COLD WEATHER COMPOSTING

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Composting Research: COLD WEATHER COMPOSTING
Author: Utopian (Utopian)
Friday, February 12, 2010 - 4:55 pm
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I live in Iowa, which can get down to as low as -15F. It's certainly not as cold as Alaska, but I do have one easy fix that should at least extend your active composting season.

For the past several years my bins have been made of four pallets in a square and they froze solid early in the winter. This past spring, I made a bin out of five pallets forming a pentagon. This slightly larger pile has made all the difference. Even in the coldest weather here in Iowa my pile has held to at least 90F. Apparently the larger pile affords a greater level of insulation and it allows my pile to stay active. Bigger is better, and warmer!

Author: Patrick (Pcinca)
Tuesday, December 25, 2007 - 12:58 pm
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There are some good, recent posts here about creating a thermal box or small hot house for the pile to keep it active all year- even in snow-bound areas. I have used a clear plastic, thermal hot tub cover on my bin for this purpose and it works great.

Author: Joe Jenkins (Joe)
Monday, December 24, 2007 - 1:15 pm
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Donīt expect any dramatic effects from commercial EM in your humanure compost. Your excrement already has its own effective microorganisms and should do just fine on its own.

Author: david carpenter (Whistlepigwnc)
Sunday, December 23, 2007 - 4:42 pm
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Howzit?I'm new to this message board and relatively new to the "Humanure System".(6 months)I started my second bin about a month ago and expect to need 2-3 more bins for full cycle.I just ordered a thermometer,but I imagine the first bin is frozen, as nightime temperatures have been well below freezing often below zero.It may be that I'll need more bins if the thermophilic slows.Anyone heard of EM?

Author: Joe Jenkins (Joe)
Saturday, February 03, 2007 - 5:01 pm
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This info was submitted via email:

I live in Fairbanks, Alaska and have been composting humanure for seven years. My pile freezes solid by October and only gets going again in mid-May: approximately eight months. I use a lot of buckets. I live alone. At present, the ten buckets that I use last about half of the winter. I warm them up and dump and clean them together. I have to do this about two to three times in a winter. When the pile starts to warm up in May, I mix it and transfer it into a bin. That's my first pile of spring. I continue to accumulate full buckets until I don't have any empties left and then do it again. Batch composting works better for me than continuous (I've tried it both ways) because it heats up better. That said, once I transfer the contents of all the buckets plus garden scraps etc., I never turn the pile. I usually leave a pile sit for a year before I put it on the garden. I maintain three one-pallet bins. Four would not be too many.

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