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I am a newbie, so basic question for now.  RSS feed

 
Rachel Hart
Posts: 7
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Hi,
I live in a co-operative apartment and would love to have a big garden of my own or food forest
but I do have a 4 foot by 6 foot garden next to my patio, which is the same size give or take.
I have a couple of concerns:
1. Compost: someone told me, I could start a compost in a large garden pot on my patio?
My next door neighbors have sensitive noses and would a compost pot become smelly?
I do not want to cause them any grief and they have already complained my garden becomes smelly when it rains.
2. I do not want to use plastic for the compost pot, so would a ceramic pot be good?
3. Does it have to have a lid?
I am taking a pottery class, so I could make my own compost pot.
4. How big of a pot or pots would I need?

Little off topic:
I am concerned about the chemicals they use around the grounds.
1. Can I grow an organic garden, if they spray for bugs once a month.
I have asked them not to spray around my apartment but my next door neighbors do get sprayed and I image, the wind
would blow the chemicals so easily into my garden.
Also, they have been using Roundup to kill weeds for years here. I asked them to stop using it and they have but that stuff
can't be contained and can I even grow an organic garden in this soil.
I choose not to make a raised bed, so I just got the soil ready.
Also, there is a 3 foot wall on one side of the garden and paint is chipping off, since I started watering it.
So, I also have concerns about the chemicals in the paint, getting into the garden soil.

I would love to have a eco friendly large bit of land, to have a food forest but these are my circumstances and should I even
try to grow an organic garden with the environment, I find myself in?

Thank you,
Rachel
 
David Good
gardener
Posts: 522
Location: Equatorial tropics
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books forest garden
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For composting - go with a worm bin. No smell and the compost created is incredibly good stuff. Bonus: you'll then have thousands of adorable little pets!

I would avoid the chemicals as best as you can. The first thing I'd do is make friends directly with whoever takes care of the grounds and explain your dilemma. Bring them a nice gift and say "thank you" for their hard work, then ask if there's a way you can have your area un-sprayed if possible. Say nice things about the work they do and go with a gift in hand and the doors will swing open. Works 1000 times better than a complaint.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 3902
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
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Howdy Rachel, welcome to permies. As David has said, you might look into worm bins or vermicomposting. Here is a thread with some info on that... http://www.permies.com/t/9425/composting/Fill-vermicompost

I am wondering if you are stuck in your apartment or if you have ever thought of looking for folks who are in need of help with their gardens and offer a place to stay?
Take a look at some of the offers in the woofers forum.. http://www.permies.com/forums/f-27/WWOOF-organic-farm-volunteers-interns

Just some thoughts for you !
 
Michael Bushman
Posts: 144
Location: Sacramento, CA
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Great questions...

Compost needs to be made in a decent sized pile or it doesn't really work, if you have a yard, using a worm bin is crazy but it is perfect for an apartment dweller.

Compost is is just a pile of decomposing stuff, if you put it in a pot, it will be decomposed by anaerobic bacteria which SMELL, compost needs air and to be churned over which will allow aerobic bacteria to decompose it and they don't smell (much). A pile of organic matter will decompose no matter how small a pile BUT the goal is to get it to decompose with aerobic bacteria quickly, which requires heat and small piles are just too small for a really fast rate of decomposing, a three foot wide pile/stack is the most common for turning stuff into wonderful black compost. So lids are only needed to keep flies or animals out although you can add dried material to the top to do the same thing but a tight lid doesn't work because the pile needs oxygen for the aerobic bacteria to thrive.
animals out of your compost, an airtight lid will just make your compost smell worse.

We would all love to garden in a pristine environment but the sad reality is raised beds on concrete next to a freeway will probably produce produce more "organic" than the stuff you buy at the grocery store. So, sweet talk the maintenance people not to spray near you, repaint the retaining wall to keep more paint from chipping off (and nobody has used lead paint since 1975 so no worries there) and garden away!

And in a small garden like yours, one of the things I would do is french dig it in the fall. Take the top layer off about a foot, pile it all on your concrete patio, then bury a bunch of your food scraps, mix it a bit with a shovel then pile the dirt from your patio on top. When your garden is going in the spring, lay down mulch like grass clippings. Then next fall, repeat the process. Classical french digging requires putting the top 1/3 into the bottom but that is a ton of work and you need more space than you have to work with.

So don't forget to put some things in pots on your patio, herbs do well that way as do things like strawberries and even some dwarf fruit trees.

Here are pictures of my raised beds on concrete although no nearby freeway. I have huge basil plants, three kinds of green beens, chard, watermelon, italian parsley, green onions, and three kinds of peppers thriving on concrete and not the best sunlight.


 
David Good
gardener
Posts: 522
Location: Equatorial tropics
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books forest garden
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You're right on, Michael. Great tips.
 
Rachel Hart
Posts: 7
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Thank you so much for all of your advice, especially Michael!
I really appreciate it very much.
Some very good suggestions and ideas.
Wishing you all the best,
Rachel
 
Tobias Ber
Posts: 446
Location: Northern Germany (Zone 8a)
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hey rachel...

how has your gardening been going so far?

concerning your compost, i read that some people put their kitchen scraps directly on the beds and cover them with mulch. maybe you could try that with a small amount, and check if it smells.


Edit: Worm Towers might be good solution. Check this video out:

Youtube:


it might be possible to make these of plastic food grade containers/buckets (with lids) which you might get from restaurants.

did you think about doing gutter gardens on your patio? there are videos on youtube.

blesses

 
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