Easy Composting for Your Home & Garden

rachel meeks

Rachel from Small Notebook

Today I'm talking to Rachel Meeks of Small Notebook about setting up a worm compost bin in small quarters.

Composting is something I've wanted to do in our home for awhile, but I need another regular mom to show me the way. Rachel's writing on simple living inspires me a lot, and so have her simplified tips on how to compost.


1. You, your husband, and young daughter live in a small apartment in the city. What do you need to get started with composting in small living quarters?

The kind of composting that we do is called worm composting, and we keep a small compost bin in our apartment. We compost our food scraps, and compost worms help to break down the food and turn it into a rich soil for our plants.  

You can make your own compost bin with two matching Rubbermaid storage containers. I've seen expensive bins to buy online, but it's so easy and cheap to make your own. 

You also need compost worms. You can't go out and dig up earthworms. They need to be a specific kind. I bought red compost worms online and had them shipped since I couldn't find anyone in the city who had them.

compost bin

Rachel's DIY compost bin

2. How long have you been composting? What made you start?

I've composted for almost a year. I find inspiration reading about families who become self-sufficient, including one family who support themselves on a 1/5 acre lot in the city. I dream about having a big garden and a few chickens, but those things will wait until I have a house. Composting was something I could learn about and do right away.

My main concern before I started was that the compost would have a bad smell. I shouldn't have worried--the compost bin has absolutely no smell at all. Ours is hidden inside a cabinet, and no one ever knows it's there.

compost bin

Rachel prepares her compost bin

3. What do you compost? What can't you compost?

I compost our fruit and vegetable scraps and some paper and cardboard. The compost bin isn't large enough for a lot of paper, so it's best to reduce the amount of paper that enters your home in the first place. I don't compost meat or dairy because that would attract unwanted pests.

compost bin

Apple peels, paper, and other scraps break down in the compost bin

4. Take us through the steps of composting on a daily basis.

It's not a daily commitment; it doesn't require that much effort. At first I was overly attentive and checked the bin frequently, wondering if I was adding enough or too much food for the worms. Now I know I can leave it alone, and it will be fine. The only thing I do is collect food scraps in a Tupperware container in the fridge.


Plants thrive in the rich soil

5. Is there weekly maintenance required with your compost?

Once every week or two I add the food scraps to the compost bin, and then I cover the food with pieces of wet cardboard or paper egg cartons. I check to make sure the soil is damp. Sometimes I water my plants with any liquid that has drained to the bottom. It all takes about ten minutes total.

About every three months, it's time to collect the finished compost. I push the compost over to one side of the bin, and add fresh paper and food scraps to the other side. When the worms migrate to the fresh side, you can collect the compost for your plants. I spread the compost on top of the soil in the flower pots of my container garden. My plants love it and grow well.

There is a step-by-step tutorial on Small Notebook with more information and photos about how I assembled and take care of the compost bin.

It's so easy, I'll definitely keep doing it. It changes something wasteful into something valuable, so there's really no reason not to.

About Rachel Meeks:
Rachel writes about creating a simple and peaceful home at Small Notebook. She's working her way through a year's supply of chocolate from Christmas, so please, somebody come help her.

Well, I know I'm really inspired to start composting now. It looks so easy, and my boys are going to be so thrilled when I finally allow worms in the house.

+++ How about you? Are you considering starting a compost bin?

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