Indoor composting - Easy peasy

An indoor compost bin is a small scale odourless system that creates a liquid fertiliser and compost matter within weeks. There are several different types of bins available on the market.

Depending on which product you choose, they will work by a process of aerobic or anaerobic fermentation.

It is important to note: Waste does not break down in the bucket; it ferments. The final breakdown and decomposition process occurs when it is buried in the soil. (Please remember - only bury this layer to the top section of your soil - you do not want to cause a toxic environment deep down where there is limited air available)

To get it right, you need to have the right tools - (A bucket or a bin system that has a valve or tap at the base to empty liquid contents as well as a secure lid to keep the odours in and the creepy crawlies out).

How does it work? - You simply empty your waste product in the bin, tap out the juices and bury into the garden! Seems simple enough, right?

(Something to be aware of: Make sure you are purchasing an indoor composter product and not just a regular bin for collecting your compost waste!!)

Essential knowledge to get you started

You're going to need to start collecting those kitchen scraps. So start cooking and re-think your garbage disposal. For a more detailed description of what you can and can't recycle for an indoor composter see below, but for now...What exactly do you need to get started?

​These days - there are so many products on the market of indoor composters. You need to find one that is sizeable and works to your space. Don't want to have it displayed? You can find ones like the Yukchuk that are free standing or can sit on the wall of your kitchen cabinet. Pretty nifty right? (See some of our recommended products below).

Things to consider before choosing your bin

Space, budget and functionality

Space - Your choosing this method if you lack garden space outdoors. You generally don't need a large area, and it depends on whether or not your happy to show off your bin to house guests. Measure out the area your willing to utilise (if underneath the sink or in the pantry) and scope out the indoor compost bin sizes relevant to you. 

Budget - There are some pretty neat DIY projects out there, but you need to employ some creativity and have the right tools. If DIY is not your thing - look to be investing $$ for a good quality indoor composter. 

Functionality - ​A good indoor bin should have a tight seal to keep odours in and bugs out. If the bin you choose uses anaerobic fermentation (fermentation that occurs without oxygen) a secure lid is important. Contrasting to this, a bin that uses aerobic processes, should ensure adequate air flow. 

You want to be on the lookout for some essential criteria so ask some questions before you buy: Is it dishwasher safe? Easy to clean? Made of durable materials? Does it require a bin liner? Does it require a product mix? Is the bin large enough for your waste?

The disadvantages of this method

Well, to be honest -  there aren't too many if you do it right. This comes with an understanding of the right things to dispose, regular emptying and regular cleaning.

Some bins such as the Bokashi - require the upkeep of purchasing a Bokashi mix (which can add up costs when you are composting per kilo) to help the fermentation process along as well as eliminate some of those odours.

Products on the market

What we love and why we love it

Yukchuk under-counter

YUKCHUK Kitchen Compost Container

- Can be stored on the wall or under the sink (includes mountable brackets)
- Dishwasher safe

- Requires bin liners
- Material made of plastic 

Full Circle Fresh $29.99

Full Circle Fresh Kitchen Compost Collector

- Made from recycled plastic (different sizes available)
- Dishwasher safe and user friendly

- Requires bin liners

Exaco ECO-2000

Exaco ECO-2000 Kitchen Compost Collector

- Includes Carbon filter (prevents odours)
- Dishwasher Safe
- Can be wall mounted
- Larger capacity 

- Made of Plastic
- Does not necessarily require liners but are recommended

Norpro Ceramic Compost

​Norpro Ceramic Compost Keeper

- Made out of ceramic, aesthetically appealing
- Includes filter
- Easy to clean 

- Ceramic lid is not air tight
- Made of fragile material and is heavier than other plastic alternatives

All seasons

SCD Probiotics Indoor Composter
- Includes Strainer and Spigot (produces liquid fertilizer)
- Cleans easily and is durable

- Made of Plastic
- Requires activator mix to be added regularly

Stainless Steel Compost

Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin

- Easy to clean
- Made from durable and unbreakable material
- Includes replaceable charcoal filter
- Dishwasher safe

- Not as aesthetically appealing
- Filter is tricky to change 
- Holes on lid attracts fruit flies

Chef'n EcoCrock Counter Compost Bin

- Contemporary design
- Easy to clean
- Includes Charcoal Filter
- Removable inner pail/bucket

- Smaller volume
- Lid does not fit securely with inside bucket

BOKASHI ONE bucket composter

- Airtight and secure lid
- Includes Strainer/tap (produces liquid fertiliser)
- Larger volume size

- Made of plastic
- Requires activator mix to be added regularly

What you can and can't recycle

There are some general rules which you have to abide by with any composting technique. As far as indoor composting goes there are certain items which you should and shouldn't recycle. In general, you will be recycling more kitchen than garden waste with an indoor composter. 

