Saturday, February 21, 2015

Composting in a snoasis

One is a bowl of salad for the humans. One is a bowl of salad and vegetable scraps for the composter.

Can you tell the difference?

Vince chose the wrong bowl to put on the table for dinner.

The composter: 20 days, yesterday, since assembly and its first meal

For the first three days I gave it the recommended hot water bottle, changing it every 12 hours.

1 February 2015

Then I said, This is enough. It's like having an invalid on the terrace. So I stopped (the instructions in the manual suggested "a couple of days").

My compost is frozen.

20 February 2015

We could not have foreseen the blast of the Siberian Express, delivering record cold, but I do believe the Swedish composter maker's winter composting assurances border on sins of omission. "With its superior insulation, the Jora composter will continue working through winter, long after other composters have stopped completely..."

An Amazon reviewer is more accurate (Wyoming): "In the winter, pretty soon you have two large lumps of icy garbage."

"Continue working," is key. It implies that composting has already begun, so the interior temperatures inside will already be high. But that does not explain away the hot water bottle instructions for the start of a first batch.

Many of life's disappointments hinge on unfulfilled and unreasonable expectations. More realistic wording in a product's literature is the difference between good and bad PR. There is nothing wrong with this contraption. But the manufacturer creates a problem with a misleading assurance. Just delete the whole hot water bottle thing. Please. We'll pretend it never happened.

Because it doesn't really matter. This is still the best, admittedly high end solution for a small terrace like ours. It is filling steadily, a little meal every evening, and one day the world will thaw (well...maybe) and it will start to cook. Once the first chamber is full they say six weeks till compost. Meanwhile the second chamber fills. Optimistically, I'll have usable compost in mid to late April.

Right now snow is dropping from a white sky and in the bedroom I sit in bed with two space heaters raising the room's usual 50'F to 60. It feels cozy. Our blood has adapted. Outside the flakes have fattened from a fine mist and we are promised another accumulation. We are also fattening, deprived of exercise and roaming.

The birds eat seed in the falling snow but I have not seen the doves for two weeks. I hope they have not, like my compost, frozen.


  1. So pretty, I'm sure you're tired of the snow, but at least it covers up the mess of winter. Here everything is damp, well, squishy, covered in weeds and dead leaves. I agree with you about misleading ads. I bought something recently that promised to arrange all my digital files like magic...after 3 hours I finally had my magic :-)

  2. We are eating pea shoots grown on the windowsill here in Vermont and last summer's garlic and onions from the root cellar. We're watching the snow fall across our lovely valley. Enduring one of the coldest winters on record here, our compost was frozen solid months ago. But the days grow longer and the seed packets have arrived, so all hope is not lost. Your fairy lights will get you through, Marie.

  3. do you still find the snow enchanting? After living in MN and CO, I found the cold miserable and the snow not so pretty.

    Southern Arizona has been experiencing above average temps the last few weeks. Quite warm today with windows open and perennial spring flowers blooming. Baby tomato plant has blossoms and bees are all over the backyard.

  4. Our composting always worked thru the winter - just more slowly. don't give up yet!

  5. It's not likely that your doves have frozen. Here in New Brunswick, Canada (gardening zone 5!), the mourning doves come and go from my feeders year round. They are may succumb to cats or raptors, but not to the cold.

  6. While I live in Dallas where it is a balmy 40 today, I keep my house at 67 in the day and 60 at night -- my solution is Cuddle Duds. I wear them all the time when I am at home and manage to stay toasty.

  7. Are the birds still warming their feet on your fairy lights?

    Maybe part of the problem with the Swedish composter maker's assurances is a translation problem?

    I keep our house at 62 degrees during the day, and recently, we've needed no furnace to get there. Still snow-deprived out here in Portland, and still very much appreciating your snow photographs and comments. Does the snowfall bring a respite from street noise in your neighborhood?

    Trying to send some warmth out east, Leslie

  8. One of the few bad things about trying to garden in the mountains of Colorado is that composting is next to impossible unless you do it inside a greenhouse in the winter and fall. Why, you might ask? Because composting of any kind in spring or summer in any container at all will attract lots of black bears and that is not safe or healthy for either the bears or the humans.

  9. And I sit, ceiling fan whirring quietly, relieved that TC Marcia went south.


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