Composting in winter- how many bins?

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: General Composting Issues: Composting in winter- how many bins?
Author: Cat (Cat)
Saturday, April 24, 2010 - 8:57 pm
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We have been using the simple sawdust and hay/straw compost method in Vermont since 2002. The pile slows a bit in winter but our system has not frozen since 2004 when we began saving out greasy grimy gray water- ie: wet stuff that should not go down the drain anyway and any fermented liquids we come across like beer, juice or wine dregs, pickle juice, etc.... We do batch composting. It takes the 2 of us about 3 weeks to fill 15 5 gallon buckets: 5 humanure and carbon mix, 4 sawdust and urine, 4 vegetable scraps, and one of greasy grimy gray water. Added to these ingredients is an insular nest of straw/hay all around the pile and over the top 6-12" thick. Deposits are always dug in to the center of the pile. It takes us about 40 minutes to dump and wash. In the winter we prewarm the buckets and wash indoors saving all the water for the compost bins, also the super-eco-kind soap rinsings. Sometimes if it is like 5-30 below zero, the top layer of straw/hay will freeze. You can poke right through though and then steam comes pouring out. It takes us one year to fill a bin 4x4x4. Then it sits another year. Then we flip it out of the bin. Because we insulate so heavily the pile need 6 more months before the outer hay is broken down.

Author: Utopian (Utopian)
Friday, August 14, 2009 - 9:13 pm
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Actually, you don't even need the nails. I've used discarded pallets for years and simply have connected them with any scrap wire. Both assembly and disassembly are easier and it's more sturdy.

Author: Rowan (Rowan)
Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 7:35 am
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even if you don't plan on composting the stuff, it will do so of its own accord. There is no need to keep it in the bucket for any length of time because the material will stay inert in it. The best you can do as far as I can see is deposit your stuff on a thick layer of leaves on your terrain or in the wood and cover it with another layer of leaves, or straw. There won't be any leakage. I see no advantage in burying it. It's only more work. Of course, you could decide to make a simple compost bin, 4 pallets and some nails is all you need. Throw a thick layer of any carbon rich material on the bottom, empty your buckets on top of that, cover it with another layer. Works great, you know. Even if you only throw in a few buckets per season, you can leave it in the bin for years and it'll eventually turn into harmless compost.

(Message edited by rowan on July 02, 2009)

Author: Robww (Robww)
Wednesday, July 01, 2009 - 12:18 pm
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I'm hoping to use the Lovable Loo for a cabin I own. I do not plan to compost the waste from the bucket. What are my options for disposing of the waste? If I let the waste sit in the bucket (sawdust plus manure) for a certain period of time, could I safely dispose of it by burying it in the woods? If so, how far away from the nearest well should I bury it?

Author: brookelyn
Friday, February 06, 2004 - 4:47 pm
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I live in Alaska where winter is a force for at least 7 months of the year. I have just started using the sawdust bucket/compost system. (And love it- haven't been to the outhouse for 2 months!!!) I am using the standard sized compost bins for dumping waste. It seems like it is filling up quite readily since there is no settling due to the frigid temps- it all just freezes solid! I have another bin and will need to start using it soon. I have only been composting for 2 months (started in December). The bin was already 1/3 full from garden and other compost materials from the fall. So, in colder climates- I think two bins need to be used in the winter. One bin can't hold all the refuse from 7 months of winter and not overflow. Anybody else out there with this problem? I have the room to add onto my compost area but I think I'll have to have 2 active, and 2 resting bins to be effective up here... any thoughts?

Author: admin
Friday, February 06, 2004 - 6:26 pm
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Sounds like a good plan. Compost shrinks when it's working, but not at all when frozen, so the double capacity system is probably a good idea up north.

Author: Keith Brano
Friday, February 06, 2004 - 7:25 pm
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I am interested in creating a new compost in my back yard. I have heard many good things about doing so, but need more information. I live in NM, and winters are not too cold, but lately have been quite chilly. I'm afraid that my compost will freeze and I'm not paying attention, I will slip and fall in the mound of human waste. My other question is, how much will it smell? I don't want my neighbors getting upset, even though they never pick up their dog's droppings and in the summer, the heat and smell mixed is rather disgusting.

