Talk dirty

My apartment complex doesn’t have a yard. Is there still a way for me to compost?

Of course. I have a thousand indoor pets right now, and they’ve all learned a nifty trick: When I say “fetch,” the little cuties chase after my old food scraps (banana peels, coffee grinds, bread crumbs), eat their weight in kitchen waste, then use the litter box. And all that nutrient-rich “litter” makes a fine batch of fertilizer in three months. My pets are red worms, or “Red Wrigglers,” and the process I speak of is vermicomposting.

Read the California Integrative Waste Management Board’s online worm-composting information at, to learn how you can connect with suppliers of worms and worm bins.

Or get DIY instructions for making your own worm bin from Drill tiny holes into the sides and lid of a plastic tub. Fill the bin with 6 inches of moist newspaper scraps (the consistency of a wrung-out sponge, about 50 percent water content ensures the worms’ survival), add worms and food, then top it off with 3 to 5 more inches of moist-but-wrung-out newspaper. After three months, move the bin’s contents to one side and fill the empty space with more moist-but-wrung-out newspaper and food scraps. Your obedient pets should move toward the new stuff. To make sure they’ve vacated the old half of the bin, place that half under direct light a few weeks later. Worms hate light, so they’ll burrow away from it. Then you can scoop out that old half of the compost bin and use it to fertilize potted or outdoor plants.