Last week I (thankfully) decided to finally get things rolling with this year’s “Winter Composting Extravaganza”. While the images might make it seem like we are still enjoying some pretty typical “fall weather”, I can assure you that conditions are actually a lot closer to winter now.
As you can see, I’ve decided to stick with the “winter worm windrow” approach, since it worked so well for me last year. I started things off a few weeks ago when I chopped up all my giant sunflower plants and added the material to my windrows (making sure to add the most in the zone that would become my winter bed). Something I discovered back in late summer or early fall was that the worms actually really seem to like the decomposing sunflower heads, so I’m hopeful that this debris will provide both structure AND a long-term food source.
We also had a collection of pumpkins and squash left over from fall decorating and Halloween, so I certainly didn’t let those go to waste!
Once these were all chopped up (using a shovel and a big plastic garbage can) and mixed with some fall leaves, I created a depression in the sunflower waste and dumped everything in.
Next, I added several alternating layers of alfalfa hay and fall leaves (many of you will likely recall that I scored quite a few bags of these not too long ago), before watering everything down (with some help from my trusty assistant).
Lastly, I placed my big black tarp over top of the windrow and secured it with some bricks and stones (as shown in the first picture).
This past weekend I decided to add several more bags of leaves and about 5 lb of food waste. I also soaked some leaves and cardboard in about 2 gallons of dirty fish tank water (with some molasses mixed in for good measure) and added it all to the bed.
I still have a lot more leaves, most of a straw bale, and about half a bale of the alfalfa hay, so it looks like we’ll definitely be in good shape to get things rolling nicely. I definitely don’t want to go overboard just yet since the REALLY cold weather hasn’t arrived – no point burning through our fuel before we really need it, right?
Apart from plenty of my own food waste (which will be stock-piled in my freezer, then thawed and mixed with fall leaves and/or cardboard indoors), it looks as though I may have secured another good supply of winter worm bed “food” from a local business! Will write more about that soon.