Lots of Calgarians having been composting for years…especially gardeners. Composting produces the best additive for your soil money can buy, and also keeps waste out of landfills. The City of Calgary’s “Green Cart” trial is looking to see how the rest of the city’ population could be served. Residents of Abbeydale, Brentwood, Cougar Ridge and Southwood have been afforded the opportunity to put their green and brown organic wastes into their personal green cart, where the City hauls it off weekly and composts the material for them.
Mirage Landscaping of Calgary is a full-service residential and commercial landscaping design, construction, and maintenance firm. We think composting is great, but we encourage you to keep yours!
Composting Saves You Money
The merits of composting are many, and they are undeniable. With just a little effort on your part, microbes, other microorganisms, and creatures such as earthworms, create all-natural soil improvements for your garden and flowerpots. The initial financial inputs are very reasonable!
With leaves falling all about us, now is the right time to discuss composting, which is a combination of your household’s “green” and “brown” wastes. The “green” waste stream that represents bound nitrogen springs from your household food garbage and occurs all year. The “brown” waste stream that consists of fallen leaves, the last grass clippings, and dead annuals, and are the bound carbon, and is being generated right now.
Just as, despite refrigeration, green foodstuffs will still rot in cool temperatures, a composting bin will continue to work on organic wastes, at a reduced rate of production, throughout even a Calgary winter. In fact, Calgary’s frequent freeze/thaw cycle makes winter composting far more viable than any place in Canada where a deep freeze is on from the moment winter officially arrives.
The key to winter composting is, like most things about the winter here, all about proper preparation.
Assist The Heat of Your Composting Pile
The heat coming off of a properly layered and turned compost pile is exothermic in nature—it is creating its own heat as a byproduct of decomposition. Though the biological activity responsible for this reaction slows in the winter, it won’t stop if you help it along. For instance, you could build a windbreak that can help keep the compost pile from “chilling out” so that only the last added layer of browns becomes the ambient air temperature. If you are extra industrious, you can also give your composting bin “thermos-style” double wall insulation. Especially if you have one of those cylindrical commercially fabricated composting bins, you can purchase a slightly larger plastic trash barrel that will fit over it after you cut the bottom out. Loosely pack straw, dead leaves, or other brown carbon debris loosely between the two walls for insulation. Now not only do you have an effective windbreak, you have a system that helps a warm pile to sustain its decomposition ability.
If you’d rather not spend any money insulating your composting bin, adding an exterior layer of snow will also do, unless you want that snow removed instead.
Don’t Forget To Add Water
Remember, a properly functioning compost pile requires some moisture. During thaws this winter, go and moisten your pile, but don’t make it damp enough to freeze through. Also, unlike in summer, don’t turn the pile, only judiciously add green and brown wastes to it, with brown always forming the outside so that freezing temperatures only harden that layer.
Consider Using a Temporary Bucket
No one wants to run out the food wastes for composting during a snowstorm. Instead, consider using a five-gallon bucket in your garage, or on the back patio, as an intermediate length collection point. This way, you can add your green waste stream to the composting bin on a weather friendly schedule.
Contact Us To Handle The Browns
Good winter composting requires smaller carbon particles. Contact Mirage Landscaping to collect and then shred your brown organics for you before winter.