Composting in an Apartment?

Can I use a Rubbermaid barrel for a compost pile? I rent my apartment and the owner doesn't want any contraptions.

Hardiness Zone: 6a

Joyce from Danvers, MA



August 6, 20080 found this helpful

I'd check with the owner of your apartment before doing anything. You wouldn't want them to cancel your lease and then ask you to find another place to live.

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By millard_crystal (Guest Post)
August 6, 20080 found this helpful

You could look into a worm composter. Basically it is a box with holes, some dirt and alot of worms. You just add your kitchen scraps and they do the rest. There are plans for them online or companies that sell them. I went to a master gardners class that was showing some that fit in a kitchen cupboard! Also if your landlord pays for garbage removal you could mention how much money composting would save him. I live in town and have a self contained system. It kind of looks like a Darth Vadar helmet. No smell, no rotting food to look at, and best of all pest proof! My neighbors had no idea we were composting. They cost about $100 online but mine was free through a local college's master gardner program at my local library.

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August 6, 20080 found this helpful

I agree with both posters. My daughter has a worm farm under her sink and loves it but your landlord may not.

I also rent and want some composted material. Online sources mentioned that the minimum amount to process by oneself efficiently is about three cubic feet -- quite a bit for an apartment.

I asked a gardening guru who is also one of the very best columnists at my local newspaper. He suggested brewing compost "tea". Mix one cup of compost in a gallon of water and let stand in summer sunshine for a day or two. Then repeat. He said you can never use enough.

Where to get the compost? Beg, buy, steal, I think. Tis too late in the growing season to buy from WalMart -- they cleaned out their inventory here at $1 a bag.

I have my eye on a seemingly mature compost pile at a local fire station nearby. I'm sure they'd give me a shovelful or two.

You probably know way more people than I do -- ask.

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August 7, 20080 found this helpful

My MIL has a worm bucket in the basement. She just started with some soil and peat moss... it's one of the under the bed type rubbermaid totes with holes drilled in it. You have to order the worms though - the ones you dig out of the backyard aren't quite the right kind to use. She puts veggies and I think pasta in them, no meat so no smell. They make great potting soil and when she has too many worms she either gives them away to someone to start their own or uses them to feed her fish (small pond outside). If you can get away with it, the worms are the way to go!

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

February 14, 2001

I recently relocated from a house where I had a yard to an apartment in the city where I have none. Does anyone know of any resources, books, or tips for composting in the city? Having composted for years, I would hate to start throwing out compostable material.

By John


February 14, 20010 found this helpful

I have 3 large (at least 5 gals) flower pots. I put my kitchen scraps mixed with a little dirt in the bottom pot. When it's almost full, I nest the next pot inside the first one and keep filling and stacking. By the time the top pot is full, the bottom pot is finished compost. I have a pot tray on the bottom to water the compost and another tray on the top to keep the fruit flies away. The whole thing takes up about 1 1/2 square feet of yard space. - Grace

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February 15, 20010 found this helpful

You can do red worm composting any where with no smell & in the house.

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February 15, 20010 found this helpful

In one word....worms! You can put a container under your sink. - Karin

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April 5, 20010 found this helpful

Like the other responses said - worm bin composting would be perfect (I have a yard and do this in addition to my outdoor shepard bin). For how to information check out this website ( - it also has a lot of other helpful information. With worm bin composting (vermicomposting) you can compost papers and kitchen scraps easily.

Also, have you thought about seeing if your apartment complex would allow a small demo garden where you could put a simple 3-bin system and provide compost for the apt. dwellers. If you were building and turning your piles before, this won't seem like a lot of work (and you might be able to get a few volunteers to help once in a while).

Finally, check to see if there is a master composters group in your area that has demo sites set up already that you can contribute to or call the city to see if they do any city wide composting.

Hope these ideas help. - Benjamin

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