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Compost Pile Frozen - What Can I Do?

In a couple of weeks, it will be seed planting time here in zone 5. :D Today I checked my compost pile and it is frozen solid as a brick. :( Two full swings of an ax and I only left a dent. I may have to get the chain saw out or the gunpowder or something. God forbid if I have to use that commercial junk. :oops: If I could get a couple of chunks out, I could nuke it in the microwave to thaw. Does anybody have suggestions? :roll:

Life's Journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body,
but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting,
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Charlie MV
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Electric blanket? Move south? I dunno, it's 75 degrees here today. We freeze at night but rarely during the day.

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Really? Seed starting already? What are you starting so early? I'm in Zone 6/7 border, and I wasn't going to start anything until March (but I haven't done this in a while so I might be off). My grounds pretty solidly frozen too, BTW. :?

If your compost is in a sunny area, maybe covering with a standard soil solarization double layer of clear plastic over black plastic might help thaw things out. What do you think? If I have to start soon, I'm going to have to do something drastic too. :roll: Hmmm... How about surrounding the compost heap with fresh manure (In my case, I would go to a friends' boarding stable and get some from their manure piles out back -- those have been sitting around for a while so they're partly composted) then covering with straw bales (whole of flakes)? Maybe that would get things "cooking" and warm up the pile.... :wink:

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When the ground warns up enough for planting, the compost will be warm enough for amending to your soil or for a compost mulch.

It also should be warm enough to heat it back up.

I am in zone 6, still plenty of snow after those last couple storms.
But there are patches of grass showing through.

Three sides of the compost pile is melted off.

It is supposed to be in the 50's for the next several days.

The neighbor said he was started tomato seeds and I don't know what else

I'll be adding more compost to the garden soon!!

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Mid 60's today, over 70 by Wednesday. Some of my potting soil left out in the wheelbarrel did have ice in it this a.m. Nice soft dirt now though, after today's warm weather.

I don't know why you particularly need compost this early. But then I don't really care what I start my seeds in. The seed starting mix ends up being such a small part of what feeds the roots. I usually just use recycled potting soil/compost mix from the previous season as a base. Then cover with peat moss. Seems to work well, and have had no disease problems using this method. Probably would be better to start the seeds in sterile commercial stuff though, so that the plants don't get exposed to any soil borne problems until after planting time.
Last edited by hendi_alex on Mon Feb 09, 2009 9:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.

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John after wanderin through your site and seeing the pics of the seedlings started in 50% compost I can understand why you want to dig some out to use. (I"d be real careful about popping it into the microwave the smell will drive you out of the house I'm thinking)

I'm no help to you, my compost has been frozen solid since last October and won't be ready to use for a good long time..... :wink:

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JB--patience. My compost pile is solid, also. It will thaw. Covering in black or red plastic may thaw the outside, but it's one, big, insulated, peat brick right now. Besides, compost is usually too hot for starting seeds, IMO. I'm zone 5 also, but there's no way I'd consider putting stuff in the ground now. Er, was I reading this wrong and you weren't talking about outside planting?
Happy Gardening,

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The frozen compost was no match for a mattock. :) With spring coming in a couple of weeks, I would like to see it try it again, Ha-Ha. :lol: The chunks of compost are in the shop thawing out as I speak. I use a microwave I bought at a yard sale for five$ and use it in the garage away from the house. Actually, there is very little smell from the compost when I nuke it. 8) I am mixing soil for making soil blocks for starting seeds. I have a good description of what I am up to in my journal. :wink:

Life's Journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body,
but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting,
"Holy crap what a ride!!"

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Good thing you got it. I was going to suggest a hand grenade LOL. Regards Scott

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frozen compost

here in zone 6 my compost pile is solidly frozen as well. I just don't use it for seed starting. I have an 8 foot long bench with two layers of wire shelving over it, with fluorescents hanging from the shelving. (8 sets of 2 bulb 4' long shop lights, so its 4 bulbs wide across). This gives me 16 running feet of growing space. I've got 8 trays going now, it will be 20 before the indoor season is done. I just use commercial potting mix in it. By the time the plants are ready to be planted outdoors, the compost will be ready to plant them with.

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