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Composting over Winter in Cold Weather

By Oberon46
February 24, 2014

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.

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Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
Frogs and Toads Container Gardener Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! The WITWIT Badge Winter Sowing
Oct 23, 2014 5:10 PM CST
I'd love to know how this worked out! I had a friend, once, who grew up in Bulgaria and she told about starting tomato plants in the compost in early spring because it was hot enough to germinate the seeds there. I'm pretty sure they had lots of fresh cow manure to heat up their compost, though, but she told about compost heaps under the snow....

It was years ago and I wish I remembered better some of those details. Anyway, I know from that that there are ways to make it work.

I've been known to save kitchen scraps in the freezer for weeks and even months, until it's warm enough outside to work them into the compost. But I have never lived in an Alaskan winter!
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
Oct 23, 2014 7:17 PM CST
Can't say it worked especially well. I thawed out the frozen kitchen stuff and pitched it in. I have never been able to get the barrels to work. We bought a grinder and my husband will grind green stuff from the garden, straw, leaves, branches and get a mulch that will heat up nicely if he keeps the ratios correct. I just strew it around the garden as is. Mostly this is done in the fall. I figure as the stuff breaks down in the garden it is going to end up compost and I won't lose any nutrients. On the other hand that doesn't help me with kitchen waste. I can't run it through the grinder once it is frozen as it is too wet when thawed. I think I will sell the barrels and build a three bin system. According to what I read Bulgaria has an average winter cold of 23F while we seen below zero down to -20 from time to time. They also consider their winter to start in December lasting to Feb. We have snow now and it will last til March. The snow won't be entirely gone, except in patches, until mid to late April. Not the same at all.

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