Have you ever been tempted to ignore your compost pile in the winter time because snow made it difficult to get to?  Well, I have, and this past winter was particularly challenging because we had such a huge amount of snow.   Our compost pile lives behind our garage, and we access it by a very narrow path between our garage and the edge of our property.  During normal winters, we can usually just throw on our boots and trudge through the snow to get to it, but this winter there was so much snow that we had to pile the snow up along side the garage, and by the end of the season the snow reached probably three-quarters of the way up the side of the garage–a good six or seven foot tall pile at least.  And no, I’m not kidding.  It really was one of those winters here in Maine.  Needless to say, our compost pile was a bit difficult to get to.  But, I can’t bear to let our kitchen scraps go to waste, so instead we decided to use a large plastic trash can (the kind you use outside or in the garage, with a secure lid that snaps closed) right outside our back door to collect all our wintertime compostables.   We simply had to step out the back door and dump our scraps in, which helped to avoid overflowing buckets of compost piling up in the kitchen.   But the big unknown for us was how was all this compost going to be to deal with come spring?  It was totally frozen for the winter months, but we weren’t so sure how we were going to handle it when it all thawed out.

Well, we answered that question last weekend.  With the snow finally gone, and with all our winter time scraps (which amounted to one-and-a-half large trashcans-full) thawed out and beginning to smell, it was clearly time to get the scraps onto our real compost pile.  So, with Ben’s help I lugged the trash cans back behind the garage and began the extraordinarily messy and smelly task of shoveling the rotting food on the  pile, layering it with a little bit of dirt and some other, mostly decomposed matter as I went.  Connor REALLY wanted to help me with the shoveling, and as much as I’m all about kids helping with almost anything, I just couldn’t handle the thought of shovelfuls of liquid-y, truly putrid vegetable matter missing their intended target (the compost heap), and instead landing on the garage wall, or on our neighbor’s garage, or on one of us.   Thankfully there was other stuff to shovel–and Connor’s job was to toss shovelfuls of the almost finished compost on top of the pile, layering it with my shovelfuls of rotten kitchen scraps.  And, he did quite a nice job of it.  I’m continually amazed what my soon-to-be five-year-old is able to do these days.  In any case, our newly-enlarged compost pile is now decomposing away as it should be–and hopefully we’ll have some beautiful new compost to work with later this summer and fall.

Winter compost experiment, May 1, 2011