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Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Winter Composting Bin

Or so it seems…

You may recall from the recent update me voicing hope that some colder weather would hit so I could really put the winter composting bin to the test. Well, as luck would have it temperatures plummeted the very next day, and have continued very cold today. I decided to make a trip out to the bin when I saw on the Weather Network that it was -18 C (-0.4 F) in my area this morning (and certainly even colder last night). This is definitely the coldest it has been so far this winter! I actually found myself feeling a teeny bit worried that bin temperatures would have dropped substantially as a result.

I decided to take out a bucket FULL of foodscraps (mixed with mulched leaves/grass) accumulated during our recent New Years event so as to provide some warm, microbially active ‘fuel’ for the system – just in case. When I opened up the lid however, I realized my worries were unfounded. Steam billowed out and I could see countless springtails crawling around on the inner lid surface (which was wet – not frozen at all). I quickly took some temperature readings and was very happy to see temps in the 20 C (68 F) range throughout much of the bin!

I didn’t want to push my luck (given the minus 18 air temp), so I quickly added the bucket of material and closed up the bin once again.

Aside from the substantially improved insulation wall added this year, I’ve added a few additional tweaks to my methodology – small improvements that I suspect have helped to maintain the cozy conditions in the bin. Last year whenever I wanted to add more leaves for insulation, I simply opened up one of the bags sitting out on my deck and added whatever amount I desired to the bin. This year I’ve decided to bring each bag inside for 1 or 2 days prior to adding the contents to the bin. This extra step ensures that the contents of the bag have warmed up to my house temperatures and therefore won’t end up lowering temperatures in the composting mass when I add them. This probably seems pretty common sense – and it certainly IS – but for whatever reason it just didn’t occur to me to do this last year.

I am also making an effort to add buckets of waste, rather than simply taking out (and dumping) my milk carton kitchen scrap holder whenever it gets full. I plan to do the same with my bokashi buckets as well, once that project is up and running. Water has great heat holding capacity, so adding more water-rich food wastes (which are already decomposing) at once should help to boost overall warmth in the bin.

I have little doubt that we’ll see even colder temperatures before too long (although strangely enough, they are calling for temperatures well above freezing by early next week!), and cold spells that will last much longer, but nevertheless my optimism remains very high for the success of this years experiment!

[tags]winter composting, composting, compost, compost bin, worm composting, vermicomposting, composter, worm bin, red worms, red wigglers[/tags]

Written by Compost Guy on January 3rd, 2008 with no comments.
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