The Simple Breakdowns of Composting

You don’t have to have a large garden or an expensive composter to turn your scraps into nutritious fertilizer; it’s easy and you can even do it in the smallest apartment. Here, Michelle, editor of Gardenista, clues us in to a few tips.

Above: The Brushed Stainless-Steel Compost Pail will minimize odors from food scraps and look sleek on the countertop; $29.95 from Williams-Sonoma.


Above: According to Michelle, you don’t have to get fancy when it comes to composting. She used to toss scraps into a mixing bowl on the countertop. Here, papery skins shucked from garlic and onions, as well as thyme stalks, sit in a glass container. Photograph by Patrick Barber.


Above: Although an open container works, Michelle still recommends one with a lid to keep flies at bay. This Enamel Storage Jar is a good choice because it easily wipes clean; £18.95 at Cookshop UK.


Above: For another compost pail option, we also like this heavy-duty galvanized, rust-proof model with a tight-fitting lid; $69.99 at


Above: If you don’t have outdoor space, you can install a compact, odor-free bin under the sink or in a corner of the kitchen. This stylish red DIY project was originally seen on Apartment Therapy.


Above: Lastly, if you are equipped with the right tools and design sense, making your own composter is ideal. This three-bin system by Ryan Boren allows you to segregate “green” and “brown” materials and then mix them in the third bin.

For more composting ideas, visit Gardenista’s posts Required Reading: The Edible Balcony and† A New World Composting Shed in Edinburgh.


susan k.
susan k5 years ago


Dana W.
Dana W5 years ago

I like the idea of composting in a small container but so far i just periodically bury my scraps in a hole in my flowerbed.

James Hager
James Hager5 years ago

good info to know, good read, thanks!!!

Janet L.
Janet L5 years ago

I am new to composting, and I'm having a great time. Watching over the decomposition process is kind of like being a kid again, what with the "ick" factor and all :)

Dale Overall

What about using a plastic container or does the plastic toxins leach into the compost and poison the soil? Anyone have ideas on this - although many of the recycling bins are black plastic ones.

Dominika Styczynska

It can stink, so you better not keep that container home. A balcony would be ok.

Michael Kirkby
.5 years ago

Thanks for the tip.

Sandi C.
Sandi C5 years ago


Mac C.
mac C5 years ago

We've been composting three years and it's amazing to see what we had been throwing away. Our tomatoes and other veggies really love it. Thanks for the article.

Rose B5 years ago

Love my compost bin