Urban Kitchen Composting

Urban Kitchen CompostingMost of the world’s population now lives in an urban environment and the swelling urban regions are generating an ever-increasing amount of kitchen refuse.

Every day, millions of tons are being hauled away, buried or incinerated at considerable expense and energy expenditure. A few forward-thinking municipalities have set up a kitchen refuse collection system and are requiring kitchens (schools, restaurants) to comply with new regulations to have it hauled away in a separate waste stream. San Francisco, Providence R.I, and even Chevy Chase, MD have both mandatory and voluntary programs.

But if you’re a gardener, or have aspirations to improve a small plot of land or flower pots, why send it away? Compost these kitchen scraps on your property instead and have quality, rich in nutrient soil in a few months.

Green Blizzard has been experimenting with this for several years now, and we wish someone had given us the following advice. Keep it simple and sealed. You only need two devices to make it happen on a long-term basis and you’ll break-even on your investment in about two years. How? Well by never having to buy soil enrichment or plant fertilizer again.

Setting up an urban kitchen composting process is a simple two step, two component operations. You’ll see that it is incredibly simple and straightforward.

There are so many mind numbing articles and videos online belaboring details on how to compost. Regardless of you are living arrangement, you’ll be able to find uses for your compost “black gold” whether your outdoor space is as small as a window ledge, a spot on the fire escape, a small courtyard or patio, or a palatial spread equivalent to the Gone With The Wind movie set.

All you need are TWO types of containers.

First you need one air tight container to accumulate the kitchen scrapes until you can carry the container outside to dump into the second device a sealed, rotating barrel. Scooping the peelings in the container is the easy part and you’ll be surprised at how frequently (2 times a week) it fills and you have to empty into the outdoor device.

Notice these two key words to keep in mind when purchasing these two containers: Air-Tight (interior collection) and Sealed for the exterior, composting container. Fruit peels, veggie trimming, and coffee grounds start to stink real quick and if you mix this into an open pile of yard clippings, you’ll have a healthy, but a highly caffeinated colony of rodents. Trust us here at Green Blizzard, we’ve experienced it first hand. Rodents will find any free discard.

The best reasons to compost are that it saves you time, money, and will reduce your carbon footprint. The savings is realized in purchasing fewer trash bags, fertilizer, plant sprays, soil conditioner, and potting soil. Once collecting the scraps becomes a mindless habit, you’ll be on your way to less trash; putting out less for your town to haul away in diesel belching rumbling trucks; less demand for heavy machinery at the dump, less fuel needed to incinerate this gooey mess, and best of all, more “black gold” to feed your garden next year instead of buying bags of compost, plant food, fertilizer, soil conditioner that are typically hauled miles from distant farms or quite possibly your local landfill.

If your diet consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, you will soon have more compost than you initially imagined. That’s the first revelation – geez I toss out a lot of food scraps. When gathering your cooking scraps, be sure not to include any meats, plate scrapings, pet excrement, or any cooked food – no good. However, the occasional paper towel, handfuls of dryer link, vacuum bag contents are OK to include. Some resources say that raw meat scraps are fine, I personally avoid it. These kitchen scraps have to be mixed with dried brown compost at a ratio of 3:1, otherwise it will stay wet, mushy, and turns into a black glob.

The biggest surprise is how quickly your little inside kitchen container will fill and how much it weighs. My family of four generates 8-10 pounds of kitchen scraps weekly, with seasonal upticks during the late summer when melon, corn, and other bulky fresh food scraps are plentiful. I have a small compost bin behind a bush in the garden and am always amazed at how quickly it shrinks. After all, most of the mass of these scraps is water.

Interior Collection Container Options – These come all shapes, sizes, and price ranges.

Green Blizzard tested favorites are the Norpro 1 Gallon Ceramic Compost Keeper, Red, or the WHT Compost Keeper, or the Exaco Trading ECO-2000 2.4 Gallon Kitchen Compost Waste Collector

If styling is more important this ceramic crock is nicely decorated and does the same, just in a prettier way;Hand Painted Ceramic, Tuscany European Fruit Kitchen Compost Crock

Exterior Container

Critical Feature: Sealed, otherwise, your urban compost pile will turn into a foster home for pest. Open round containers are fine for yard trimmings, but not kitchen composting. It will work, but eventually, you’ll notice rodent activity. So avoid this from the kickoff and purchase this type of container either from Amazon, another online source, or your local garden store. It will soon pay for itself.


About the author

Eda North

Eda recently joined the Green Blizzard writing team and is our expert about how not to unknowingly expand your carbon footprint while gardening. With today's manicured lawn, dyed mulch, and highly fertilized gardens, our steams and waterways are choking with nitrogen and other chemical runoffs.