I started a homemade compost bin today! It's something I've always wanted to try and now that I have a garden it only makes sense. Store bought ones are too big for the space I have, so I used an extra plant pot I had with holes on the bottom. I picked a black pot as it will cause the contents to get warmer under the sun. I layered the "brown" and "green" materials and mixed in a little bit of compost soil I had (left photo).

I went outside and collected a bunch of dried leaves for my "brown" materials (right photo) for layering later. I've also started to collect paper items that I can throw in there. You can see an old toilet paper roll cut up in the first photo. And of course, I've started collecting produce scraps. This is the most rewarding part - I've always felt wasteful throwing away things like apple peels, bok choy ends, wilted lettuce and coffee grounds. Now I have a way to recycle those things!

I will keep you updated on my little compost efforts (it's a slow process). Meanwhile, let me know if you have any tips for me on composting.

Garden update

I was waiting to post an update on my garden until it was complete, but with school starting next week I might get busy so I thought I'd share a bit now. The garden has changed since I took this photo a few weeks ago - I've transplanted some plants into larger pots, and done some rearranging. Also, the layout has changed as I've gotten a better handle on each plant's sun/shade needs.

I did some basic research to figure out what the conditions were on my balcony, and then what plants would do well in those conditions as well as in a container. Another challenge I'm facing because I'm higher up in the building is that the sunniest spots are also the windiest. Here's what I have:

Veggies: patio tomatoes
Herbs: chives, mint, lemon balm mint, rosemary, basil, dill, cilantro, lavender, vinca, parsley
Edible flowers: marigolds, evening primrose (not pictured)
Succulents: aloe vera, jade (both not pictured)
Others: columbine (CO state flower), lamb's ear, black-eyed susan, showy najavo tea, salvia, tickseed 

To keep costs down I scoured Craigslist to find good deals. I found most of my pots and my patio furniture on Craigslist. I highly recommend the app if you have an iPhone - way better and easier to use than the regular version.

Where I bought stuff:
Pots: 2 from Home Depot, and the rest are free or used on Craigslist, or estate sales
Plants: Al's Pine Garden Nursery, Denver Botanic Gardens Annual Plant Sale, Cherry Creek Farmer's Market and parsley from Home Depot
Soil: organic potting soil from Home Depot, organic compost from Costco
Gardening tools: estate sale

We've had a few nice dinners on the patio, which is a nice change of scenery without going out.

Also, I'm addicted to gardening! It's amazing and therapeutic to watch things grow, flower and especially to pick and eat stuff.

I want to get some more vegetables. Since the basil is doing well, I think other veggies may work.

I will post the updated layout later.