Hi! I have a question ... #178093 - Ask Extension


Hi! I have a question ... #178093

Asked April 29, 2014, 3:42 PM EDT

Hi! I have a question about composting in the city. I live right in the city of Baltimore in a rowhouse, this means urban living, close quarters to neighbors and your usual city pests (rats, feral cats in the alley behind us, bugs etc.) I have asked several local "experts" including a couple different Master Gardeners at gardening events but have not gotten an answer that applies to composting in an urban, small backyard. I'd estimate my backyard to be 15ft wide x 40 feet long. Each person I've asked has tried to be helpful but all their answers were applicable to large properties, suburban or rural yards. Is there a way to safely create a compost box/can/etc. in my small urban backyard that will not cause urban critters (rats, cats, gross bugs) to be drawn to it and cause issues to our property or our neighbors?? Are you able to recommend an appropriate urban composting technique or product for this sort of situation? I have much trouble locating any real options for my situation when it comes to creating a compost box. We have a healthy, well-producing garden in our yard and it would be great to be able to make out own compost! Thanks for your help!!

Baltimore City County Maryland

Expert Response

Composting in an urban environment can be done but may take some persistence on your part. You will have to deny access to rodents and here are some ideas: 
You can use a metal trashcan and drill holes in the bottom, sides, and keep the lid on. You can  also use a tumbler type compost bin. Some counties have ordinances on composting prohibiting the use of kitchen scraps as it can attract rodents. Try composting  using yard waste and artificial nitrogen sources such as fertilizer (urea).
If you have a lot of kitchen scraps, you can try indoor redworm composting. See our publication http://extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_images/programs/hgic/Publications/HG40_Indoor_Redworm_...
and our publication on composting http://extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_images/programs/hgic/Publications/HG35_Backyard_Compos...

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