Samantha, I started a compost bin on the deck of my apartment about 3 months ago. I was definitely concerned about smell, like you, especially considering I’ve got 3 neighbors in the immediate vicinity of my bin. It’s in a metal garbage can that I drilled a bunch of holes in, so it’s open to air and could definitely stink, but so far, it just smells "earthy".
Before starting mine I read a lot on composting, and most of the info I read said that smelly compost comes about because of either a lack of air/circulation, which produces anaerobic microbes that let out smells when they eat, or too much wet food. So basically if you make sure the pile doesn’t get too compacted and cover food scraps with enough dry leaves or other browns, it should be smell-free.
Good luck! I’ve definitely loved having fewer trash bags to pitch each week. :)
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Welcome! I’m Margaret Roach, a leading garden writer for 25 years—at ‘Martha Stewart Living,’ ‘Newsday,’ and in three books. I host a public-radio podcast; I also lecture, plus hold tours at my 2.3-acre Hudson Valley (NY) Zone 5B garden, and always say no to chemicals and yes to great plants.