Composting is an excellent way to not only use up your food and lawn waste, but also create bountiful gardens. Because traditional composting is a heated process where bacteria break down organic material, it can be a challenge for those folks that live in climates that have a very cold Winter season. Here are some Tips For Winter Composting to help you out.
Tips for Winter Composting
Keep things well insulated and warm. You can buy insulated tumblers for this purpose. It helps keep the cold air out so the bacteria stay active. If you don't have the money for an insulated tumbler, there are still some things you can do. If you have a bin that can be moved, moving it just inside the garage can help keep the brisk air away. If you can't move yours, think of ways you can protect it. This is an important factor to consider when starting your compost. If yours is a compost pile and not contained to a bin or structure, consider covering it with a tarp or building a structure to protect it. You can make a simple structure out of scrap wood or even bricks, just as long as you have something to keep the cool wind out of it. The snow that many cold environments get is not always such a problem either, as snow can actually help insulate from the dip in temperatures.
Make sure to keep your pile or bin active by continuously adding to it. You need to keep not only organic material, but the right kind. In the fall, rake up some leaves to add during the winter in parts. Adding a little bit every time you turn you compost and aerate it can help keep things active. You also need to make sure you are balancing out what the bacteria need to thrive on with a good mix of brown and green material. Brown material is anything that is carbon producing (such as the leaves) and green material is anything that is nitrogen producing such as most vegetable kitchen scraps.
Make sure to keep your new compost material small. Since the cold weather will likely slow down your composting, adding things that are already small will help. Crunch the leaves you add to make smaller particles, and when you add new kitchen scraps, make sure to chop them finer as well.
Don't turn over your pile as frequently. This may seem counter-productive, but turning over your pile or tumbling your bin can actually add cold air into your compost that can damage the frail system inside. When the weather is warm, you turn with almost every addition of new material, but in the winter, try to do it as low as once every couple of weeks.
Keep things moist, but don't over-water. The dry winter air can leave your compost begging for moisture, but be sure to only add it in small quantities and don't do it when the weather is extremely frigid. This can cause the moisture inside to freeze and end your composting process.
Do you have any tips for winter composting? I would love to hear them!