As you may know I live in a condo and don’t have a lot of space to work with but I still like to start an outdoor compost in the warmer months.
It’s unlikely that the worms will make it through the winter in Toronto and I don’t bring in the bin in the winter because it could bring in outdoor pests so it’s a bit of a kamikaze mission for the worms but not much worse than their usual life outdoors I tell myself…
My outdoor bin is just a recycling green bin with a few holes at the bottom and wheels for easy mobility, awesome! I had originally planned to use this as a planter for potatoes, hence the holes at the bottom. Had I know it’d be a worm compost I’d probably skip the bottom holes, and used a spout instead to avoid dripping onto the balcony. To compensate for this since compost liquid can be a bit smelly, I add a good layer of soil (about a foot) and then lots of newspaper bedding to absorb the liquid before it drips out.
I should also mention that if you’re using plastic, some plastics are better than others if you plan on growing food in the bin. This is more important for an outdoor bin because it’ll most likely get a lot of sun exposure which can break down the plastic and allow chemicals to leech into the soil and potentially your food.
All plastic should have a rating, it’ll be a little triangle with a number in the center. It’s usually found on the bottom of the container but in this case it was on the underside of the lid.
1, 2, 4, and 5 are considered safer than 3, 6, and 7 which should be avoided. You can try to avoid plastic all together but personally, for a balcony garden, I think plastic is a necessary evil. It’s more affordable, lighter, lasts longer, retains water better, and survives the winter better than wood, metal, terra cotta, or any other material I’ve seen but I’m open to suggestions if anyone has any?
So far I’ve found an outdoor bin much dryer than an indoor bin. It could also be because I just leave the lid slightly ajar instead of drilling air holes at the top. I regularly out wet newspaper on top to prevent the top from drying out. Whereas with my indoor bin I regularly add dry newspaper to prevent the bin from getting too wet.
This newspaper was wet yesterday…
It’s a lazy compost bin but it seems to work.
I started the bin to handle outdoor waste from my garden, cuttings, old plants, etc. the plan is to fill it with compost about 2/3 the way up, then top with soil and plant plants in the late summer. If I fill it quickly I may even try two bins and just transfer some of the worms to a new bin when this one gets full.
I’ve read that as things decompose it gives off heat so planting on top of a compost can help keep plants warm as the weather gets colder.
And since this container has a lid, I may even close it off in the night in the fall or cover with a clear plastic cover.
Plus during gardening season I can never have too much compost!
My indoor bin still does its thing and next spring, I’ll add some into another outdoor bin and start all over again.