The Compost Is Still Going Strong!

While visiting Nate, I made sure to check in the compost we started back in March. I gave you an update in June, when the weather in Seattle was still chilly. Well, it’s now the end of September, and….

…it’s doing so well! There was no smell and no issues with pests or bugs all summer. Not even fruit flies. There is no discernible food bits anymore (that white blob on top is suet from the bird feeder that Nate recently added). The worms that we saw in June have multiplied (I think they’re red wigglers). They seem very happy. You can see a couple of the worms peaking out of the compost in the photo below:

Nate is now using the compost to top dress a couple of his potted plants. We also made sure to feed the worms with some more plant scraps. I guess you could say we’re vermicomposting.

A Balcony Compost Update

Back in May, I wrote about our experiment with apartment balcony composting. We mixed kitchen scraps, dried leaves, and some “starter” compost in a bucket on Nate’s balcony to see if it would turn into compost that we could use for our plants.

Here’s what we started with:

March 28, 2020

Here’s how it looked a month later:

May 4, 2020

And here’s how it looked yesterday:

June 17th, 2020

He has added some more cardboard and egg cartons to it (that’s the brown stuff sticking out at the bottom), just because he had them lying around. The orange peels and apple cores are gone, but some of the eggshells and leaves are still identifiable.

Nate would also like to report that, although he forgot to stir the compost for the last 2 or 3 weeks, there is still no smell. He also found a snail and a worm, in addition to several other bugs, in the compost. How a snail and a worm got to a 3rd floor apartment balcony is anyone’s guess.

So far, this experiment has been a great success, and I can’t wait to use this compost on some potted plants.

Composting on an Apartment Balcony

In honor of International Compost Awareness Week

… Welcome to a new series I’m going to call “Will It Compost?” (Think: “Will It Blend?” but more environmentally friendly).

About a month ago (March 28th, to be exact), Nate and I decided to embark on an experiment: Composting On An Apartment Balcony.

Nate has an apartment with a balcony and lots of hungry potted plants. So, he was game to try to make some compost to feed his plants.

Composting is really just organic matter decomposing. You don’t actually have to do anything to compost; it’s happening all the time. If not for composting we’d have landfills full of twigs, and leaves, and grass clipping. Can you imagine? The fancy gadgetery that is marketed for composting simply helps to speed up the process.

Nate and I don’t have any fancy composting gadgetery, but we’re composting anyway. We gathered our “greens” (kitchen scraps, eggshells, lots of orange peels) and our “browns” (dried leaves, cardboard scraps). The greens provide nitrogen and the browns provide carbon. You are supposed to have more browns than greens (more carbon than nitrogen). (If you want to go into the science of composting, Texas A&M and Cornell University have very comprehensive explanations.) Additionally, we got a little bit of finished compost, which I thought might be helpful as an inoculant, introducing beneficial microbes, and speeding up the process.

We used the biggest pot we had — I’m not sure of the exact measurements of this one, but I’d estimate that it’s about a 25-gallon-sized pot.

And then we layered the greens and browns in the pot along with the finished compost.

Browns (leaves)

Finished Compost

Greens (Kitchen scraps, including orange peels and eggshells)

More Browns (leaves, shredded egg carton)

More Finished Compost

More Greens

Last Layer of Browns

And that’s it. We left it on the balcony.

Nate gives it a stir every 5 days or so and gives it some water if its looking dry. And that’s it.

Here’s how its looking now:

Surprisingly, it seems to be working out well. The orange peels and apple cores have become completely unrecognizable. The eggshells are still identifiable, though. Nate says he doesn’t notice any smell. It almost seems too easy — there must be a catch, right? Any guesses as to how long we’ll have to wait until its ready to use? Or will his balcony be infested by rats and flies first?