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Composting in the city

Posts: 252
Location: Nevada
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I have an apartment in Beijing now - one more year...I have a south facing balcony and want to know if I can do some kind of composting - most likely in some kind of container.  Odor is certainly an issue.  I make a vegetable juice every morning so have some of the pulp from that (I do use a lot of it in other food dishes).  I am going to be getting either a rabbit or guinea pig very soon, so the new pet is likely going to be making generous contributions to the cause.  I have table scraps, though many of the fresh fruits and vegetables will first be "processed" by my new pet.  My goal is to reduce my impact on the environment, as well as to make some nice compost for house plants.
Posts: 3105
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Hey Tom.

I have a Flemish Giant Rabbit, and my compost has never been happier. She free-ranges in our kitchen, and we let her out to explore and hang out in the rest of the apartment when we're home (she's still a rabbit, and loves to nibble furniture, shag carpeting, wires, spider plants and even leaves off of our avocado trees).

I love the rabbit manure because it can be applied directly. If you can get a sifter that lets the droppings through but retains the bedding, you could separate them out to some extent. We use a wadded paper bedding, new paper processed from the pulp paper waste stream, that the worms in my garden just eat up.

Incidentally, the high-carbon nature of the bedding portion can be a great benefit when adding high-nitrogen kitchen scraps, and if it lacks the nitrogen to get composting, all you need do is pee on it.

I have a ground-connected composter in the backyard of the flat I rent, along with a nice, though shady, raised bed, but I have thought about how I would deal with my rabbit's litter in close-quarters short of throwing it out, and I think I would use the largest drum-composter, one of those that are mounted on a frame to allow it to turn easily, that I could fit in the space available, and I would make the hottest compost there as I could, perhaps keeping sealed buckets of overflow scraps to add at need, as the one thing you won't be short of is carbon.

To this I would add at least one planter or large pot that would primarily act as a vermiculture bin, with perhaps squash, courgette, or other heavy-feeding fruit-producer living in it. The resultant worm castings could be harvested at need, to make room for the next finished hot compost contribution.

But this is highly dependent on space, and whether or not you can get a composting worm there.

I think the other obvious choice is to see if bokashi will work in your case.

But keep us updated, and good luck.

Posts: 554
Location: South of Capricorn
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I have a bokashi bucket, which is closed and really only generates any smell when you drain off the liquid (which you can use as fertilizer) or empty/bury it. I have seen people take the bucket contents, mix it 50-50 with dirt, and then use that as potting mix. I think that may take a long time, so I'm not sure about how effective that may be unless you have someone you can "gift" the bucket contents to- burying in an urban garden and then planting on top of it in a fortnight would be optimal.

I also have rabbits, which eat most of my veg scraps-- compost was an ongoing problem for me for a variety of reasons (space, lack of browns, etc) and now between the bunnies and the bokashi it is all sorted.
Posts: 6251
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau Tom, Chris and Tereza have given some good choices for inner city composting, the Bokashi does have the opportunity to offend the olfactory sense but usually it is contained by the lid used to seal the air out.

If you get either, the rabbit or the cuy you have a ready to go composter, simply use their manure as you would any compost, no need to further process it unless you just want to.

there is also the option of creating a worm farm (a simple plastic tub will work, no need for fancy "worm bins") I use two bins stacked, the top one has 2mm holes covered by window screen material to keep the worms in the upper bin, the lower bin collects the excess water.

Posts: 68
Location: Northernmost California
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The method I have been using for many years now is what I call 'Mulch shakes' (or garden smoothies in current vernacular). I have a blender that I bought at a garage sale (50 cents!) where I put all my vegetable trimmings as I prepare meals. Basically anything that can go down a garbage disposal can be pureed in a blender. I even add banana peels, celery and asparagus by cutting these into 1/2" (>2mm.) pieces ACROSS the fiber grain. The blending action knocks down most of any odor that builds up and the resulting slurry can be blended directly into soil with a little hand garden cultivator ('claw'). I used to have problems with animals (raccoons/squirrels/skunks etc.) messing around in compost piles not to mention flies etc.. But there is no odor nor 'food' size pieces to attract anything. This method could be used by even apartment dwellers with container gardens on their porch/balcony.
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