compost pile frozen

sunnytopFebruary 1, 2008

I started my first compost pile this fall. I put in it mostly leaves, some sod and grass clippings, an occassional banana peel and a bucket of ashes from the fireplace. I bring home a few coffee grounds from work periodically and have stuck them in. I am reading on the posts about compost piles cooking and letting off steam even in the winter it sounds like. Is there something wrong with my pile that it is frozen 6 inches down? We've had snow cover and mostly subfreezing temperatures.

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sawdust_maker

If you turn your pile at the right times, add water when necessary, keep a proper ratio of greens and browns, yes, you can apparently keep one cooking all winter long.

On the other hand, my pile got its last load of addendum (shredded leaves, some grass, and a pile of lake weed washed up on the shore line) a few months ago. Its frozen rock solid right now and covered with snow and ice. I don't much care to go out to play with it through the winter. Come spring time it will quite happily start cooking again, and it will be ready when I want to use it. I've still got a little left year from last year's pile anyway to use as I need it.

John

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 5:15PM
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robin_maine

I'm in zone 5. My piles are frozen and under snow. I can't keep them hot when it's -10*. I'll start them again in the spring.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 9:47PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Keeping in mind that what freezes when the temperatures drop low enough is water, it probably is not a good idea for people in these cold regions to add water to the mix unless it is absolutely necessary. It is very common for the moist material on the exterior of your pile, if it has some moisture in it, to freeze when the temperatures drop low enough, long enough. How deeply the material will freeze depends on how cold it gets and how long it stays that cold. People are often surprised to find, however, that the center of the pile, it you have sufficient volume, is being worked on and is quite warm. Turning compost piles in winter and getting the frozen exterior is generally not considered a good idea, any more than adding more water would be. Adding water can cool the material and it will displace the air the bacteria also need to function, besides having that property that allows water to solidify.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 6:53AM
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billhill(z5 MI - KBG)

About a month ago I chipped through 6 inches of frozen compost and then deep into the previously added kitchen waste. There were several tight colonies of red wigglers. I found the internal temperature at 45 F. It will be interesting to see if they survive until I turn the pile in the spring. ItÂs a 4 ft cubed pallet bin. Bill Hill

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 11:12AM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

My pile is frozen solid. It freezes all the way through. Often times in early spring, I feel the need to dig in the pile and find that the middle is still frozen, long after I would think it should be thawed.

Even so, once it thaws, it heats up and shrinks fairly quickly. I think that that the freezing helps break down the cellular structure, such that when it finally does thaw it decomposes quite quickly.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 12:26PM
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sunnytop

Thank-you for your responses. That all makes sense.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 5:19PM
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dorisl(5)

We had some springish weather a couple weeks ago, so I went a played with my pile and it stayed at 150-160 for a good week. It got cold and snowy again, its not steaming anymore, but I can still get in there and add the greens in the middle.

:)
Not frozen yet.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 5:42PM
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