View this email in your browser

Monthly Newsletter

February 2021
Winter Composting in Montana

Winter composting in Montana is challenging. Compost needs a consistently warm and humid environment for optimal decomposition. Montana is dry, has wild daily temperature swings and is cold. Montana composters have to adapt to these challenges. At Soil Cycle, we've adapted to our own limitations by creating an oversized insulated bin system.

Your average composter is likely familiar with the “three-bin” wooden construction compost system. Each bin is sized at 3’x3’x3’ to hold a yard of material, making for a total of three yards of space. In a state with more welcoming weather these systems work well, but in Montana a single yard of compost can easily freeze solid. My first experience composting in Montana involved me excitedly building a bear-proof three bin system that kept the bears out, but never quite reached the right temperature in the summer due to cool nights. Unfortunately, it froze into a solid block in the winter. Although the pile was slowly breaking down, it quickly became clear that it was not sufficient for composting at a reasonable pace.

A typical 3-bin system widely used for composting. 
To address composting in the winter with our space limitations, Soil Cycle took the three-bin concept and upscaled it by six-fold. We built an eight-bin system with each bin sized at 4’x4’x4’ to take advantage of the ease of use and relatively small footprint of a home-sized bin system with the volume necessary to maintain heat for fast composting throughout the winter. To further increase heat retention, we added 6-inch thick insulative lids to keep heat in and snow off the tops of our piles. You can see our large compost system happily composting away in the dark depths of winter in the center of the garden space at Soil Cycle.
Soil Cycle's oversized bin design improves decomposition processes during winter months.
If you wish to compost at home over the winter and you have deemed indoor worm composting out of the question, or simply have too much material for ease of composting indoors, an outdoor home system can be quite convenient. Make sure to place it in full sun to take advantage of solar heat gain and not too far from your kitchen to make ease of transporting food scraps a quick jaunt instead of a cold dreary trudge. Build the bins using four-foot dimensions and keep in mind a 4’x4’x4’ bin is 2.37 times the size of a 3’x3’x3’ in volume. Keep this in mind and only build two bins instead. The insulative lids are essential for speedy composting over the winter. We sourced our lids from Home Resource and suggest using reclaimed insulative material whenever possible. Build your bins using untreated lumber and use reclaimed lumber if possible. Compost bins slowly break down over their lives, so there’s no need to go fancy. Good luck and stay warm out there.
~Thomas Bassett, Operations Manager & Board Treasurer
Nothing says "I Love You" like worm poop

Our worm castings are now available for purchase at 
Leaf & Quiet and Rockin Rudy's!

Support Soil Cycle, as well as these local businesses,
if you'd like to give your indoor plants (or that special someone)
a treat this Valentine's Day. 
Volunteer Spotlight! Karlissa Skinner

What drew you to volunteer with us?
I wanted to volunteer with Soil Cycle as a way to stay busy and active during these hard times, and I wanted to do something I’m passionate about and that would inspire me. 

How did you become interested in composting and sustainability?
I first became interested in sustainability about 6 years ago, when I started learning about the ethical and environmental impacts of large scale agriculture and the meat industry. Then last summer, because of the pandemic, I was working on a trail crew in remote Idaho. We lived so simply and minimally, we foraged for mushrooms and plants, we built a worm bin for composting. It was magical. And my passion (and growing distress) for the environment was renewed when we came back to the city. That’s when I decided to volunteer with Soil Cycle! 

What volunteer projects are you working on at Soil Cycle?
So far, I have helped build new compost piles, which consists of chopping food waste and other compostable items into manageable sizes and mixing with a carbon source such as dead leaves, then shoveling that into the compost bins and covering it for insulation. I have also helped turn compost piles which ensures a more even and efficient decomposition process. And when I got my first tour of Soil Cycle I got to collect renegade black soldier fly maggots and tuck them back into their enclosure. It’s a beautiful process! 

How do you incorporate sustainability into your own life?
I truly believe the key to sustainability is practicing minimalism in a culture of consumerism. So aside from my involvement with Soil Cycle, I do my best to follow a whole food, plant-based diet and refuse single use plastics as often as possible. It’s not easy but it’s worth it! 

Anything else you want to share?
I genuinely admire Soil Cycle’s commitment to sustainability and I’m honored to contribute to their mission! 

Karlissa, we are honored to have you as part of the Soil Cycle team. We love our volunteers!

Soil Cycle Welcomes New Education Specialist
to Board of Directors
Brynn is a nature lover who believes that the first step to finding your passions is to learn about new things. Her passion for sustainability started at summer camp where she first learned to enjoy and appreciate composting. Brynn then went on to teach about sustainability at an outdoor based preschool and at a science camp. When she’s not at Soil Cycle, you can find her at Snowbowl or enjoying beautiful hikes with her dog. She’s so excited to share the love of compost with the Missoula community, and Soil Cycle is thrilled to welcome her to the team!

February Goals

1. Develop a membership expansion plan
2. Purchase 2 electric cargo bikes
3. Package seeds for sell in Spring
4. Sift compost for Spring

To achieve these goals we need: 

1.  Donations for E-bikes! 
2.  Volunteers 


Thank You For Your Support!

With Love, from our Board and Cyclists! Keep on turning...
Connect, Share
& Follow Us
736 S. 1st. W. Ste. C | Missoula, MT |
Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Soil Cycle · 736 S. 1st St. W. Ste. C. · MIssoula, MT 59801 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp