At-home composting is a growing trend we're pleased to see catching on, but if you're a city dweller with limited space -- or are adverse to curious odors and creepy crawlers -- traditional composters probably aren't ideal. But don't give up on the quest to turn your scraps into nutrient rich soil! There are several indoor alternatives out there, like NatureMill's Metro automatic composter. This powered unit uses a minimal amount of electricity to heat and churn food, turning leftovers into compost in just a few weeks. We recently got our hands on one of these beauties and took it for a test run - check out our step-by-step account of the process ahead, and see if this composter lives up to all the hype!
STEP 1: Getting set up
Remove all of the contents from the shipping box and find a good spot in your home to keep your unit. You will need to be close to an electric outlet, so a kitchen counter may work well. Shipped along with the NatureMill Metro is a box of wood pellets and a package of baking soda. These will be used later to help in balancing your compost mix. When you plug in your unit you will hear a faint humming sound and see the LED indicator on the front light up.
STEP 2: Figure out what you can and cannot compost
Read over the included list of products that you can and cannot use in the composter. A top tip is to think GREEN and BROWN for things that can be composted indoors. “Green” items would mean fruits and veggie scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds,and even meat, poultry, and fish. Examples of “Brown” items are breads, pasta, grain, straw, and wood shavings. Things to avoid large amounts of acidic fruits (like lemons), and veggies that will produce strong odors like kale, mustard greens, and cabbage. Also stay away from paper, fibrous items like corn husks (they could cause a jam) and really hard items like peach pits. Unfortunately, you also cannot put compostable plates or utensils into the NatureMill.
STEP 3: Warming up your machine
Open the lid of top chamber and load it half full – about 5 cups worth. Add one scoop of saw dust pellets and 1 tbsp of baking soda in with the mix. Close the lid give the NatureMill some time to work its magic. The interior will heat up, and in about an hour you will hear mixing and churning in the upper chamber. The mixing will continue to happen every hours.
STEP 4: Add your scraps and let the machine work its magic
Continue to add Greens and Browns to the upper chamber, balancing the load with sawdust pellets and baking soda. In about 2-3 weeks press the “Transfer” button to dump composting food down to the lower chamber. To access the lower chamber, remove the panel on the front of the unit. This panel is made from Temperene, a recyclable material that resembles Styrofoam. Inside is a tray that can be pulled out, so that you can take your compost to your garden.
STEP 5: Remove your compost and feed your plants
About a week after the transfer, you can remove your compost and spread it in with your plants. During the week, the food will continue to compost while in the lower chamber.