how to make good dirt

I live in an apartment.  Don’t have much space.  Was concerned about the lack of recycling where I live.

Since January of this year, I have composted on my balcony.  It’s not only possible, but surprisingly pretty easy if you ask me.

My compost bin does not get stinky.  I don’t really see any scary bugs.

The compost is ready when it looks like regular potting soil or “good dirt.”

Costs are minimal or totally free depending on where you get your supplies (think of family, friends, yard sales, and thrift stores).

You can choose to go the worm route or not; in my case, no worms.

The resulting compost will add to the health of your existing plants and give you peace of mind for being “green” in actual practice.

If you don’t have any plants, that’s cool.  You can give your compost away.  There are plenty of folks (really!) out there happy to receive a gift of compost. 🙂


So what’s involved?

You’ll need a sturdy bin (usually in the five gallon size or larger), something to turn/mix the compost material (e.g., gardening gloves, a big spoon or decent-sized shovel, or a stick/metal pole/tongs), and some starter dirt to mix in with the scraps.


Here’s a how-to tutorial I found on YouTube:


This next YouTube video points out the 1 part green to 2 parts brown ratio:


The buckets highlighted in the two videos above aren’t really stylish in my opinion, so if you’re like me and you want something cute or at least matching your decor, check out different options online or in your local hardware and gardening stores.  I happened to find my bucket at a nearby Salvation Army store.  I think it might have been a clothes hamper at some point, but I converted it into a composting bin.  There’s a hole in the lid to allow for air circulation.  I cover the lid hole with a little yellow plant pot to avoid insects or rodents getting into it.  My bin produces good dirt every two or three months depending on how much stuff I put in it.


Examples of stuff you can compost:

Fruit and vegetable scraps (e.g., banana or orange peels, apple cores, potato peels, lettuce remains, tops of tomatoes, etc.)

Used tea bags and coffee grounds or filters

Old rice and bread

Egg shells

Dead leaves or fresh trimmings from houseplants

Scraps of paper/newspaper and cardboard (cut ’em up or shred them for faster decomposition)


Types of stuff to avoid putting in your compost bin:

Prepared foods, especially greasy items

Certain milk products

Fish and meats

Waste products



More examples of what should and should not go into a bin can be found at .


If you need more information, simply do a Google search using keywords like “container gardening,” “balcony composting,” “apartment compost bin,” and “urban composting.”


Posted on September 9, 2011, in Healthy Sparks, Inspirational Sparks and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Thanks for posting this, Jenny! I’ve been wanting to compost for years, but kept thinking it was too hard, or needed to have the right container! HA! Guess not!!! I have some really big cat litter buckets that I should be able to use (I have about 10 of them of various sizes!)!! I’m GOING to DO IT!!!

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