Tips for Creating a Kitchen Countertop Compost Bin
Tired of throwing away food scraps and other potential compost ingredients? Here's how to start a countertop compost plan.
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Choose Your Container and Location
First, you need a composting container. There are some excellent official versions you can buy, such as sturdy countertop compost bins with lids that include air holes and useful handles. However, with the right metal, plastic or ceramic container, you can create your own DIY compost container, as long as it has a secure, tightly-sealed lid. Air holes are necessary to help the composting material “breathe.” The bacteria and other microbes in charge of the decomposition need oxygen to do their jobs, and without holes compost can quickly heat up through excess gas production.
While it’s called countertop composting, you should also think about where to put your countertop compost bin container. You probably don’t want it in the pantry or near food preparation areas, which limits your options. Under the sink is a common option if you have room!
Use Charcoal Filters
Compost is made largely out of rotting food matter, and that means that it will stink. There’s no way around that, but there are plenty of ways to control the smell for a countertop compost bin. One of the most effective tools is a charcoal filter, which you can buy in packs and attach to your compost container lid. Air can still flow through the filter, but it will help keep a lot of the smell from escaping. Don’t try to add compounds to the compost itself to control odors because that ruins the careful composition of your compost matter.
Know Your Composting Method
Because this article focuses on indoor composting, vermicomposting (composting with live worms) is probably out the question. Air holes allow for the relatively mild aeration method, but you still need to understand what sort of materials to compost. Vegetable and fruit peels are the most common elements, followed by eggshells, coffee grounds and shredded paper towels.
Never try to compost meat products with this method, and keep a watchful eye on the materials you’re using. Too many fruit peels can make the compost acidic, which means you may need to stop and add more eggshells and veggies scraps for a while. Always crush and shred the materials you are adding, and try to mix them frequently. To boost your countertop compost into faster action, consider a microbe additive as well.
Manage Your Moisture Levels
You really don’t want your compost becoming too soupy or swampy. That can cause multiple issues, including unpleasant smells. Keep your container at room temperature. If it looks like it’s getting too moist, add more shredded paper towels and newspapers until it reaches a more soil-like consistency.
Prepare for Flies
Fruit flies in particular can be a problem with countertop compost, because their eggs may be hidden away in peels and scraps. If you start to notice tiny fruit flies swarming around your compost container or nearby plants, it is time to take action. Check out these tips for eliminating different types of bugs. Or you can buy commercial traps.
Go Smaller, If Necessary
Are you primarily interested in curbside compost pickup and scrap recycling? It’s okay to go much simpler. A large plastic bag or container that fits inside your freezer is really all you need. The freezer will slow decomposition and prevent annoying odors from developing. This allows you to store scraps and quickly transport them elsewhere when necessary. This isn’t a good practice if you want to mix in compost with your own soil, but it is handy for other types of recycling.