If you can have a prosperous garden growing out of your tiny 5x5ft balcony, then you may as well have a balcony compost. Composting in an apartment balcony is very much a reality that is being executed by enthusiastic gardeners around the world. The lack of space hasn’t deterred those seeking urban sufficiency. In fact, forest apartments are fast becoming a trend in major cities across the world.
Composting is the process of turning organic matter into manure for plants. The final product of composting is humus-like organic fertilizer that improves plant produce. With gardeners raising the most exotic and difficult to raise plants in their balcony, their search for healthy manure for their plants is a constant need. Managing waste in an apartment is no joke. Most urban apartments are compact and waste build up is a serious problem in most kitchens. To get rid of waste while benefiting your garden is an irresistible opportunity many apartment gardeners are jumping at.
How to begin composting in your balcony
Composting in apartment takes little effort, a few materials, and a whole lot of patience. With the right materials, you can get started right away. Some of the must-have items to start composting are:
Composting containers can be plastic buckets, terracotta pots, traditional terracotta khambas, or any container from your home. The ideal balcony composting container is 3x3x3 feet, a dimension that promotes aeration and turning of compost. It would be good to have a few containers that you can rotate the compost from one to another during different stages of composting.
2. Leaves from your garden
Composting is a messy business and it shouldn’t end up becoming a problem for you or your neighbours. Composting can create foul odour that can be bothersome. The foul odour is a result of excessive nitrogen that is released during decomposition of organic waste matter. To prevent odour, you may need to frequently add a layer of garden waste like leaves and small twigs. The carbon of the garden waste balances out the nitrogen of the compost for an odour-free result.
The role of microbes in a compost is very important. One can purchase mircobe powders or starter kits available in stores to speed up composting. However, the simplest way to add good microbes to your compost is by adding a little curd to the container every day. The good bacteria in curd promote faster decomposition and produce healthier manure. However, remember that too much curd can attract pests and cause foul odour.
It is important to add garden soil to your compost every few days so the end result isn’t just mush. Add a couple handfuls of soil to your compost bin every day for the perfect compost.
Rakes and gloves are other miscellaneous items that would come handy when using your compost bin.
Ventilation and drainage: the two pillars of balcony composting Composting is an aerobic process, meaning the presence of air is essential through the process. So a compost container or bin with perforations is necessary to start composting. Ventilation allows for the microbes, and other organisms involved in the composting process to breathe and thrive.
Water and other liquid is an essential part of kitchen waste, so choose compost bins that allow drainage. Drainage helps create a final compost that is moist, but not wet, and healthy.
Foods that can go into the compost
You may be tempted to dump all kitchen waste into the compost bin, but that is not always a great idea. Your compost is an attractive target for pests, so what goes into your compost shouldn’t bring you trouble. So we’ve put together a list of items that are good for your DIY apartment compost and that aren’t.
|Yay for compost||Nay for compost|
|1. Manure of cows and goats||1. Wood chips, toothpicks and sawdust can take a long time to decompose|
|2. Paper and paper towels||2. Meat, whole eggs, fish can cause odour problems|
|3. Coffee grounds||3. Dairy products can attract pests|
|4. Filtered off tea||4. Oils and fats|
|5. Crushed eggshells (not eggs)||5. Garden waste treated with pesticides can affect microbes in the compost|
|6. Cooked food waste||6. Pet wastes|
|7. Kitchen vegetable and fruit peels||7. Ashes|
|8. Nut shells|
|9. Leaves and other garden waste|
|10. Washed seaweed without salt|
Why turn compost frequently
As you add new kitchen refuse to your compost bin every day, compost gets formed at the base of the bin. To speeden up the composting process and to allow for the compost material to stay balanced it is important to turn the compost every few days. Use a rake to mix the contents of your compost bin well for better aeration too.
Given that you allow your compost to process in the right conditions, you could be reaping manure in about 1.5 to 2 months.
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