Compost in winter

Asked March 16, 2020, 6:26 PM EDT

I have 2 compost bins. One is an earth machine that I filled with wood ashes from fire pit and used coffee grinds from Starbucks. I filled the bin before winter so now it’s a frozen lump. I’m hoping that it settles a lot when it melts so that I can add grass clippings to the bin over summer. How much do you think it will settle when it melts? I also have an in ground digester that is made with a 60 gallon plastic barrel. We add all kitchen waste to it and shovel it out in the fall on the garden. This year I tried something different and added layers of shredded paper about 1x every couple weeks. Thought that more worms would be attracted to it and it would help with the smell too. Will see both in the spring time when it thaws. Question about that one is with the paper will it still settle? If so how much?

1 Response

Thank you for your question. The assigned expert has been unavailable. Since you did not indicate your location, I cannot refer you to Extension information from your state, but MSU has the following composting guide that may help: https://www.canr.msu.edu/home_gardening/soils-compost/

H
ere is a similar publication from OSU Extension with more information: https://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/techniques/compost-backyard

Note that the organic material you add to the compost structure isn't "settling" so much as it is being broken down and consumed by micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi, nematodes and others. The worms which inhabit this environment (as opposed to the soil--earthworms, etc.) .are Eisenia fetida, or red wigglers. All of these biological entities need water and air, since they are alive, so you can 'speed up' the composting process by keeping them healthy!

Good luck!