Indoor Composting 101

Save items from going to the landfill by composting your kitchen scraps indoors this winter and turning them into gardening soil for yourself or your community. Indoor composting can be done by anyone and is an easy way to reduce waste.

Where to Compost Indoors:

  • Plastic buckets are inexpensive and offered in a variety of sizes.
  • Porcelain container can be more expensive than a bucket, but more attractive.
  • Stainless steel buckets are stain and odor resistant.

Whatever you use to compost, be sure that it has aeration holes.

Composting Tips:

  • Avoid a soggy compost bin by adding shredded paper or dry leaves every time you add food scraps or coffee grounds.
  • Use a hand trowel to turn the contents of your bin to keep it warm and increase microbial action.
  • Chop your food scraps into small pieces to speed up the breakdown process.

What to Compost:

There are two types of organic materials you can put in your indoor compost bin – green and brown. Green organic material is high in nitrogen and is considered ‘wet.’ Brown organic material is considered ‘dry’ and is high in carbon. It is important to try to keep a balance of 50% green and 50% brown material.

  • Vegetables waste
  • Fruit waste
  • Freezer burned fruit and veggies
  • Old spices
  • Stale chips
  • Nut shells
  • Organic fruit rinds and peels
  • Egg shells
  • Coffee grounds
  • Coffee filters
  • Tea bags
  • Cooked rice
  • Paper napkins
  • Paper towels
  • Seedless weeds
  • Leaves
  • Grass clippings
  • Wood chips
  • Sawdust
  • Shredded paper
  • Houseplant trimmings

What NOT to Compost:

  • Cooked waste that may mold
  • Meat
  • Cheese
  • Gravy
  • Butter
  • Moldy bread
  • Oil
  • Fish
  • Wet grass
  • Ashes
  • Animal waste

Ready, set, wait!

Sometimes your compost bin can be full before it is ready to use. If you are waiting for a full compost bin to process but have kitchen scraps you don’t want to waste, you can:

  • Start another compost bin
  • Refrigerate or freeze kitchen scraps to make vegetable stock or “garbage soup”
  • Feed food scraps to chickens

The Finished Product:

It can take anywhere from 14 days to 12 months to produce a finished compost. The time it takes to process can vary depending on the materials and methods you use. In general, compost is ready when it is dark, crumbly and mostly broken down with an earthy, soil-like smell. If your compost bin is full of a finished product you can use your compost for:

  • House Plants
  • Soil fertilizer
  • Flower, fruit, or vegetable garden
  • New planting areas
  • Lawn top dressing

You can now pat yourself on the back! You have contributed to the soil and avoided adding to a landfill. Your healthy house plants, flowers, vegetables and trees will thank you!

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