Ryan writes about his balcony garden and how it benefitted from the composting methods in Compost Everything:
Read 94.2% of your books and love your blog and media. I grow in apartments (containers) in 7b NC. I’ve adapted what I learned over 3 years and figured I’d share my version of the container melon pit!
I struggle with heat in NC from direct sun on containers and evaporation, but humidity is a problem here as well so I use grow bags. I line them with cardboard for water retention and a heat shield (photo one) and fill the bottom few inches with plant debris for drainage/I have to get rid of it somehow.
I then fill the bottom 1/3-1/2 with kind of finished compost and soil layers (photo 2).
I live in a balcony and like to compost as much as possible so I keep a 5 gallon bucket lukewarm composter churning. This idea is from your melon pit concept! I needed to use this not hot compost given my space constraints.
Then I top with soil and 2-3 inches of mulch to help with water retention (photo 3/4)!
And mushrooms grow sometimes which is cool. Much of this breaks down over the season it’s fun to watch the soil change. I will remulch as needed.
This method helped me grow monster tomato plants last year (>7’ tall) and support herbs or flowers in the pots as well. The cardboard will be 90% gone by the end of summer, it gets inundated with roots.
Hopefully you enjoyed seeing these photos! You’re a big inspiration. Last one is a balcony shot from last year in the early summer of my old 3rd floor place in 2021. Watermelons and cucumbers eventually took over the banisters :).
Thank you, Ryan – that is a beautiful garden.
I love the escaping tomatoes on the left.
This is definitely a “grow where you’re planted” situation. For a while I had a porch garden but it wasn’t nearly as beautiful as this one. Renting can be tough on gardens, but Ryan has made the best of it.
We’ve used a similar container method for pots – especially bigger pots – for a long time. Stuff material in the bottom, then put some soil over it. Plants love it!
I’ve written more on balcony gardening here.
And you can see a larger-scale composting in containers method in this video:
Wherever you live, you’ll find more compost ideas in Compost Everything: The Good Guide to Extreme Composting.
The share button at the top doesn’t work for me
Anyone else having this problem or is it just my phone?
I don’t even see a “share” button.
Share button doesn’t work, but the vertical ellipses share does.
That’s what I call making the most of a porch space. I feel like that garden is occupying the ecological niche that is normally filled by tall fruit trees. Can’t you just see the neighborhood kids gathered under that balcony, trying to scale the wall, or throwing sticks at the escaping tomatoes trying to get them to fall?