Compost heap for heating during bloom

What do you guys think about using a compost heap to provide heat during blossom time?

I made a heap a couple of weeks ago, stuck my hand in and almost burned myself and got the idea.

I live in the southern rockies and late freezes have caused total crop failures for the last four years or so–you may recall Mile hi girl’s frustration. Ambient temperatures that time if year are high twenties to mid fifties.

I don’t do the usual ‘granola’ type compost heap. Rather, I get a large pickup truck load of wood chips 1,000 pounds or so, put a kilo of urea dissolved in 40 gallons of water added gradually as I empty the wheelbarrows, mixed in with a like amount of urea pellets. Experience tells me the pile cooks pretty good for about 12 days, which is about what I need.

What I would do would be to preposition the pile in late winter on a tarp near the tree —i don’t want excess urea leaching into the ground. When bud swell started, I would add the urea dissolved in water, perhaps with another tarp up top, dark side out to help fire up the process. The heat would protect the blossoms. Maybe I would rake away a couple of inches of the insulating layer at night on cold days.

Sure it’s only one or two trees, but a tree full of ‘Redhavens’ sounds pretty good right now. I don’t have access to a lot of electric and the trees are way back there. Wife put the kibosh on a stack heater.

Should the heap be to the west with the prevailing wind, or to the north where the cold weather comes from?

Also, how would you manage the heap for maximum heat?

koko, there isn’t enough heat generated in a compost pile to make any difference where close proximity open air transfer is the medium. It just won’t make any difference at all. Sure it is very hot when you put your hand in it, but hold your hand just a foot away in cold weather and the heat is undetectable. Add in the slightest 1 mph breeze and then your doing absolutely nothing.

It should help prevent freeze damage if you could cover the tree on those nights with a damaging freeze. My concern then would be damage from ammonia. That can burn the blossoms right off the tree.

I agree that absent a cover over the tree it won’t likely help. And my experience is that the freeze can occur over 4-6 weeks. So that would be 3-4 piles.

Yeah, probably… I noticed a few trees near pavement with fruit and thought I could at least match that.

It sounds like it could work well on a cold still night but not on a cold windy night… not sure which is more common in spring cold snaps where you are.