Thank you,
Keith Brano
Albuquerque, NM

Author: Steve Adamczyk
Saturday, February 07, 2004 - 12:54 pm
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My Nevada property is high desert, 4200' with about 6" of annual rain/snow. Does anyone have experience with pit composting in an arid climate? While I don't get the extreme temperatures of, say, Las Vegas, it does get hot in the summer. Also, this area is subject to wind storms every couple of months.

My thought was to dig a pit about 5 x 5 x 4' deep and keep the pile centered by building a chicken-wire fence 4 x 4 inside the pit(s). This would allow air to reach all four sides. Occasionally I would add some gray water in addition to the regular urine.

Joe, or anyone else - does this seem workable?

Author: admin
Saturday, February 07, 2004 - 5:51 pm
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Steve, Sounds like a lot of work. Why not just build it above ground and wrap it in cardboard or something that will help keep it from drying out?

Keith, it's OK for compost to freeze. It will work again after it thaws. It probably won't freeze there though. My compost is 110 degrees F today in Pennsyvania where we have been having one of the coldest winters in many years. And there is no smell if you use adequate cover materials. How much is adequate? Enough so there is no odor.

Joe

Author: Nik
Tuesday, February 01, 2005 - 4:30 pm
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I've recently adopted the job of compost tech at an establishment that accumulates anywhere from 10-40 gallons of shit a day. We are currently using cedar saw dust as cover. This is then transfered daily to a open 5x5x5ft. bin made of hay and chicken wire. Poo is then covered in fresh hay. On average I am told that the bins should last up to 3 months before a new one is needed. But since I've taken over my temp. have stayed between 105-120 therefore not dropping as much as expected. It has been very moist and cold being that this is winter in Georgia so this may be a large factor to the disappointing temp. Usually we contain a bin for 13 months before opening. Should I consider prolonging this time in the case of this bin. Also I am getting pressure to purchase 2ft. and 4ft. thermometers for the bins and possibly a moisture detector. Is this all neccessary? What would you suggest? Your advice would be soooooo appreciated. -Nik

Author: admin
Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 12:48 pm
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105 to 120 degrees in the middle of the winter is not bad. Things may slow down in the winter and shrinkage does as well. Up north here (PA) some piles freeze completely and don't start working again until March thaw.

There is no way that the temperatures will be uniform throughout the pile unless it is a batch system that is composted all at once and possibly turned regularly. So probing the temperatures at the bottom of the pile may not provide useful information.

However, it doesn't hurt to probe and collect data. It may not help either, but if someone wants to spend the money on the measuring devices, then what can it hurt to have them on hand?

If the piles fill up faster than expected and you run out of room, you can add a bin rather rapidly by using pallets for sides. In a month or so, the ambient air temperature will increase and the compost activity should increase as well, thereby accelerating shrinkage
.

Author: Kev Man
Friday, June 24, 2005 - 4:23 pm
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To help raise the temperature of a compost pile, containerize it by building walls around it (which will still allow air to get in, and/or put a black piece of plastic over it and make sure it gets sunlight. Keep the pile larger than 3'x3'x3' but no larger than 5'x5'x5'. Air is one of the best insulators of temperature. With a large pile that has plenty of space, id be suprized if you couldnt use it as a heat source on some days.

As to the statement for the covering of the collected shit with cedar sawdust, from what my research has shown, thats a recipe for toxic disaster. Cedar and walnut wood taints composts, and there is always a danger of pathogens when using omnivor or carnivor shit for composting.

Author: admin
Thursday, December 01, 2005 - 5:24 pm
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You should start with a thick layer of clean organic material on the bottom, then add the humanure to the center by digging a slight depression there before depositing the material. Cover the fresh deposit, then dig another depression the next time you add material (also in the center), etc., etc., Take a look at http://jenkinspublishing.com/process.html.

Joe

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