I thought that I was a little bit ‘out there’ for trying to compost during our cold winters, but my eco-buddy Shea Gunther makes me feel like a bit of a light-weight! He has decided to live in a teepee all winter long – and in Maine, no less! (winters in Maine are almost certainly more severe than here in Southern Ontario).
Now before you conclude that he is completely out of his mind, I should probably point out that this ‘teepee’ (also spelled ‘tipi’, btw) of his is no ordinary pup tent! It is a serious structure (two, in fact!) created by Colorado Yurt Company. Oh, and did I mention that he has “power, an internet connection, a full bathroom and kitchen, and wood stove” (and his cat, Fee, to keep him company)?
All joking aside, this sounds like a seriously cool adventure and I’m going to be very interested to see how things pan out for Shea. I wasn’t able to find any winter pictures on his website yet, but hopefully he’ll post some fairly soon (I assume there must be at least as much snow in Maine as there is here right now, but I could be wrong).
Don’t let the semi-rugged living conditions fool you though. It sounds as though Shea is still very busy with his various online endeavours. Aside from providing teepee-living updates on his blog, he will also be planning out his ‘Gunther Green Home‘ – a ‘super eco-friendly’ home that he’ll be building in the spring of 2008. Here is a brief blurb about that:
I’m building a super green home starting in the Spring of 2008 called the Gunther Green Home. It will be net-zero, producing as much energy as it uses with solar panels and wind turbines using the power grid as it’s battery. The Gunther Green Home will use straw bales for the walls and passive solar for the heating with a food fired masonry stove backup. We’ll use local and natural materials. The home will have a green roof, an ice cooled food storage room, and a secret passage or two.
I also recently learned that Shea (along with a couple of other eco-friends, Chris Baskind and Michael D’Estries) is involved with a fun new website – Snarfd, described as “a daily collection of the web’s coolest, oddest, and most beautiful destinations.” I spent some time on the site recently and found it very entertaining!
[UPDATE]: Just in case you miss the comments section of this post, Shea has informed us that he is no longer living in his tipi, but that he still works there (that’s still pretty rugged if you ask me). Other great things have happened in his life, leading him to abandon the project (with good reason!) – read all about it >>HERE<<.
I’ve talked previously (here) about Fall Composting, but I haven’t really talked at great length about my winter composting efforts. Given that winter has most certainly arrived here in Ontario (as I type I am watching as snow falls heavily outside my window) and that I have lots of information to share about this year’s winter composting efforts – there is no time like the present!
You can find full coverage of my efforts last year on the EcoSherpa blog, or more easily on the EcoSherpa Squidoo lens (about half way down the page you’ll see my winter composting photos and links to my blog posts below). This year I plan to provide full coverage here and @ Red Worm Composting.
In a nutshell, I’m basically just trying to keep my large outdoor worm bin active all winter long (is that too much to ask?! haha). I gave it the ‘ol college try’ last winter but had to cut my losses in February (not January, as mentioned elsewhere) due to the contents of the bin starting to freeze solid. All in all, I was pretty impressed that I made it as far as I did, and vowed that I would come back swinging this year!
One of my weaknesses last year was an relatively feeble insulation system. I basically stapled garbage bags to the outside walls, then stuffed them full of old grocery bags and other plastic waste I had stockpiled. The one plus of this system was the solar absorption properties of the black plastic – on sunny winter days the plastic panels helped to warm up the bin somewhat, but once the serious winter arrived (and there was relatively few sunny days) this didn’t do me much good. Another issue encountered was the strange winter weather. For a couple months it was actually looking like we wouldn’t get a winter at all. During this time I still stockpiled materials in the bin and ended up burning through most of my winter food stock, not to mention having to deal with excess heat generation a few times! If I had taken a more moderate approach I likely would have been able to stretch things out at least a little longer.
Well, I certainly learned from my mistakes and feel relatively confident that I’ll be able to make it all the way through the winter this time around – even with Environment Canada predicting this will be the coldest winter in 15 years! I’ve ‘souped up’ my insulation system, have secured more bin materials for the cold months ahead, and have been taking a much more moderate approach in an effort to conserve materials and prevent unnecessary overheating from occurring.
I put together a YouTube video outlining my efforts.
You can also watch the FULL (higher quality) version on my Worm Composting Videos page (RedWormComposting.com). Aside from being much higher definition, it also has a little more information.
Thus far, the bin has been performing fairly well. Unlike last year, we’re already into a ‘real’ winter (and have been for a number of weeks now), and I already have a huge heap of snow piled around the bin for extra insulation. Temperatures in the middle of the composting mass have been a little lower than expected – in the 10-12C (~50-54F) range, but if I can actually keep the bin in that range all winter long it will be a major triumph!
I will definitely be posting updates on a fairly regular basis (now that I’m getting back into the swing of things here on the blog). Stay tuned – much more to come!
[tags]winter composting, composting, compost bin, composter, worm bin, worm composting, vermicomposting, extravaganza[/tags]
Back at the end of September we talked about how Garden Girl is “back”. She had announced her partnership with Farmers Almanac and her plans to create a bunch of new videos.
At the time the one thing that still needed a little TLC was her website. Well, I’m very happy to report that Patti’s new website is now live, and it looks FANTASTIC! I encourage everyone to go check it out and have a look around.
You should sign up for her newsletter as well so that you can keep up to date and informed. She sends out periodic updates of her progress, and is always sure to add lots of other interesting tidbits.
Anyway, that’s all for now, but we’ll certainly have more Garden Girl updates here in the future.
Oh, and for the record, we came up with our names independently! There is no conspiracy afoot!