As a general rule for most compost mixtures - you should stick to 1:2. This means 1 part nitrogen to 2 parts carbon (or 1/3 nitrogen to 2/3 carbon). The key for nitrogen based materials is green and wet. This generally includes things like kitchen food scraps, waste and fresh grass clippings. Carbon based materials include (but not limited to) dried garden clippings, dried leaves, cardboard and shredded newspaper. For a detailed and in-depth list of nitrogen and carbon materials, see here.

Works well

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Cooked leftovers 
  • Juice pulp
  • Dairy (small amounts)
  • Eggs
  • Tea bags and coffee grounds
  • Wilted flowers
  • Shredded newspapers and cardboard (Including tissue paper, toilet rolls)
  • Cooked and uncooked meats and fish (small amounts)

Works not so well

  • Large Bones
  • Excessive amounts of liquid
  • Fat and oils
  • Pet waste/faeces
  • Glass, plastic, Aluminium (common sense, would you eat these?)
  • Rotten/mouldy foods

Tips for a successful indoor bin

  • An optimal location for your bin is secured under the sink, out of the sun and somewhere away from fruit flies and pests
  • Do not add water or excessive amounts of liquid; If your compost has a tap - ensure that you drain regularly
  • You should have a tap at the base of your system. Make sure this is emptied regularly. (If using the liquid fertiliser straight onto your plants or garden make sure you dilute first. one teaspoon to 2-3 litres of water works well. This is a very powerful and concentrated liquid fertiliser). Make sure you use the liquid within 24 hours of emptying
  • Wash your compost bin/bucket after every use and empty to reduce odour build up
  • Break or chop larger pieces into smaller pieces to help the fermentation process along

Having problems with your pH?

Testing the pH of your compost soil is CRUCIAL. What do we mean by this and why?

​PH is a value given to the describe the acidity or alkalinity of a subject, in this case soil. You can use a soil pH to follow the process of decomposition as well as check for imbalances.

For an indoor compost - you generally won't need to test the ph within the bucket. This is where the fermentation process occurs. If you are concerned about pH, you should be checking your soil once you have added your matter to the garden​ and the final breakdown process has begun.

​A deranged pH level will affect the final outcome of plant growth and absorption of nutrients.

​You should be checking your soil pH at least once every two weeks. The optimal neutral pH level you should be aiming for is between 6.0 - 7.0

​If you test your soil and you find that your pH is > 7.0, this means your soil is alkaline. ​Alkaline soils have a direct impact on plant growth (stunting) and the ability for plants to absorb soil nutrients.

​​​If you test your soil and you find your pH is < 7.0, this means your soil is more acidic. Acidic soil, similar to the problem of alkaline soil, will affect a plants ability to absorb nutrients and can eventually become toxic. Acidic soils will directly impact the absorption of beneficial bacteria and can leave your plants susceptible to disease and pests.

Important to note: The ph value will vary in parts of your soil due to temperature and mixture. As a general rule, it is a good idea to test the pH of various different areas of your soil and then calculate a mean pH value.

​​There are some simple techniques you can explore to fix an abnormal pH

​Acidic soil solutions
Slow solutions include:
Neutralise by adding crushed egg shells
Avoid fruit scraps such as peels and pulp
Fast solutions include:
Adding agricultural lime

Alkaline soil solutions
Slow solutions include:
Neutralise by adding small amounts of peeled fruit skins mixed with damp newspaper shredding 
Fast solutions include:
Add agricultural sulphur, iron sulphate, or aluminium sulphate

How to test pH

There are a multitude of cheap and effective soil tester kits available these days for pH testing. You can source these from your local nursery or hardware store or alternatively, online have some good solutions, see below!

Have some questions you want answered about indoor composting bins? Feel free to leave a comment below! 

Limited space to work with? Composting indoors is a good way to make use of those small vacant areas around the house and under the kitchen sink. Indoor composing is cheap and relatively straight forward. Want to learn more?

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Leave a Reply: