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1 month into balcony composting

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1 month into balcony composting

Post  JenniPC on 10/11/2015, 11:01 am




So I was inspired to start composting to prep for my first SFG. I started with a youtube video about balcony composting that called for a plastic bucket to put holes in. This is what things are looking like a month in. The compost definitely stinks. It's a bit sludgy/mucky when it gets turned. Is that normal? Does it need anything (more browns? just more content).

This lil bucket is also basically full now. I've read things about "3x3" but am confused about the importance. Do you need to have 3x3 of compost before it starts "cooking"? Does having a container that is 3x3 what is necessary and it doesn't matter how much compost you have? The youtube video I started with did mention volume would be an issue. In any case, just looking into what kind of container I should transition to and want to make sure I understand  things a lil better.

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Re: 1 month into balcony composting

Post  sanderson on 10/11/2015, 12:02 pm

Jenni, Did you mean 3 feet x 3 feet? There are different ways to compost, from a bucket or a large cage or a giant pile that can take a couple years of slow composting. Also, it can take a few tries to get any method to work optimally. I admire you for your balcony gardening efforts.

I hope some one who bucket composts can help you. It looks a little wet and mucky after 1 month. Probably needed more browns / less moisture??

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Re: 1 month into balcony composting

Post  JenniPC on 10/11/2015, 12:08 pm

@sanderson wrote:Jenni,  Did you mean 3 feet x 3 feet?  
 Hi Sanderson!

Yes I meant 3 feet x 3 feet.

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Re: 1 month into balcony composting

Post  Scorpio Rising on 10/11/2015, 5:20 pm

Are you putting the lid on tightly? Are there aeration holes in the container?

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Re: 1 month into balcony composting

Post  jimmy cee on 10/11/2015, 9:37 pm

It shouldn't stink, or be sludgy / mucky. It may get warm, however never reach the temps of larger compost piles. Even tumblers wont get hot, warm yes, enough to steam a bit in cooler weather.
A tendency to maintain to much moisture happens in smaller units, add some straw, preferably cut up in small pieces with a scissor.
Keep everything as small as you can.  Maybe consider a small tumbler that fits on your balcony...that would be fun.
Pieces of brown shopping bags, cardboard egg cartons, shredded newspaper, etc.
Your material looks like good potential, just dry it out a bit.with small amounts of browns.
Here's a great book that shows a lot. 

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Re: 1 month into balcony composting

Post  CitizenKate on 10/11/2015, 9:47 pm

The first composting I ever did was in a 5-gallon bucket, and it didn't take much at all to get it cooking.

I added brown/green materials at a ratio by volume of about 2:1, kept it moderately moist - no pooled liquid - and stirred it up at least once a week to keep it aerated.  To let air in, I kept the lid propped a little ways open.  This produced a very nice batch of compost.

It should not smell at all if it has the right balance of brown/green material and the right moisture.  Mine just smelled like dirt most of the time.

If it's sludgy or stinky, it may just be too wet and not getting stirred up enough.  (Not getting enough oxygen in the mix.)  Try adding something dry and stir it up good.


Last edited by CitizenKate on 10/11/2015, 9:52 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: 1 month into balcony composting

Post  yolos on 10/11/2015, 9:49 pm

@sanderson wrote:It looks a little wet and mucky after 1 month.  Probably needed more browns / less moisture??
I do not compost in a bucket, but if one of my bins (3 x 3 and 4 x 4) gets too wet or stinky, I do one or more of the following. - Add browns (leaves, cardboard, paper towels, newspaper etc) these will soak up some moisture.  I also leave the cover off my bin and let some moisture evaporate.  Turn it or stir it up to expose more of the wet places to the outside air (assuming you do not have a fly or other insect problem).  Also, make sure that rain is not sitting in the concave at the top and entering the bucket thru the holes you have drilled in the top.

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Re: 1 month into balcony composting

Post  JenniPC on 10/12/2015, 5:54 am

Thanks for the tips so far! 

I do have holes I drilled into the bucket...all over it. I have been keeping the lid on to try to keep vermin out. The flies definitely get into it. I think I can look into keeping the lid loose or covered differently so less moisture is trapped. Will be adding more browns and seeing how things go.

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Re: 1 month into balcony composting

Post  jimmy cee on 10/12/2015, 8:49 am

@JenniPC wrote:Thanks for the tips so far! 

I do have holes I drilled into the bucket...all over it. I have been keeping the lid on to try to keep vermin out. The flies definitely get into it. I think I can look into keeping the lid loose or covered differently so less moisture is trapped. Will be adding more browns and seeing how things go.
Drill more holes around the bucket, then cover with a screen material that will keep all but those no-seeums out.

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Re: 1 month into balcony composting

Post  Zmoore on 10/12/2015, 10:43 am

My 2 cents.
I think the adding browns as already suggested will probably do it and you've indicated you already have holes all around, which I assume means top sides and bottom.  
What you described as your problem indicates your compost is going.. anaerobic, generally too much water, too little air, or some combination of the two.  There's also a potential bacteria issue where if you have too much "green"(nitrogen) stuff and not enough "brown"(carbon) stuff the bacteria you want active has plenty of nitrogen for energy to get going, but not enough carbon for sustainability.  Kind of like me and you on a sugar diet, sure it'll give us a great boost of energy to start, but if we don't get some real "substance" we run out of "gas" soon and.. crash.
Anyway the browns help balance the food for the bacteria AND it makes the material... "fluffy"?  Ummm, "greens" alone are generally wet and will tend to clump and mat (restricting air flow), things like leaves and straw will help keep the greens distributed and they tend to be dry to start, looser, allowing more air to pass through the mass.
Anyway, I saw a balcony bucket video and if your using the "bucket inside a bucket" method so the outside bucket can catch any messy drippings from the compost.  Add some holes in the outside bucket as well.  At a point between the bottom of the outside bucket and the bottom of the inside bucket, basically leaving some room in the bottom of the outside bucket to catch drippings in the very bottom.  This will help allow air inside to the bottom of your bucket with the compost and air can then pass up through the mass and out the top.  "Theoretically" Wink as your compost heats up, hot air rises up through the top and as it does it will suck in new air from the bottom.  
Last and probably not a major help, paint your bucket black.  Might help absorb more heat from sun.

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Re: 1 month into balcony composting

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