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.