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Compost in the Snow

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Compost in the Snow

Post  2SooCrew on 9/23/2013, 12:53 pm

I am looking for advice on how I can compost throughout the winter months.

We had 3 feet  of snow last year which stayed and stayed.... It even snowed on Mother's Day -

What are people in the North East  of the US doing for composting ?

Thank you !!

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Re: Compost in the Snow

Post  sanderson on 9/23/2013, 1:37 pm

2Soo,  Composting does NOT depend on the weather.  It is a chemical and microbial process.  You will probably want to cover the pile to keep off excess water from snow, rain and hail.

Plus, a composting thermometer is a wonderful tool to have to make sure it heats up inside.

Please read the following topic.  It's lengthy but you can see how other folks in northern zones (and everywhere else) manage to produce wonderful compost. There are photos of someone's (Rooster's) compost pile in the snow with the snow melted around the pile.  Now that's a HOT pile!

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t9365-are-you-a-hottie?highlight=hottie

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Re: Compost in the Snow

Post  camprn on 9/23/2013, 2:27 pm

@2SooCrew wrote:I am looking for advice on how I can compost throughout the winter months.

We had 3 feet  of snow last year which stayed and stayed.... It even snowed on Mother's Day -

What are people in the North East  of the US doing for composting ?

Thank you !!
@sanderson wrote:2Soo,  Composting does NOT depend on the weather.  It is a chemical and microbial process.  You will probably want to cover the pile to keep off excess water from snow, rain and hail.

Plus, a composting thermometer is a wonderful tool to have to make sure it heats up inside.

Please read the following topic.  It's lengthy but you can see how other folks in northern zones (and everywhere else) manage to produce wonderful compost. There are photos of someone's (Rooster's) compost pile in the snow with the snow melted around the pile.  Now that's a HOT pile!

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t9365-are-you-a-hottie?highlight=hottie
I have to disagree. I believe that composting, as an activity with particitation, is absolutely weather dependent. I will NOT be going out to turn a compost pile in mid January.
I build my piles in October and November, as that is when I am collecting the fallen leaves. Everything gets chopped up with the lawn mower and goes into a 4 X 4 X 4 bin. If I build it well, the pile will heat itself from within. All through the winter I keep throwing kitchen scraps right on top.

After the pile cools down, if the weather is good, I will turn the pile.
If the weather is nasty I will not be turning the pile; it can wait until April.
I do not cover my compost pile to keep snow out.
Please also read the composting 101 thread.

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Re: Compost in the Snow

Post  sanderson on 9/23/2013, 2:56 pm

Camp is a lot more experienced than I am at composting, so listen to her. I'm glad to know I can keep adding kitchen scraps.

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Re: Compost in the Snow

Post  2SooCrew on 9/23/2013, 8:04 pm

Spent the evening reading many of the composting posts (some get off the topic)... but hey it was entertaining.... anyhow, I've decided to gather up as many fall leaves as I can cram into a 32 gallon garbage pail, and place that in my 10 X 20 hoop house along w/ my composter - quite small right now and see if that works.

At least when it snows ( like 3 feet and stays until April or May) I will have some of the things I need to put over my kitchen scraps. When the weather is nicer and no longer snowing it will get dumped into my original compost out side.

Gardening makes me happy and I know this will get me thru the winter until I can dig in the dirt again, or until I can move South and be a snow bird. Very Happy

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Re: Compost in the Snow

Post  quiltbea on 9/23/2013, 8:20 pm

The most important step for me is bags and bags of fallen leaves piled high near the compost pile and a few in the garage.
I prepare my compost pile with greens, pulled plants, weeds, kitchen scraps  and browns which is mostly fallen leaves during the fall.  When its covered with snow, I'm inside my warm house and unable to reach it.  I let Mother Nature do her thing.  In spring, when there are snow-free days, I trudge out to the compost pile to add my kitchen scraps and also leaves from the big black plastic bags I keep in the garage for that purpose, right over the snow.  I'm a great believer in lots of leaves in my compost pile to make rich, earthy compost.
As spring progresses and when the snow lessens, I add more things to the pile and give it a turn (happens rarely with my bad back) when I can.
I've never been without good compost in the spring. The bottom of the pile is so rich, its unbelievable. You can ignore the compost pile and it'll still work its magic.

