In summer, I welcome a trip to feed the outdoor compost bin — or, at least, it’s easier to ask my husband, Kevin, to go. All it takes is to grab the handle, swing out the inner “pail,” skip out the door, sally forth, twist off the lid and voilà! Dump away.
But, at this time of year, when heading out to the compost is more of a trudge than a trek, and forcing open the frozen-shut bin can be a full workout, the whole exercise can put a damper on my cooking spirits. Not to mention Kevin’s willingness take my place.
So, when I decided to devote a recent day to preparing meals-ready-to-heat-and-eat for my 83-year-old mother, I chose to forego the counter crock and use a bucket instead.
I was amazed at how quickly that, too, filled up. After all, it’s winter!
In addition to the mirepoix discards, I threw in potato and sweet potato remnants, more than a dozen egg shells and soup bone remains. All that before we steamed a bowl of edamame as a snack.
We used to worry that the compost would stop working at this time of year, and that we’d end up with a pile of scrap-sidles.
But happy compost keeps doing its thing no matter the season — albeit a bit slower now. Just like me, aerobic bacteria become more sluggish in the cold.
At the insulated center of the pile, the work can continue since the decomposition process itself generates heat. That, in turn, creates a warm-enough environment for red wigglers — those cute, little worms that digest vegetative waste with as much gusto as we attack a holiday dinner.
To top it off, during warm spells, the whole operation can kick into high gear — even if it’s just for a week or two before the next cold snap.
So, as snow piles up outside and pots of soup bubble away on the stove and cookies make their way in and out of the oven, we can keep generating raw materials for the compost — filling both my mom and the worms with joy.
The tricky part will be prying that frozen lid off.