Cold Composting Does Work

Cold Composting – an alternate to Hot Composting

There are many variations to home composting, and you can create compost just as easily by using the cold composting systems as you can  via the hot composting method.  Cold composting does work!

If you are not interested in the physical task of turning a hot compost, or if you have plenty of space and don’t need the compost in a hurry, then using one of the cold composting methods might be what you’re looking for.

Even though you have a small household and  accumulate organic waste too slowly to build a hot compost pile all at once, you can still use the cold composting system to create compost, for under the cold composting umbrella there are many ways to create compost.  You don’t need much to start composting.

You can simply build a compost heap by throwing compostable material in a corner (make sure you add browns and greens), keep it moist and covered, poke it once in a while to give it air, and let it be.  The pile builds gradually as materials come to hand.

The disadvantage to using the cold composting system  is that although the feeding process is less demanding, the results take a longer time than it would if you were using the  hot composting system. You can wait from 6 months to a year for a batch of compost to be produced via this method. It depends on what goes into the pile: soft “greens” like grass clippings and kitchen wastes break down much faster than woody “browns” or unshredded pieces.

On the plus side, absolutely no turning is required! But it’s a good idea to build the pile around an air stack, or to occasionally spike it with an aerator tool to help it along.

Cold composting system worksHere’s a sample of a cold compost pile.  In this picture, a tree had to be cut down, so the owners had the arborist put the tree through the shredder (smaller pieces speed up decompostition) and allowed the shredded wood and the sawdust to decompose at its own leisure.

Municipality workers use this method of using shredded trees to build a compost heap all the time in order to  create compost which they then use as mulch over their garden beds or place around the base of their trees (especially young trees).

To build a compost heap with this type of mulch attracts the decomposing organisms thus producing compost which feeds the soil and helps keep trees and plants healthy.  Perhaps you’ve noticed this type of mulch around trees planted around your community.

Composting tips: As with a hot compost, if you want better results, keep your cold piles moist, and add a variety of foods for the decomposer organisms to prosper. Also, the lower layers decompose first as new material is constantly being added to the top, so although a compost container isn’t necessary, having one may help you get at the finished stuff on the bottom.

Whatever you choose — a fancy container or simply build a compost heap in the corner of the yard — compost produced slowly needs to be covered or through time, a lot of its nutrients will be “weathered away.” This means the resulting material will still be valuable as a soil conditioner, but it will not be very effective as a fertilizer.

To summarize, making compost by using the cold composting system  can be as simple as taking your backyard waste, making a pile in the middle of a field, and leaving it there to decompose.

Now, for those of you who do not have big country yards or fields at your disposal but would prefer to use the cold composting method, there are other cold composting systems available.

These are  soil incorporation, postholing, rotation trenching, and mulching. .

In my next post I will explain the second method — soil incorporation. You may not have heard the term before, but you have probably seen it being done. So drop in to read about it.

Until then, stay happy, stay healthy!


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One Response to “Cold Composting Does Work

  • 1
    September 5th, 2010 23:36

    I agree, I use the cold compost method mostly, too much other stuff going on around the farm to be dealing with turning it everyday!
    If I composted on a larger scale that might be a different story though!

    Cheers and keep up the good work on your blogs!

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