Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Balcony Gardening - Compost

Balcony Gardening - Compost

The compost bin with holes drilled in the side

A few months ago I decided to make a compost bin for the balcony and last weekend I opened it up to see how it had done and to start using the soil created. The balcony compost bin setup I used was an old used rubbish bin with lid. Rubbish bins generally don't have holes in them as they are designed not to leak so this was the first step. I drilled lots of holes into all the sides and the base for drainage and aeration to assist in decomposing the materials added to the bin. These are very important aspects to a good compost heap. Without drainage and aeration you will end up with a very smelly anaerobic compost heap or bin. On a balcony you do not want this and nor do your neighbours! In the base of the bin I placed some branches about 50 to 100 mm deep with a piece of fly screen mesh over the top. This helps with drainage in the base of the compost. I then placed some old potting mix as a bed over the top to of the fly screen.

Compost in Bin - Broken egg shells visible
The kitchen scraps can now be added. I normally collect them in a container in the kitchen first for a few days and then put them in the compost. Each time the kitchen scraps are placed in the compost bin cover with some old potting mix or other organic material. If using old potting mix keep it moist when stored. The old potting mix has bugs and other bacteria which helps break the scraps down. Soil from the garden would also work as long as its free draining. Clay soils may prevent the bin from draining or aerating. The bin will attract some small flies and bugs but doesn't smell. I got a few months out it before I had to stop and allow it to sit and break down. This weekend I opened it up to find lovely dark compost.

Some of the compost spread around the existing pots.

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