Last February, the garbage was piling up in Beirut’s streets and I had toyed with the idea of having a compost on my balcony for some time, so I decided to jump into action. I bought a 17.5 litre bucket with lid at the dollar store around the corner, gathered some cardboard, egg cartons, newspaper, a small stash of organic waste and a bag of soil from a construction site across the street which my grocer helped me acquire.
On February 13, I drilled holes in the bucket (bottom and below the rim) and filled it with three layers: shredded egg cartons and newspaper, organic waste and 2 scoops of soil. I knew the soil would be quite dead but I purposefully chose it since most Beirutis would have access to this kind of soil only. Then I closed the lid and waited…
The compost quickly attracted flies and small insects and began to smell very earthy – a nice smell, actually. I kept adding organic waste such as (organic) egg shells, orange rinds (not too many to avoid having a highly acidic compost), vegetables and fruit peels, and a few bits of leftover or rotten food. I left out tea bags (they usually are bleached with chloride) and banana peels (they are usually heavily fertilised). Oh, and hair! The girls in the house empty their brushes over the compost and the guys add bits of cut-off fringe.
After 3 weeks, the compost was three quarters full and appeared really healthy. I always add a bit of soil when the layer of organic stuff gets 3-4 cm thick. My permaculture network friend Alexis gave me some “live” microorganism-rich compost from the pile in his garden, which upgraded our compost from 2 to 4 stars, I reckon.
I’m planning to start a second compost in March, this time with worms (I will be borrowing books about this from another friend in our network, Wolfgang) to compare results.
Composting on my balcony turned out to be an easy thing to do and the amount of waste it reduced in a 4-person household was considerable.
If you feel inspired, yalla go ahead! This helpful link from my friend Rita helped me get started: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-make-your-own-indoor-co-138645