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.