Balcony composting

Recycle, reduce, reuse.  All school children learn it, but until the garbage crisis hit Lebanon, it didn’t seem to be high on the list of priorities for many.  We’ve been recycling plastic and paper for a few years now, although we’ve lost trust in the company we were going through and still searching for a trustworthy alternative that doesn’t charge an arm and a leg and will actually recycle and not just throw it all in the trash.

Another way we’ve tried to be more environmentally friendly is through composting.  Even though we don’t have a yard, we’ve had a compost bin on our balcony for a few years, and it’s been so easy to maintain.  I love that we are cutting down on our waste and the surprise tomato plants that grew out of the soil we created were a fun, added bonus!

To get started with balcony composting, you first need to prepare your bin.  We use a large garbage pail.  Drill holes in the bottom and raise it up on a pallet or bricks.  Put a tray underneath to catch any extra drainage and you are ready to start filling your bin!
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Now you can start collecting your kitchen scraps.  We have a small container on the counter that we toss everything in.  Fruit and veggie peels, seeds and stems, coffee grounds and egg shells are what we most often fill our bin with.  You want to have a good mix of green (nitrogen) and brown (carbon) materials so your compost doesn’t smell and it is able to properly decompose.  Most kitchen scraps are green material, so we also add in cardboard egg cartons, shredded paper, the dried leaves our kids collect while walking and sometimes soil from our balcony plants.  The smaller your scraps, the quicker they will turn into compost.

IMG_8039We try to mix the compost every week or two, which exposes the mixture to air and speeds up the process.  You want your compost to be slightly wet but not a sopping. There will be bugs in your bin, but they are actually helping to speed things up!  In the summer, the process is pretty quick, but we’ve found when it gets cold it nearly stalls.  But keep at it and eventually you’ll have beautiful nutrient rich soil to start your own balcony garden!

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One thought on “Balcony composting

  1. This sounds like a great idea for my balcony. I hate putting those kitchen scraps in a plastic sack in the bin, it feels so wrong!
    About recycling paper, have you tried taking it to a printery or an old fashioned copy shop? We had one downstairs in Beirut and they had a van pick up their wastepaper on a regular basis. Perhaps you could add yours? When I attended an energy trade fair in Beirut a few years back, I learnt that in general there are companies that pay (small amounts) to collect recyclable waste from other businesses so long as there is a large quantity of it. If the business owner is not paying out, then they may be happy for you to piggyback their collection arrangement.

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