This spring, my terrace garden is looking perky and vibrant and it’s all thanks to my kitchen garbage and some hungry worms.
When we moved into the city three years ago, I was disappointed there was no composting option, like the green-bin that was picked up bi-weekly in Everberg. Despite trying to use some of my kitchen scraps for soup stock, I was throwing away a lot of waste I used to be able to compost.
My terrace-gardening-guru, Gilbert, suggested setting up my own composting system, on my terrace. Although I was skeptical at first, I’m happy to say, after a full year’s cycle, it’s been a huge success.
The secret to my success was worms; a few dozen were donated from Gilbert’s own compost system. They munched their way through our kitchen scraps all winter and left me with a bumper crop of beautiful compost.
Here’s my system:
- I bought three plastic tubs at IKEA for about 30 euros total. Andrew drilled some air holes in the sides, bottom and lids (except for the top lid) so there is air circulation.
- The bottom tub has no holes and is used to catch the water run-off from the other two tubs. I used a couple of old flowerpots inside to stand the second tub on.
- The second tub is full of scraps (don’t use meat or anything cooked as it will smell and attract pests) and lined with occasional layers of newspaper to keep the bugs and smell down. I also toss old soil that has become pot-bound and drained of nutrients and mix that in for the worms to live in as well.
- The top tub is my ‘in-progress’ bin and is what I toss my scraps into. When the top tub is full, it’s time to move it to the bottom and take the compost from the bottom tub.
- I bought a small sifter from my garden centre so I can sift out any big chunks that haven’t broken down yet.
I could add more bins to the system if I wanted to but this is plenty for now.
I know what you’re thinking (because frankly I had all the same concerns before I started).
Doesn’t it take up a lot of space?
Not much actually. Here it is in a corner of my terrace. I keep it on the shady side so the worms don’t get too hot in the summer.
Doesn’t it smell and get buggy?
Nope, as long I make sure to add layers of paper or dry leaves occasionally there is no smell at all and the flies are kept to a minimum. If it starts getting buggy I just add a new layer of wet newspaper. The important thing is to use only un-cooked scraps and no meat or processed foods… unless you like rats that is.
Is it worth the effort?
It’s actually very little work. You don’t even really have to sift it if you don’t want too. I saved myself from buying bags of soil this year. And I feel better knowing I’m diverting some of my waste from the landfill. It’s win-win!
Are you up for the terrace composting challenge? I’d love to hear your success stories!