No matter what your approach, you've got to put the stuff somewhere. You have two options: indoor composting or outdoor composting.

You may not have a yard, but don't let that stop you from composting your kitchen scraps. Vermicomposting (that is, using live worms -- yes, worms -- in a little bin to create compost) is actually less work than outdoor composting; there's less mess to deal with, and you get easy-to-care-for pets. Here's how to set up an indoor compost bin:

  • Most of the standard composting guidelines apply, except you'll need to have a good place inside to put the bin. A storage closet or kitchen cabinet is fine, as long as the temperature there stays between 40 and 90, with 60 to 70 being optimal.

  • You can use one of those big-lidded plastic storage containers as a compost bin, as long as it's around two square feet big and at least eight inches deep.

  • Punch holes in the bottom for drainage, then elevate it over some sort of tray to catch the leakage.

  • To keep the worms and stuff from falling through the drain holes, cover the bottom with some type of sturdy screen like fiberglass cloth.

  • To properly fill your bin, fill it halfway with worm bedding made from moistened browns like dead leaves or shredded newspaper.

  • As you add kitchen scraps, always make sure there's a good bit more bedding browns than scraps, or it'll get stinky and won't aerate correctly.

  • Now for the worms. You can get brandling worms or red worms (also called "red wigglers") at bait shops and some nurseries (that is, garden nurseries, not baby nurseries). These worms are special types of earthworms that love to eat your kitchen scraps. Earthworms from your yard will not work, so don't try it.

  • To start a bin, buy about two pounds of the squirmy critters and dump them on the top of the bedding.

  • At first, stuff your kitchen scraps underneath the bedding until the bin gets established.

  • After several weeks, you can start just digging a hole and burying the scraps in the activated compost/bedding to keep away smells and flies.

  • Keep the lid of the bin ajar to ventilate but hold in moisture. If it gets too soggy, take the lid off completely. Too dry, wet it down with a spray mister.

  • You don't have to keep a worm bin all stirred up like you do an outdoor bin, but you should stir it around with a plastic spoon on occasion to keep the mulch loosened up.

  • Once the compost is done, you can keep your newfound worm friends by piling everything to one side of the bin and starting some fresh bedding and food scraps on the other side. After a couple weeks, most of the worms will have migrated to the new digs, and you can remove the compost for use.