Can a composter be made of anything?



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    As long as you have proper ventilation and can find a container which will allow the core of the compost to heat, you can compost in anything. I have seen standard piles unenclosed by any structure, to DIY compost tumblers made from plastic and covered with aluminum foil to capture more heat. If you are indoor and worried about space, you may want to look into composting by “vermiculture” which is essentially using a worm farm of special varieties of hungry worms (usually red wriggler) that will eat about a pound of compost everyday for 2 pounds of worms. This method is free from odor, so is great indoors. The issue is what you’re composting goals are. If you want to simply dispose of food, worms are the way to go, but if you are trying to build soil, that is another thing altogether.

    Making soil with compost is going to require you a place to put your finished compost. This is why many people show methods of doing this outdoors. You can create compost bins with wire, such as by making a round cylindar shape to layer your compost (optional bottom of sticks for better aeration, then nitrogen layer, then carbon layer, then nitrogen layer. . .) or with wooden pallets tied/nailed together.

    You can still complete the composting indoors, but most people recommend you have a 3 ft X 3 ft area of material to start with right away. I have used recycling bins and rubbermaid containers – you can scalvage (scavenge and salvage!) these. You will want to have something to cover the container. It could be as simple as cardboard or carpet. You have to remember to keep your compost aerated and moist, which will require you to lift the top and poke it a little, or have holes drilled around the edges of the container. When I tried this I attracted flies. If you keep extremely well maintained compost you can keep the bugs at bay. That would require cutting all compost scraps into small shreds for quicker break-down, and keeping the proper carbon to nitrogen ratios. You should check out the Berkeley Method of Composting, which can cut the process of unfinished to finished compost down to 14 days (

    This website shows a link to compost calculator for carbon/nitrogen ratios.

    You may decide to go with a commercial container if you still want to do things indoors. This can allow for compartmentalizing layers or mixing compost together more painlessly. The most important thing to remember is aeration or else the compost will start to smell very bad. There have been reports of commercial “darth vadar” compost mechanisms ( that do not actually work because rotting food is merely mounded in a think plastic container.

    Hope this information does not scare you, but gets you started on your decomposition adventure!




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