merrycat
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COmposting questions from a newbie

Hey, I'm new here, and new to gardening. I've been reading up as much as I can, but there's so much I still don't know LOL

First off, I was wondering, what's the smallest container you can compost in? We're in a little apartment with a tiiiny, already pretty crowded balcony, so I'd really like to start small. Would a large Rubbermaid container be big enough? Our winters drop to -30 here, will that make a difference? Will it smell? Because if not there's also a spot under the sink where a larger bin could fit neatly.

I also have two guinea pigs who give me plenty of dropping filled hay that I'd like to try composting. I'm pretty sure the droppings count as greens, but I'm confused as to whether the hay is a green or a brown? I've seen it classified both ways. Also, is the hay still good to use if it's been peed on it? To be honest, it becomes a stinky, rotting mess pretty quickly without frequent cleaning.

They also love to shred up newspapers and cardboard boxes for me, which I figure can go into the bin as well. And we'll throw in kitchen peelings. Does that sound balanced? Should I add anything else?

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this!

dustyrivergardens
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I think for you I would go with a Bokashi compost bin.

superschwein22
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Oh, I also have guineas. They are the best. Honestly, I am not too concerned about the unrine on the hay. I read that you can actually compost human urine if you add water so I figure, animal urine is fine since it already is somewhat dilluted due to the other stuff that goes with it, such as hay and shavings. I could be wrong. However, the shavings will slow down your composting so I would only use little amounts of it.

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rainbowgardener
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It's a difficult situation. Composting does not work very well small scale and it does not work without lots of air circulation. It also does not work much below freezing - the materials will just sit there frozen and not do much and then start composting again when it warms up. A working compost pile generates some heat that helps it keep going for awhile, but that takes a larger pile.

The traditional answer for apartment composting would be either the Bokashi bin or a worm bin. Type worm bin, worm composting, or vermicomposting in to the Search the Forum keyword box; there's lots written here about them. Basically you feed your organics to earthworms and they digest it and produce lots of lovely worm castings for you. They would not handle the cold either, but you can do that indoors. I had a worm bin in my basement last winter and it did not produce any odors. (Neither does a properly working compost pile, but your container is not likely to be that... I have a closed container under my sink for collecting scraps and it can be at times kind of overpowering to open that lid!)

But the question is scale. If you have kitchen scraps and animal bedding, you are producing a pretty good quantity of compostables daily. And someone else will have to answer the question of whether the worms would tolerate the pee//poo soaked animal bedding; I only fed mine kitchen scraps. But anyway there is a limit to the quantity of stuff the worms can keep up with.

So the dilemma to me is you have a pretty large quantity of compostables and no where to put them. Are you sure there's not a little bit of outdoor space you could put a compost bin on? You can buy the commercial plastic bins that don't look bad in the landscape and some of them have a footprint as small as 30" square. Put one with the trash cans....
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weedfree
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Personally, and I hate to say this, I don't think composting is in the cards for an apt. dweller. Unless you really get a bang out of it, I would just get my soil from someone with a real compost bin.
It just isn't going to be a practical endeavor but life doesn't have to be practical so if you really like it .................

cynthia_h
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Au contraire, mon ami! :) Vermicomposting, in the homes of many apartment dwellers, is tailor-made for small spaces. I have experience with it, albeit not in an apartment.

A few people here at THG have experience with bokashi and aver that it can be used in apartments as well.

So don't dismiss the possibility of small-scale composting in apartments. :) Where there's a will, there's *always* a way!

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Bobberman
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If you can get a well balanced compost indoors that does not have a strong smell you will be doing good. I myself would like to see what is happening so I would use a aquarium with a cover. Remember the old ant farms where you could watch them! Worms may work a air rater set on a timer to come n a few minutes a day may help! Having a temperature gauge inside would show you how the mix s working! may be a interesting project even in a greenhouse!
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If put near a window a plant may even grow inside the compost mix! lots of possibilities away from the norm! you could even have clear jars with other exprmental mixes inside the composting aquarium. The small temp gages for aquariums could be in every jar. Its too early for this brain tension thinking!
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Bobberman
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I like the idea so much I amgoing to set up one in my greenhouse. I have several nice size aquariums and if any heat is given off I may set a flat on top for a seed starting heat pad! Everything starts with the first step!
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rainbowgardener
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Bobber - you always tell us your great ideas BEFORE you try them. Be sure to give us some follow up, to let us know what happens and how it works if you do try it... :)
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Bobberman
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I have made compost in small containers but never thought of using a aquarium or putting a temp gage inside! I will set one up in my 15 gallon this week near my sweat chamber! It will be interesting in seeing how the temp is effected during the change in temp in the greenhouse! I will use my new remote so I can read it at the house 100 feet away! I will just pt the remote in a sealed plastic bag inside the aquarium!
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Bobberman
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rainbowgardener wrote:Bobber - you always tell us your great ideas BEFORE you try them. Be sure to give us some follow up, to let us know what happens and how it works if you do try it... :)
I guess I am not the same old same old guy. Experimenting excites me and motivates me to do more differen things! Without creativeness amrica would not have led the world in food production!
+++
I think gardening and greehouses is a area that will have many improvements in the next few years and I may help make them!
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Garden_by_Faith
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If you were to do a worm compost in a rubber made tub would you need a good air supply? Drill holes into it? And wouldn't that make a mess in the area you're storing it in? I am curious to start one now indoors till winter/snow is over.

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rainbowgardener
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I did that last winter, worm bin in a rubber made bin. Yes you drill holes in the sides and bottom for air supply. The holes in the sides are near the top, so they don't leak anything. You set the tub in a tray (on feet so it is a little above the tray) so the leachate drips into the tray and doesn't make a mess.

Actually for the "tray" I just used the lid of a second tub.

Very neat, no odor, no mess. I kept mine in the basement. It is nice for the winter, not having to haul kitchen scraps out through the snow to dump on a frozen compost pile.
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Bobberman
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I was wondering about where the worms stay when the mix gets hot. Do you put the mix in the center and the worms eat there way to the center as the heat gets less intense .
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