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8 Ways to Compost

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Cold Composting

Cold composting is much less-labor intensive, but considerably slower than hot composting methods. Composting bins, or piles, are simply filled up as compostable materials become available. Compost can be harvested gradually as it becomes ready by digging from the bottom of the heap. (This is much easier with a commercial composter like the one pictured here, or a custom-built one that also allows access to the base.)

Alternatively, you can build up one cold compost heap or bin over a season, and then let it sit while you start filling up the next. In my experience it can take up to a year, using this method, to achieve good, usable compost.

It’s worth noting that cold composting will be unlikely to kill weed seeds or plant diseases, so it is worth being careful about what you put in your bin. On the other hand, however, I have heard some permaculture enthusiasts argue that a cold heap will have more beneficial microorganisms that can actually live outside of the composting environment. (I am skeptical about this claim. Even hot heaps cool down and go through a secondary, cooler decomposition.)

Because cold composting doesn’t involve turning the pile, getting enough oxygen to avoid anaerobic decomposition (and the slime and smell that goes with it) can be tricky. One of the best methods is to simply add plenty of scrunched up newspaper, cardboard and other high-fiber, carbon-rich materials in with your kitchen scraps and other waste.

Cold composting is great for folks who may not generate huge amounts of organic waste at any one time, or those who simply don’t have the time, energy or interest for more involved methods. But be prepared to wait if you want to use the end result.

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4:42AM PST on Feb 18, 2014

thank you

8:50PM PST on Feb 16, 2014

Very informative. Especially the part about peeing on compost.

8:59PM PDT on Sep 15, 2013

always something to learn.......

8:57AM PDT on Aug 13, 2013

Thank you, AWESOME ARTICLE; I did not know all of these.

Read more:

8:06AM PDT on Aug 4, 2013

Thanks 4 the suggestions.

7:18AM PDT on Aug 4, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

10:52PM PDT on Aug 3, 2013

Thanks for the tips.

4:16AM PDT on Jul 12, 2013

Is it eco-friendly?

7:05PM PDT on May 21, 2013

compost everything, and share the some of the worms with my neighbor's chickens

11:40AM PST on Feb 2, 2013

growing up, we had a large garden and every fall my dad and brothers would collect the curbside bagged leaves and dump them on the garden to compost over the winter. in the spring, they were plowed in. we had the richest garden soil around. no fertilizer required.

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