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Winter Composting

January 22, 2010
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Composting in winter isn’t always easy. I’m not adding any more to my summer compost heap, so that it will be ready come spring. The mound on the right, there, is the summer pile.

The mound on the left is the pile of new fall leaves. They’re ready and waiting to become the new summer pile.

My winter compost pile is in a cage, this year. It’s actually easier to use in the winter than the open pile. The cage maintains the height of the pile. It thaws faster than the old pile. Even frozen, the fresh leaves are workable. I added fresh kitchen scraps right after taking this photo.

compost

The discouraging part is the walk through the snow to get to the pile. Here, the pile is behind me and I’m looking back the way I came. Even still, I’d rather walk through a bit of snow than go out when it’s below freezing. When we get both together, I just don’t bother.

walk to compost

To aid the composting efforts in winter, I’ve recruited some helpers. These little babies were my Mother’s Day gift, last year. I know, most people don’t understand the thrill of such a gift. Allow me to explain. I had been wanting to start a worm bucket for the benefits of their castings (poo) to fertilize my garden. I just couldn’t bring myself to spend money on postage for worms. The previous year, I collected worms from the summer compost heap. I don’t recommend that. It doesn’t work. Imagine my excitement when I discovered that the Worm Ladies were coming to a nearby garden club’s spring plant sale. And they would have worms for sale! Trouble was, my garden investment for last year was an indoor seed starting setup, so I had already reached the limit of my garden budget. The key to bringing these babies home turned out to be the date of the sale, Mother’s Day.

composting worms

This is still not a perfect system. The worms can only eat so much. It’s really not good to over feed them. So, I feed the worms first. When they’ve been fed, the rest goes into a bin to take outside. Most of the time, this works out fine. When we collect too much, too quickly and the weather is just too cold, I cheat. After that first trip out to the compost heap in the snow, a cold front blew in. So, I tossed the scraps in the freezer to take out when my little corner of the world thaws.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 22, 2010 11:54 am

    I am so jealous! Where do you keep your lovely worms in the winter? I have bear problems and my compost has suffered as a result. What is your secret for keeping animals away? ;>)

  2. January 23, 2010 4:47 pm

    I understand the worm gift! I got the same gift this past year! Mine are living in the worm box in my stained glass shop, under the work table. They are only a few steps from the kitchen where all the scraps are, so it works out nice. They went in there because it is so hot here, we would lose them outside. They are living the life! Just wait for food…..

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