Going Green: Balcony Composting

Lately I’ve become very conscious of how much garbage my family produces on an every day basis. Unfortunately,  I’m not exactly the most ‘green’ person around. My kids wear regular Pampers diapers, I probably don’t watch how much water we use as much as I should, and up until now, my recycling wasn’t up to par. The thing is, I’ve heard lots of things about how recycling in Warsaw does not make sense, because all the garbage ends up in the same place. but it seems that our new building administrator is shaking things up a bit and is initiating a new recycling system, one that seems much more legitimate. This inspired me to get a few more bins at Ikea and start separating everything. By everything, I mean everything, including  organic material…meaning I decided to start composting.

Compost

When I told friends and family about starting a compost on our tiny apartment balcony, they looked at me like I’m crazy. ‘Why?’ is the first thing most people asked. The truth is that I was on a roll. If we’re going to separate plastics and glass, why not go all the way and make amazingly rich soil for our herbs out of our organic waste? And so commenced my internet research on the subject. It seemed that composting on balconies is actually a fairly popular idea, and one that seemed simple enough.

For the setup, I bought two large plastic containers from Ikea (only one lid) and drilled holes on the bottom of one of them, as well as the lid.The holes on the bottom of one of the containers are for draining, which is really important in composting. The holes on the lid are also important, oxygen is needed for the magic to happen. If you don’t have small children or pets, you can do without the lid.

I placed the perforated container inside the other one,  allowing me to pull it out and pour out the drainage from the bottom. To keep it the compost from smelling, I used a layering system. Organic material, leaves/grass, and soil. You can just keep adding layer upon layer after collecting some organic waste for a few days. The dead leaves, grass, or sticks, are also important because they provide the nitrogen which is also important in composting. I also pour some water over the concoction on a daily basis, and pour out what drains out in the evenings.

And voila! My compost is up and running. I have now filled it up to the brim and am waiting for it to turn to soil. Unbelievably it does not smell one bit, because of the layering system (although the drainage does, but I just flush that away in the toilet). I’ve read that banana peels and lemon/orange/grapefruit rinds prolong the process because of the chemicals in them. I threw them in any way because I’m not in any rush, and we eat lots of bananas, use lots of lemons on a weekly basis. My daughter Kaya loves the process, and helps me pour water over the compost daily.

Remember not to throw any animal products into your compost (except egg shells, which are ok), and that you can include your toilet rolls, egg crates (as long as you tear them up), and any kind of paper (that isn’t glossy).

If anyone else has any tips on the process, please comment, I am a first-timer!

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