Breaking Down and Composting My Fire Escape Garden

Posted on Jan 15 2010 - 5:41am by Mike Lieberman

Since my fire escape garden died after the snow storm in December, I needed to break it down.

Breaking these down were definitely easier than breaking down the ones at my Grandmother’s.

Yes these froze up as well, but I was able to bring them indoors to defrost for a day.

Some of the dead plants that were above the soil line weren’t completely frozen. I was able to trim those off and toss into my indoor aerobic compost bin.

The rest I had to wait to defrost. I put them in my room next to the heater. For those of you that have never been in an NYC apartment, the heat is controlled by the building and is blasted. It’s 20 degrees out and I still have my windows open.

Needless to say, the next morning they were defrosted. I piled on a layer of the potting soil onto the plant trimmings, followed by a layer of blended food scraps and coffee grinds.

I then layered on another big layer of soil to help balance out the greens. The lesson that I learned back in May still sticks with me – don’t put too many food scraps into your compost pile. That smell was horrific.

To make doubly sure I put a layer of shredded newspaper on the pile as well. It’s now all covered up and sitting in my kitchen.

I also kept a container of soil to use and put on the compost pile as needed. The excess and muddy soil I brought to my community compost center.

This was my final step in finishing up my first season of fire escape gardening.

I’ll have to look back at my success and failures and start to get ready for the spring plantings.

  • tlo1333

    Mike, I found this site a few days ago and I've been backtracking through your posts and what a great job you've done. It's inspired me to get moving. I just recycled an old storage bin for composting and got it started yesterday, now I just need the worms ( I don't think I'll let my wife know they're in the basement just yet). I'm new to this garden thing too. Wish me luck.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks for the comment. That's great. Definitely keep me updated on how things go for you.

  • tlo1333

    Sure thing. Started small last year. Now I'm going all out, lots of veggies!

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  • http://www.nyackbackyard.blogspot.com/ Jen

    Not sure how I got here, but it is nice to “meet” you and your blog!. I've been procrastinating on the containers….not good. So thanks for the reminder. Unfortunately I've lost a few terra cotta ones due to freezing.
    Do you have worms in your indoor compost? I know some people who swear by them.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks Jen. Great to er, um meet you too. I was nearly lost in the freezing this year. No good. In my indoor compost, I have one that's just in a pail and one with just worms. I've managed to kill 2 batches so far.

  • http://www.nyackbackyard.blogspot.com/ Jen

    Not sure how I got here, but it is nice to “meet” you and your blog!. I've been procrastinating on the containers….not good. So thanks for the reminder. Unfortunately I've lost a few terra cotta ones due to freezing.
    Do you have worms in your indoor compost? I know some people who swear by them.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks Jen. Great to er, um meet you too. I was nearly lost in the freezing this year. No good. In my indoor compost, I have one that's just in a pail and one with just worms. I've managed to kill 2 batches so far.

  • http://twitter.com/GreenSoil Manure Tea Gardening

    great share for all those container gardeners that have had the same snow affect happen to them : )