Just because it’s out of sight doesn’t mean it has to be out of mind! In fact, winter offers great benefits to the composting process! Take a look at these tips to help increase the success of your efforts through the colder season.
1- Put those leaves to use! During the winter your compost pile runs short on brown matter as most of what is contributed is green material from your kitchen. Put all those fallen leaves to good use by adding them to your compost pile before the freeze sets in.
2- Is your pile overflowing with leaves? Some compost bins and heaps can only hold so much. If you have a larger leaf pile than what your compost will handle, simply bag up the remainder of your leaves with green matter (kitchen scraps or fresh lawn clippings) to act as mini composting piles. For best results, use thick black garbage bags and leave them in an area that receives as much sun as possible. Come springtime you can add the contents of these bags to your regular pile or bin!
3- When turning your heap in the fall, and just before winter sets in, leave a large pocket of space in the middle of your pile. This has two beneficial factors; it aids in insulation as well as allows room for the oxidation of all those kitchens scraps you add over the winter.
4- Protect your pile! Winter can show us some nasty weather, the better you protect your compost pile the better it will work for you. Providing a wind break and insulating your pile with leaves or straw will ensure the heat stays in and the compost doesn’t freeze through.
5- Dry, windy weather can be a detriment to your compost pile. Take advantage of those beautiful winter days and water sparingly when it’s warm enough for the water to soak in, and won’t immediately freeze.
6- What to add in winter? Stick to kitchen scraps only, and do so in large quantities. Keep a bucket outside your door and once your bucket is full, toss it in the pile! In addition, adding high nitrogen amendments such as alfalfa pellets, blood meal, or finished chicken/steer manure will ensure the temperature and microbe activity stays up.
7- Skip the cold! If an outdoor compost pile just isn’t for you, you can still do your part and reap the benefits of composting by setting up an indoor compost bucket. There are a large variety of sizes available and you can even build one yourself!