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Winter Composting Extravaganza II

My Souped Up Winter Composting Bin

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 ( 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]

Written by Compost Guy on December 11th, 2007 with no comments.
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