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Re: Compost in the Snow

Post  2SooCrew on 9/24/2013, 7:52 am

Sounds GREAT.... I'll do the same thing... was just concerned that I needed to gather grass too, and not just fall leaves.

Smile

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Re: Compost in the Snow

Post  camprn on 9/24/2013, 10:45 am

@2SooCrew wrote:Sounds GREAT.... I'll do the same thing... was just concerned that I needed to gather grass too, and not just fall leaves.

Smile
I do collect grass clippings throughout the summer to use in my compost pile building in the fall.

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Re: Compost in the Snow

Post  quiltbea on 9/24/2013, 12:13 pm

I, too, gather grass clippings for the pile whenever its cut.

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Re: Compost in the Snow

Post  Crs1 on 9/24/2013, 2:38 pm

So I have a lot of shredded paper and cardboard. That works too?  Is the grass clippings being used as nitrogen?  My pile is just that a pile  I don't have it contained.  
I guess what I am asking is the ratio of nitrogen and carbon.  Right now I add kitchen scraps and cover with dried grass clippings or the paper. Do I continue to do that during the winter.  I live in west central missouri and it gets cold and snowy.

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Re: Compost in the Snow

Post  llama momma on 9/24/2013, 6:55 pm

Crs1
The recommended carbon to nitrogen ratio, C:N is 30 to 1.  There is probably more nutrients in carbon sources like leaves and straw. So I might grab those first if it's available before choosing shredded newspapers and cardboard even though these will work too.  Just my humble opinion.

Yes, the grass is nitrogen.   Mel explains it rather simply in the book.  It would be a great asset to your efforts.

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Re: Compost in the Snow

Post  quiltbea on 9/24/2013, 11:47 pm

I went to a seminar on composting held by a Master Gardener in conjuction with our State University.  Saw, felt, smelled finished compost that was piled at 20 parts brown to 1 part green.  Luscious.  That's why I always add lots and lots of dried fall leaves to my compost and anytime I add kitchen scraps , grasses or dead plants, I top it off with lots of leaves.  I gather all the bags of fall leaves I can each season.

Here's some of mine being sifted.

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Re: Compost in the Snow

Post  llama momma on 9/25/2013, 8:42 am

That doesn't surprise me.  Composting isn't exact anyway.  This is from Cornell and explains nicely in the first paragraph. http://compost.css.cornell.edu/calc/cn_ratio.html

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Re: Compost in the Snow

Post  jimmy cee on 9/25/2013, 9:05 am

I've been placing just about everything I can in my piles, move them from one bin to another about every 3 weeks.
Yesterday I opened the middle, temps went up to 103 degrees, and steaming.
I am very happy with that, I also added whole leaves saved from last years gathering.
Worms and sowbugs galore inside, they sure enjoy the warm humidity of a compost pile.
This year I am saving every leaf I can find, just don't know where to store them.

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Re: Compost in the Snow

Post  camprn on 9/25/2013, 12:01 pm

Jimmy, I store all my compost supply holdings in 3'-4' hoops made with 2x4 welded wire fencing. The thing I like the best is that when it's time to build the compost pile, I just remove the fencing for easy access.

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Re: Compost in the Snow

Post  jimmy cee on 9/25/2013, 9:59 pm

Camprn
Are you meaning you put your compost material on the side and not directly into your pile ?
If yes, why ?
please

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Re: Compost in the Snow

Post  camprn on 9/25/2013, 10:07 pm

@jimmy cee wrote:Camprn
Are you meaning you put your compost material on the side and not directly into your pile ?
If yes, why ?
please
Yes I put my lawn clippings in a bin and I put all the kitchen scraps and garden  prunings in another bin and hold them there until all the leaves fall from the trees. Then I use the lawn mower to shred and pick up the leaves and then I pour them into the main composting area, which is wood pallets held in place by U posts. I then layer the lawn clippings and the leaves and the kitchen scraps to build the pile.

The building process takes a few weeks because of the prolonged leaf fall . Last year I ended up with a built pile that was 4x4x8. By spring I had 4x4x4 of usable compost.

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Re: Compost in the Snow

Post  jimmy cee on 9/25/2013, 11:00 pm

OK thank you.
Never considered doing that, I dont have the space unless I encroach on wife's flower garden.
If I do that I can forget about the entire yard...LOl....maybe even my home...(ouch)

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