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I want to start composting after a few failed attempts at vermicomposting indoors (I didn't have a balcony or any access to land back then). I have a rather large apartment balcony and I think I could easily do composting on the scale of a large Rubbermaid bin.

What is the best container to compost in? I have Rubbermaid bins, if something like that works, would I have to drill holes in it? Do I keep a lid on or off?

When the bin fills up, how long does it take to compost fully? In that time period, should I add anything to the bin or just leave it alone?

Do I need to do anything to "start" the composting process or just start chucking in veggie scraps, etc?

Are there any odor issues I would have to worry about? How can I minimize odors?

Because I don't have any land (leaves, shrubs, tree branches) I'm not sure how to incorporate enough brown into my greens. What can I do to ensure I have an adequate mix? (I do have a wood burning fireplace which produces wood ash, not sure if I can add that or if it is a "brown".)

Are there special considerations to take into account each season? I live in Chicagoland which means winters are quite cold and summers quite hot.

  • You mentioned your earlier attempts at vermicomposting failed, why exactly did they fail? And do you want to do composting with or without worms this time? – THelper Feb 1 '13 at 10:15
  • @donschoe, I checked out that question before posting mine. It doesn't address the questions that I'm asking here. – lemontwist Feb 1 '13 at 11:05
  • @THelper, that's kind of a long answer. My worms always died. I really don't want to try that again, and I'm worried that worms will die when it goes down to 0F like it seems to routinely do here in the winter. (If I can manage to keep them alive in the first place, which I don't believe I can.) – lemontwist Feb 1 '13 at 11:06
  • I edited the title of my question. I'm not asking if it's feasible to compost on my balcony - I know that it is, and I know what method of composting that I want to use (i.e. not worms and not Bokashi). I am asking how do I get started. This is not at all addressed in the other question. – lemontwist Feb 2 '13 at 19:42
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    Go ahead and write each question up as a separate entry on the site. – Jay Bazuzi Feb 4 '13 at 5:26