Monday, February 9, 2009

So...Your Compost Bin is Starting to Thaw

OK, so I know we're not really thawing yet up here in the Northeast (hopefully you have been adding to your compost bin though). Next winter I want to try an indoor worm composting bin, but now that spring is just a few weeks away (and this prospect still makes me kind of uneasy) I will just work with what I have collected. Anything that was living at one time is great for compost piles such as leaves, vegetables and grass clippings. The microbes responsible for breaking down your compost pile need a balance of nitrogen and carbon. Nitrogen comes from green materials such as food scraps, manure, and grass clippings. Carbon comes from brown materials such as dead leaves, hay, wood chips and shredded newspaper. A ratio that contains equal portions of both and is well mixed (every couple weeks) works best. In the frozen winter mixing doesn't really work (and lets precious heat escape), so the best thing is to have your compost bin near your house (the easier it is to get to the more you will use it) in a dark bin in direct sunlight and fill it with brown material; leaving a hole in the middle for you to add your green materials as you collect them. When you add the green material (food scraps) cover it with a couple inches of brown material and just keep repeating this. After the spring thaw, you will turn the compost and water it as you normally would. An important thing to remember when composting is that you need those brown materials to add carbon or your pile will start to smell... bad. My pup Olive loves to roll around in our backyard compost pile if it starts to smell and believe me this is not a good thing. This year we have collected a couple wooden pallets and will be making a new outdoor pile that will keep Olive out!

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