm just supposed to sprinkle it on top of the soil so the nutrients drain down into the roots.

This sort of luxury (composting inside) doesn't come cheap. The thing costs between $199 and $399, depending on your model. And, mine is currently "jammed" even though there is no visible blockage. I've tried everything, aside from a phone call to the manufacturer.

Still, I have hope for my little composter. Soon I'll have fertile soil enough to help start a city garden, all without owning any land! Now that's a technological advance.

Related Posts: Composting in the City; Green tips for the New Year; Make Love, Not Grass; Bee-ware: Where have all the bees gone?; Patio Gardens and City Growing
Photo of landfill courtesy of D'Arcy Norman. Photo of the composter courtesy of NatureMill.


Krystle said...

Is there any smell in your apartment?

Casey said...

Well.. there is right now because the thing was jammed. It kind of smells like I have a gerbil or something - sawdusty. However, normally it does not smell at all. And now it's un-jammed. I may, however, have to empty it and clean it out, and start over. No biggy.

Misty said...

Good for you! They also have a non-electric cheaper indoor composting method out there, search for "Bokashi" - I can't vouch for it because I haven't tried it personally, but I want to!