You Got Your Winter Compost, You Got Your Summer Compost: What To Do With Your Potato Peels All Year Round
These ceramic jars hold a lot of coffee grounds & potato peels
The compost jar on the counter is nice, but. . .
. . .whatcha gonna do with it when it's full?
In the winter, it may be hard to get to the compost pile or bin if they are away from the house and you have to snowshoe out there.
In the summer, if the bin is really close to the house, it's handy but a few gnats are gonna be hanging out there, and if you take the lid off on a hot & humid day, that organic smell is. . .funky, man.
The good news is that the compost bin's not stinky in January
Depends of course on where you live
Keeping compost worms warm
Redworms freeze in winter. They may be just fine if they live down in a deep compost pile or garden bed where they can burrow down below the soil surface and keep themselves at a good temperature. But if the worms are in bins, as mine are, they need to be in an environment that's 40 degrees Fahrenheit or above.
In late fall, I move my worm bins into the basement. I raise the worms in plastic storage bins, the type used for holiday decorations and out-of-season clothes. Around Thanksgiving, the bins come down the basement stairs, and the worms go into winter hibernation mode. There are a few food scraps left from autumn in the bins, and I don't add any more. I make sure there are two or three layers of wet cardboard covering the worms and their brown paper/cardboard bedding, and then I snap down the bin lids and leave the worms alone until I am ready to move the bins back outside to the garage in March. The worms' metabolisms slow way down when temperatures drop; if I put veggie scraps in there, they will rot before the worms get them eaten.
In the winter, compost worms snooze & they wake up in the spring
Frozen vegetables, redefined
Okay, so in the winter, your tomato skins and carrot tops and wilted beet greens are going to freeze. The good news is that you can store them pretty easily. All the creatures which get into compost piles looking for goodies -- skunks, raccoons, and the like -- won't be around much and nature's furry creatures won't smell the lovely turnip peels if they ARE sniffing around. You can probably put the compost in heavy duty trash bags over the winter if you can shut those up in the garage or a shed.
If you don't have an enclosed space, then your next best bets are either a big rubber or plastic or metal trash can with a lid, or a plastic storage bin with a snap-on cover. The issue is volume; in warm months, compost gets smaller as the water evaporates and the potato peels and dead lettuce leaves shrivel. In the winter, it all stays in suspended animation and so the more you add, the more you need a place to store it.
In the summer, it helps to separate wet & dry
In warm months, I've got two compost bins. One is for brown leaves and green grass cuttings and the kind of veggie cuttings which aren't mushy and wet -- hard ends of raw sweet potatoes, shriveling carrot ends, that kind of stuff. I can put all of this into my large compost yard bin and put the lid on loosely and I'm good. That compost never gets smelly or gross, and animals aren't interested in it.
The bucket of wetter stuff, like coffee grounds and soft vegetable pieces, does get a little pungent and the nocturnal animals are always interested to see what's on the menu. Maine, where I live, has a lot of skunks and they will definitely come right up on the back porch to see if that leftover butternut squash from the humans' dinner tastes as good as it smells.
I keep the wet compost in a five-gallon icing bucket I got for free from the bakery department of our local grocery store. The lid snaps down tightly, which traps odors and discourages varmints.
I find the best place for the compost bucket is on the top step of the deck stairs that are on the far side, away from the house. I do have to cross the deck to dump in the morning grounds from the french coffee press, but I like that better than having to look at the compost pail right next to the back door.
Dry compost reduces in size & turns black & crumbly
Wet compost goes into the worm bins
It's not that bad when you get used to it
This marigold pot is like my aunt's crocheted doily
thank you for reading this!
We do have community garden spaces here in South Portland, Maine but both here and in South Portland, plot spaces are precious and there is a waiting list. It's nice that we have farmer's markets and permaculture meet-ups and some other ways to talk face to face with others about organic farming, natural fertilizer, green manure, composting kitchen scraps, raised bed gardens, and so on. But none of us really have time to do real-time tutorials where we share our skills. So it's so nice to be part of an online community where I can learn in the time I have available in my busy schedule.