Maximum compost temps in winter?

Tygh Valley, OR(Zone 6a)

Howdy =)
I was wondering if any of you have experience in composting in winter?

#1 What are the maximum inner temps obtainable in winter? (avg. outdoor temp 25-35° F)
#2 Methods I can use to keep it cooking in cold weather?

I have this bright idea about heating my greenhouse with the compost heat/energy =)
I'm willing to do the extra work to keep it cooking, regular turning, adding extra biomass, microbes etc.

I'm also planning on a rather large compost piles, 10'x10' to 12'x12' to hopefully help insulate the center from the cold.
Possibly digging out some squares in the dirt 2'-3' down for my piles & extract the heat below grade?

Would keeping it covered with a black tarp help?

Thanks a bunch, Greg

This message was edited Aug 24, 2004 9:15 AM

Ashton, IL(Zone 5a)

I recall reading an article somewhere -maybe it was Organic Gardening mag? about heating a chicken coop with a compost pile. I tried Googling and found this:
where they discuss putting manure in barrels to provide heat for several weeks at a time,etc.


Tygh Valley, OR(Zone 6a)

Thanks Eileen!

That sounds like the same basic idea. =)
I envisioned a big steaming compost pile & decided to figure out a way to harness some if it?
I've been dreaming of a geo-thermal well for decades, figured a steaming pile was as close as I am going to get for the time being.
I've been busy searching & reading up on things & it looks like its possible to keep compost cooking all winter, with some work .

I've decided to dig out my sloped compost area about 2-3 ft. down (3 sided from the lowside) to give me a good scoopable base & some bottom insulation.
Build simple insulated tear-down bin walls like these... 8'x8' w/plywood & 1.5" styrofoam roof panels in the centers.
(Here are plans for a good cheap wire pen too... )
Build upper walls/windbreak with straw bales & a black tarp to jumpstart cooking as needed?
I'm going to try a oxygenating/ventilation pipe from the greenhouse into the center of the pile. Besides the oxygenating, it should give a good warming effect to get things cooking also. Then theres my underground cooling/pre-heating pipe & my heating coil pipe in the center of the pile.
I think it'll work? =)
I also saw cinder blocks mentioned as a insulating material?
I like the straw idea though, just yank out my bin walls, pull my vent pipes, scoop out the compost & kick the old bales in for the next batch =)

I'll post some more when I get my blueprints done.

Anyone else tried this kind of thing?

Thanks again =)


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