It’s still pretty chilly in Milwaukee, but things are heating up at our compost sites. All four of our River West sites are back in action, ready for new contributions, and are looking especially good after some spring cleaning. It’s a wonderful thing to behold a once-frozen pile of material having fully thawed out and beginning to reheat as the bacteria rapidly colonize and get back to work in earnest. A little oxygen really helps too. Many open piles go anaerobic in early spring, if only because the thawing process – followed by heavy spring showers – have left a slimy, compacted, and odorous mess, too wet for the kind of bacteria we like to see operating in our compost piles.
The remedy is simple, however, and a little loving goes a long way. So plug your nose, get out a pitchfork, and start flipping and fluffing, adding carbonaceous and fibrous material as needed. Leaves work nicely, but a light sprinkling of wood chips or sawdust will also do the trick. You can even add some sticks, brush, or coarse stalks at strategic layers to create air pockets for further circulation. Your compost pile needs to breathe. And as soon as you give it some air, it will start heating up properly again.