There are lots of good reasons to compost. Save money, save resources, improve your soil and reduce your impact on the environment. Regardless of your reasons, composting is a win/win scenario. Good for you and good for the environment.
Adding compost to your apartment or balcony garden will not only fertilise, it actually feeds your soil with a diversity of nutrients and microorganisms that will improve plant growth.
Chemical fertilisers, on the other hand, provide a quick burst of a limited number of nutrients that can wash away into our rivers and streams. Compost also increases soil stability, improves drainage and helps retain moisture.
By composting you complete the cycle by returning what you grow back to the soil to help you grow!
While composting is a great way to add soil to your backyard plants, many of us live in an apartment where a yard or access to additional space is limited. For those in an apartment, follow these simple steps to successfully compost your food and plant waste.
Composting can be achieved through Worm Bins, Compost bins and Bokashi Kitchen bins.
There are many ready-to-use compost worm farm systems available on the market which require little preparation. Just Google "Compost Worm Farms" or make your own. Get hold of a plastic container. In order to allow ventilation and drainage, create holes in both the top and bottom of your container. Be sure to place a deep tray under this system to catch the "leachate" (worm wee). Place it on some pot feet or small blocks to all drainage from the bottom.
Add strips of paper soaked in water and place on the bottom of the container. Layer about ⅓ of the container with the paper strips. This will be the start of your compost pile. Be sure to place a deep tray under this system to catch the "leachate" (worm wee)
Then add worms, followed by your food scraps. Find a home for your compost bin! Preferably somewhere with not too much sunlight, such as the corner of a balcony or entryway.
Continue this process making sure to scoop out compost once there is more soil than scraps into a smaller plastic container for distribution and start again! You can also stack containers on top of one another, as long as you create the holes on both the top and bottom. You can give this soil as a gift, use it for small indoor plants or sprinkle it on your lawn.
On my Instagram and Facebook pages I have demonstrated several times my various composting systems used at Up On The Rooftop Balcony. Do take a look and don't let living in a small space deter you from making your own compost through your own household waste. Neighbours are often only too happy to donate their scraps to you too!
On the Balcony, I use the HungryBin Worm farm system.
There are many different types available on the market of varying sizes. You will need to select the type and size that is manageable in your situation. I'm fortunate up here on our oversized Balcony to have an area where I have a few different methods working concurrently, the worm farm concept I have already mentioned and I use the Jora " Little Pig" a compact tumbler bin.
You can easily construct your own compost bin using a garbage bin drilled with holes which is a method I have set up in the workspace Balcony area as well (yes, I have a lot going on!).
The bokashi bin is a Japanese system that pickles your waste (bokashi means fermentation) and is perfectly suited to small spaces. You need two bins (they can be kept indoors) and special bran inoculated with good bacteria. In goes all your cooked and uncooked kitchen waste and a sprinkle of the magic bran.
Personally I have not needed to use the Bokashi method as I have the worm bin and compost bin systems. Do note that after the final stage of the Bokashi method, it is necessary to still add the mix to compost or soil for it to further break down - it is too rich in that state to use as compost.
I have this great resource "How to Make Potting Mix Guide" which will walk you through the easy to obtain ingredients to make superb potting mix AND amend your garden patch with! Homemade compost is a key ingredient, (however, alternatives are suggested if compost is not available).