Composting over Winter in Cold Weather

Posted by @Oberon46 on
Composting can be a challenge in Alaska, where the weather is cool in summer and very cold for a long time in winter, but I think I have finally found a wonderful solution so I won't have to pitch out my kitchen scraps all winter and will have a hot compost ready for spring. Note black compost bins buried in the snow.

I am really sold on using compost, but it is dreadfully expensive here in Alaska, and trying to make your own is a challenge. Last fall I finally got a good combination. I bought a bale of straw (guaranteed no weed seeds) and added all the cuttings from the garden, including woody stuff from the bushes and trees. DH fed it through the shredder, being careful to use some of each in turn. The straw and branches kept the green stuff from clogging the shredder. I had him load up a few garden carts as I couldn't put it in the garden right away. When I went out the next day, I could see the piles steaming and when I put the thermometer in, they were running about 120F. I wish I could have left them to process to completed mulch but they needed to be spread.

I was thinking all winter about what I could do to start in spring. While walking Woody (our dog), I was thinking about all the windblown tree limbs (small stuff) all over the ground and thought: "I could gather these up, and together with kitchen waste for green stuff, grind them up for spring." I figured I could put my kitchen waste (don’t forget the coffee grounds) in my food processor and then mix it with the ground limbs and start a pile in a barrel in the garage. I am grinding up kitchen stuff and putting it in freezer bags to hold it until I get the branches. And, no, I won't get a lot of compost, but I will at least have a working pile started when it warms up outdoors and I can put it into my two rolling compost bins. Plus, it would be fun to see whether it works (literally). Then all winter I can save my kitchen stuff rather than throwing it away and waiting until spring.

CAVEAT: Remember that this stuff can get really hot. Keep it away from anything that might possibly heat up and catch fire.
Thumb of 2014-02-11/Oberon46/6bbde8

Comments and discussion:
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Winter Composting in Northwest Alaska by NorthernGardener Jan 28, 2017 5:39 PM 0
Did it work? by kylaluaz Oct 23, 2014 7:17 PM 1

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