How To Compost On a Balcony - Backyard Boss
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How To Compost On a Balcony

Composting is the process of recycling organic matter, such as kitchen waste and leftovers, into a rich fertilizer for growing plants. Generally, every organic matter decomposes eventually. If given enough time, composting only speeds up the process and allows you to bring the benefits of compost to your garden. 

Many gardeners think that it’s impossible to compost on a balcony, but that’s far from the truth. Depending on the size of your compost bin or container, you can learn how to compost even if you have little space to spare on your balcony. 

There are many benefits of composting for your garden, but most importantly, it’ll help improve your soil structure for improved plant health.

What You Will Need To Follow This Tutorial

1. Organic Matter

It includes kitchen waste such as vegetable peelings, fruit waste, seeds, tea bags, eggshells, etc. It can also include rotten raw or cooked foods, wet or dry leaves, grass, and twigs. Avoid including dairy products if you are concerned about smell.

2. Container with a lid

You would use it to hold the compost pile. The container’s size would depend on how much kitchen waste you want to use for composting. Also, it would be best if you drilled holes at the bottom of the container to drain water from the organic waste. If you don’t have a compost bin, you can make an indoor compost bin to start generating black gold for your garden.

3. Saucer / Plate

You would place this under the container to hold the water dripping from the waste and keep your balcony clean.

How To Start Composting On Your Balcony

Step 1: Lay A Good Foundation

creating a compost bin
Image Credit: Tim Musson via Creative Commons

Set up your container and saucer to allow liquid to drip easily from underneath the container to the saucer. It would be best to place the container on an elevated platform while you should put the saucer or plate on the floor. Once a certain amount of liquid has been collected, you should take out the saucer and empty it.

Since liquid will drip out of the container for most of the composting process, you would need a spare saucer to replace the main saucer whenever you want to dispose of its content so that you would protect the balcony floor at all times.

Step 2: Gather The Organic Matter

adding kitchen scraps to compost bin
Image Credit: Tim Musson via Creative Commons

Gather all the kitchen waste material you want to use to make the compost and put it into the container. It would be easier if you planned earlier for it by providing a separate bin and informing everyone in your house about the kinds of organic waste that you want to use in making compost. 

The organic waste you gather for the compost should be a cocktail featuring moist and dry high-protein and carbohydrate-rich substances. Here’s a list of things you should never put in your compost bin.

Step 3: Help Bacteria Grow

misting and bedding compost bin
Image Credit: Tim Musson via Creative Commons

To make compost, you must encourage bacteria growth in the organic waste. Bacteria need food, water, and oxygen to thrive like every living thing. The organic waste you put together serves as food for bacteria, while the holes you drilled on the container would provide the ventilation required.

You can spray or mist some water into the mixture to aid bacteria growth. Remember, add water only in moderate quantities.

Step 4: Sealing the Smell

sealing compost bin smell
Image Credit: Tim Musson via Creative Commons

Once you are satisfied with the amount of organic waste and water you have added, you can cover the compost container with its lid or leave it open. We recommend you cover your compost bin to prevent kids, pets, or pests from interfering with the bacteria’s job of creating black gold.

If your compost bin contains meats, dairy, and oils, it emits a strong unpleasant smell that could attract pests and rodents.

Step 5: Let Time Take Care Of Everything Else

composting the right way
Image Credit: Tim Musson via Creative Commons

Leave the waste and allow composting to set in. Typically, the waste will be composted gradually after a couple of weeks. In the meantime, you could speed things up by stirring the pile every week to disperse air into the pile. You may also need to add a little water to keep it moist whenever it dries up.

It can take up to 2 months or more to make finished compost. The more attention you give the pile in turning it and maintaining proper moisture, the faster it breaks down.

Step 6: Harvest The Compost

composting on balcony
Image Credit: normanack via Creative Commons

When the compost looks more like soil than debris, it is time to “harvest” it, as it is ready for use. The color of the compost would be dark brown, while the smell should be somewhat earthy. It is normal to find and recognize some coarse materials, such as shells, in the compost.

In such situations, you can use the compost or get a sifting tool to sift the compost and separate the coarse materials.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are twigs, eggshells, and leaves composted?

Yes! Coarse materials, such as twigs, leaves, and eggshells, will compost faster if you shred them before adding them to the waste pile.

2. Can eggs, meat, fish, and dairy be added to the compost bin?

Eggs, meat, fish, and dairy products (e.g., butter, milk, yogurt) would attract pets and pests. It would also cause the compost to stink. It would be best to avoid adding them to your organic waste.

3. How to fix too much water in the compost bin?

If you mistakingly add too much water to the mixture, you can leave the container open for a while and drill more holes to drain the water. It would take your wet compost a couple of hours to drain water, depending on the number of holes in the container.

4. Where to place your compost bin on the balcony?

Although your compost bin and the bacteria and fungi that live within love to be under full sun, the contents of your bin will quickly dry up. Full sun increases the temperature of your compost bin, making it a suitable environment for bacteria and fungus, but to ensure it doesn’t dry out, water it occasionally.

If your balcony receives direct sunlight and you’re sure you won’t be around to water frequently, shade the bin with an umbrella or tarp to avoid direct sunlight from “baking” your compost bin contents.

5. How to increase compost?

When the organic waste starts decomposing, its volume shrinks. If you want to increase the compost, you can add fresh organic waste. It would be best only to do that a few times and then allow the pile to break down completely.

In Summary

Your compost should be ready in a couple of months if you follow all the steps outlined in this tutorial. There are various ways to use your finished compost, including using it as a layer of mulch around plants in your garden, mixing it into your soil beds before adding plants, etc. It’s important to learn how to revive old compost if you need to store some for future use.

Lastly, don’t forget to clean your compost bin thoroughly before starting the process again. Did you know you can compost even during winters? Composting is truly the best way to honor your garden and give it the much-needed TLC it deserves!

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