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Me, Some Compost, A Touque, My Bike and the Northwest Lower Michigan Winter

Carter’s Compost has grand plans to continue kitchen scrap pick-ups through the winter here in beautiful Traverse City. With an average snowfall of 318 cm, this might turn out to be a terrible idea but we’re going to give it a go anyway. Even though I was born in sunny southern Arizona, I am half Canadian and I love winter. Skiing at Hickory, sledding at the Civic Center, skating at F&M, snowshoeing in the woods and sometimes biking to school like this time when I was in kindergarten:

From Garfield to South Traverse Heights to Central Grade school and Oryana it’s not just the pulling of kitchen scraps with my bike that I’m worried about. The washing of the buckets in -10C temps, the slowing down of the decomposition in the piles, the frozen banana peels glued to the bucket, and the scarcity of “browns” to mix in will also make winter a challenge. It’ll be tough but rest assured, we have a plan:

1. Run low tire pressure to get more traction on my trusty 20inch mountain bike. Wear mitts instead of gloves and a ski helmet over a touque with goggles in lieu of a bike helmet. Watch for ice. Don’t corner too fast and pay attention. Be a badass not a complainypants.

2. Heat a giant pot of water on the wood stove to wash and scrub the buckets.. I can’t use the hose anymore to power wash them because the hose freezes and I don’t want to bring it in every night to thaw.

3. Size matters. Luckily we’ve amassed some giant piles (4 at roughly a cubic meter in size each) over the summer and fall and they are heating up nicely. Hot piles are important to start with as the cold temps will inevitably slow down the rotting process. Tarp your piles. Same reason you wear a touque on your head in the winter, the tarp will help keep the heat in.

4. I gathered a ton of leaves this fall from my yard, my neighbors yard and from Washington Street plus scored some free straw bales from Oryana so I should be all set with enough “browns” to make through the winter.

5. Worms to the basement. I moved all 9 bins to their winter home in the basement so that they wouldn’t freeze to death. They seem to be happy.

6. Help keep the bike path clear. We are lucky to have an awesome bike path system here in Traverse City called the TART trail. I use it on my pick-ups and last winter they did a wonderful job keeping the trail clear and bikable. This year, Carter’s Compost will be contributing to the effort. We are sponsoring the Murchie Bridge (at the mouth of the Boardman river at the Bay) and thus will be shoveling it with love throughout the winter to help our neighbors get around town on foot or by bike.

Every new business has it’s kinks to work out and I think if you want to have a small scale kitchen scrap pick-upper gig in Northwest Lower Michigan you’ve got to bring it 4 seasons. Three weeks till winter officially starts and I’m ready to roll!

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