Starting your own vertical garden is a great way to bring a healthy variety of fresh, tasty, organic herbs and salad greens to your dinner table.
One of the best ways to ensure that your vertical garden produces a steady supply of crops is to keep your plants well fed, in nutrient rich soil, using compost. Compost is readily available from garden supply centers, however, it can also be easily produced, at a very low cost, right in your kitchen.
Compost is made using three simple ingredients:
Green material is any nitrogen-rich material (like egg shells, fruit or vegetable off-cuts and coffee grounds), as long as it’s neither greasy nor animal waste (meat or pet feces).
Brown material is any carbon-rich material like paper, sawdust, straw, sticks or twigs. You need to combine green and brown material in equal amounts for the perfect balance of carbon and nitrogen in the resulting compost.
Water is the final, key ingredient to making compost. The right amount of moisture will ensure a healthy balance of bacteria, which break down the organic matter, producing a rich, dark “soil”. You want your mixture of green and brown materials to remain damp (but not wet) at all times. Dry materials won’t break down and wet materials will become slimy, and encourage the growth of bad bacteria (which are responsible for foul smells).You’ll know that your ratio of these three ingredients is correct when your compost bin begins creating its own heat. This means that the good bacteria are thriving, and beginning to break down the materials in your compost bin.
For a vertical garden in your home, you won’t need huge amounts of compost - so you can make do with a small compost bin (which can fit comfortably beneath your kitchen sink). You can purchase your kitchen compost bin relatively cheaply online from sites like Amazon, for anywhere between $20 and $60, depending on size and style, however, making your own is more satisfying and will cost you as little as $2.
DIY kitchen compost bin
- An empty coffee tin (or any tin with a resealable lid)
- Charcoal filters (available from pet stores that sell kitty litter)
- A drill
- A ¼” drill bit
- A hot glue gun or super glue
Images sourced from DIY Natural
Be sure to turn the contents of your compost bins regularly (once or twice per week), and keep an eye on moisture and heat levels. It will take approximately a month to turn your kitchen waste into a nutrient-rich, dark compost that’s ready to nourish your plants.
You can build as many compost tins as you like, depending on how much compost you need for your green wall. The charcoal filter neutralizes the smell, ensuring that you don’t have any unwanted odors in your kitchen. These little compost bins are great for small spaces, as they’re quick and easy to make and put your kitchen scraps to great use.
As for using the compost? The Guardian’s Vertical Veg man suggests adding a little compost, often, to your plants. He adds, “Feeding crops is an art as well as a science. How much you feed depends on lots of variables: the size of the pot, what compost you’re using, how big your plant is, and how fast it’s growing. The secret is to give it a go, observe the difference, and learn from the results. As a general rule, little and often is the safest strategy.”
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