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The Real Challenge Begins!

Yet Another Dump of Snow on the Winter Composting Bin

Looks as thought I might be in for a serious winter composting challenge after all! I’ve been feeling mighty confident about my chances of success this winter, given how easily the bin has weathered the snowy (and cold) conditions thus far, but today I finally got a bit of a reality check when I opened it up! Temperatures have dropped considerably and there is frost creeping in from all sides. The image below shows one section of the lid that is thoroughly frosted.

The warmest temperature reading I could find was in the 10 C (50 F) range, and that was right in the heart of the system. When I dug down I could see lots of worms congregated in this central zone – not too surprising!

Getting Chilly Inside!

I really need to try and swing the momentum back in my favour. Given the heat (or cold in this case) holding capacity of water, you can find yourself sliding down a slippery slope towards a frozen bin well before much of the bin actually starts to freeze. Once you get past a certain point it can be very difficult to recover.

To help stimulate microbial activity today I added a LOT of kitchen waste, along with a thick layers of leaves/straw which had been sitting inside. Something else I’m testing out is the addition of microbially-rich liquid solutions to the bin. It all started kinda accidentally, really. I had some mulched leaves/grass sitting in a bucket and decided to add some water (wanted to use the liquid for another experiment). I ended up forgetting about it for awhile so it went a little anaerobic on me. In an effort to liven it up a little I decide to pump some air into it with a small aquarium pump and airstone. While I was doing this it suddenly occured to me that this rich microbial liquid might help to stimulate more activity in the bin.

In an effort to increase microbial activity even more I added some molasses (a rich source of readily-assimilated sugar and other good stuff). Not 100% sure this will make a difference, but even just adding warm (compared to the bin) liquid should help! In a sense I’ve created a form of compost tea – although I doubt it would be as beneficial for plant growth (since I didn’t start with quality, finished compost)

I’m also thinking seriously about filling a large (4L) juice bottle with hot water and placing it in the center of the bin. It should help add some temporary warmth and help to stimulate more microbial activity as well.

I’m actually kind of excited now that things are getting more challenging! Definitely makes it a lot more interesting! That being said, hopefully this years Extravaganza won’t end up like last years.

Regardless, I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

[tags]winter composting, worm composting, vermicomposting, compost bin, composting bin, composter, red worms, red wigglers, kitchen waste, mulch, microorganisms[/tags]

Written by Compost Guy on January 24th, 2008 with 2 comments.
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Get your own gravatar by visiting Mark
#1. January 27th, 2008, at 8:47 PM.

Hi Compost guy,
I think you should bite the bullet and get in their with them.I think they would appreciate your body

Cheers Mark

Get your own gravatar by visiting Compost Guy
#2. January 28th, 2008, at 2:50 PM.

That is a great idea, Mark.
Hopefully it won’t come down to that, but I am definitely commited to making this work (although if I do something like that, my wife will have me commited – haha)


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