Composting explained

There are a lot of myths and preconceptions about composting that can deter people from exploring it as an alternative to tossing their scraps in the bin. Some of the myths include: composting is complicated; it takes too long; it requires too much space; it smells bad; or it attracts pests. The reality is that composting is a natural process that can be replicated whether you live in a house or an apartment.

If your compost mix is balanced correctly with the right proportions of browns, greens, water and oxygen, it will not smell or attract rodents.
Certain items, such as anything containing meat, oil, fat or grease, animal feces or dairy products, should not be added to your compost as they can cause bad smells and attract pests. Composting yard waste or trimmings that have been treated with pesticides is also not recommended.

What to compost?

All composting requires a mix of “browns” (dead leaves, branches, twigs, newspaper), “greens” (fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells) and water.
The brown materials provide the carbon necessary for the composting process while the green materials provide the nitrogen. An unbalanced mix can slow or stop the composting process.
The two other essential ingredients for composting are water and oxygen. Again, striking the right balance is crucial as compost that is too dry will cause the microbes to go dormant and compost that is too wet will cause rot and odour. Turning your pile periodically helps introduce much-needed oxygen into the mix.

Outdoor Composting

Compost piles should be situated in a dry, shady spot that can be reached with a hose and that isn’t too far from the food and yard waste collection point. Starting a compost on bare earth will allow worms and other helpful organisms to aerate the compost.
A compost pile should begin with a layer of twigs on the bottom to encourage drainage. The pile should then be built in layers, alternating green and brown waste. The compost pile should be kept moist, but not soaking wet. Covering your compost pile with tarp will ensure it has enough moisture and heat to break down the organic matter and prevent over-watering from too much rain. Every few weeks, the pile should be turned with a pitchfork or shovel. The process can also be done with a large rotating compost tumbler that can simply be turned regularly to aerate the mix.
Once the compost starts to look like rich, dark soil, it can be added to garden beds, lawns or potted plants.

Indoor Composting

For apartment dwellers, outdoor composting can still be a viable option if the condominium strata agrees to a communal tumbler or pile that can be used on the common grounds.
Another option for those with less outdoor space is indoor composting. On the more expensive end of the indoor composting spectrum are hot composters like The FoodCycler and Zera which promise ready-to-use compost within hours, but lower cost options include the All Seasons Indoor Composter Kit, which relies on anaerobic fermentation. 
There are also a variety of instructional articles and videos online that provide step-by-step instructions for creating indoor composting bins that can be stored under the kitchen sink.

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