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Urban Composting: How to Compost in An Indoor Living Area

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Composting is the natural process of recycling organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps (makeup 25 to 50% of domestic waste), into a valuable fertilizer that can enrich soil and plants. Composting simply speeds up the process of decomposing by providing an ideal environment for bacteria, fungi, and other decomposing organisms (such as worms, sowbugs, and nematodes). Compost is rich in nutrients and can be used for gardening, horticulture, and agriculture [1].


Composting is the natural process of recycling organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps (makeup 25 to 50% of domestic waste), into a valuable fertilizer that can enrich soil and plants
Food Waste Composting

 
 

There are various methods of composting, one of the methods to compost in a living indoor area is vermicomposting. By getting worms to do most of the work, this composting method quickly processes household waste­ to become compost and produce nutrient-rich ‘worm tea’ suitable for plants [3].


How to Make A Vermicomposter?

Many containers are suitable for vermicomposting. You can buy them already pre-designed or make your own with materials that you have at home. Though, it should meet a certain set of requirements such as aeration and the shape of the container. Worms need oxygen to breathe, every vermicomposter must have holes for air to prevent the anaerobic situation which can cause bad odors and will make the worms sick. Vermicomposter must create an aerobic space (in other words: with oxygen) so that worms and microorganisms work hand in hand.


If faced with containers of the same volume but has different shapes, the one with a larger surface is better for the composting process. The ideal: Stacked trays, it will get more aeration and more compost in less space. In each of the trays, there is compost in different stages, the worms can move from one to another as they see fit [4].


Vermicompost (vermi-compost) is the product of the decomposition process using various species of worms
Vermicomposting

Photo by Inneke Ramadhanty Putri Wardani



What Kind of Worm is Suitable for Vermicomposting?

It is very important to choose the right worm. Red Wiggler worms are the most popular choice for vermicomposting: they are extremely efficient waste-eaters. Fishing worms and earthworms from garden/soil are not recommended for decomposing because they have very different functions and behaviors [5].


What are The Right Ingredients to Put in The Vermicomposter?

A healthy bin will have a mixture of nitrogen-rich “green” waste and carbon-rich “brown” waste. If there’s too much carbon in the bin, decomposition will slow down; if there’s too much nitrogen, the bin will emit smelly ammonia. Ideally, you want to aim to keep your compost around 50% carbon and 50% nitrogen. Always keep a layer of shredded paper or sawdust over the top of the pile to discourage smells and bugs [6].

A healthy bin will have a mixture of nitrogen-rich “green” waste and carbon-rich “brown” waste.
Nitrogen and Carbon Ingredients

Photo by Inneke Ramadhanty Putri Wardani



How to Maintain The Vermicomposter and Keep The Worms Alive?

Here are some few tips and tricks that you can follow to maintain your vermicomposter [3]:

  • Worm composters work well indoors or on a small balcony, providing temperatures stay between 15⁰-30⁰ C. Worms won’t survive a deep freeze and should be brought indoors when temperatures plummet. Worms also need to be protected from overheating and drowning—so watch out for direct sun and rain.

  • Feed the worms on one side of the bin for a couple of weeks in order to draw the worms to that side. Once all the worms are on one side, harvest the compost on the other side and use it in pots, your garden, or sprinkle it across your yard. Be sure to harvest compost at the end of the week, before you feed the worms again.

  • Once every few months, scoop the liquid out of the lower container and use it as fertilizer outside on soil near plants, or water it down to use on indoor plants.


That’s it! The process of vermicomposting is relatively simple and efficient to reducing organic waste rather than unused and ends up in the landfill. Let’s start to turn our waste into compost with vermicomposting, even if we don't have a backyard or enough space. Happy worms, happy plants!



 

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