Composting In Cold Weather

by Polly

2810425361_0e2bfa06f1_mDon’t Let Cold Weather Stop You Composting
a new fact
The circle of life begins by feeding the earth. Then, it feeds you.

And, the best way I’ve found to keep Mother Earth healthy is to give her what she needs … thats the goodness that comes from compost.

And, one of those ingredients for compost is the affect of snow.

Yes, cold weather slows down the decomposition process. But it doesn’t halt it completely. Some action continues but at a slower pace. Yes, bacteria, mold, and mites can survive the cold.

Though winter composting is a very gradual process, an infusion of fresh composting matter will give a sleepy compost heap new energy.

How To Compost In Winter:

1. Continue making compost by layering “browns” and “greens”.

The optimum ratio of “browns” to “greens” is 2 : 1.

For “dry browns” you can use leaves, twigs, and dead plants from the garden.
Some other items you can use: pine needles, wood chips, ashes, shredded corn stalks straw, sawdust, peanut shells. Your pets hair can go into the pile too.

Layer “greens” (kitchen compost, fresh garden waste) with browns. This ensures the right ratio of carbon to nitrogen. Eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags, and vegetable and fruit peelings can be converted to compost.

2. Maintain a compost pail.

To reduce your cold winter trips to the composter, use an empty trash can to place your kitchen scraps in.

Make one if you don’t have on. Drill about 2 dozen 1- inch holes into the sides. Cut a sleeve of scrap screen to slip down into the sides of the can (the sleeve should cover all the holes)..

3. Insulate your composting bin or build a wind break.

If you find yourself with an overabundance of leaves, pile them on. As you produce greens( kitchen compost) over the winter, tuck them in under the insulating layer

You can provide extra insulation by surrounding your bin with black bags of leaves or straw/hay bales. Or, try creating a windbreak with a tarp.

4. Reduce particle size of browns and greens.

The smaller the pieces, the faster they will compost

5. Keep it damp.

Winter wind and low humidity can dry out your compost. Add some water to keep those microbes alive.

6. Don’t turn the pile.

The layers of brown and green act like blankets to keep the heat in. Save turning for spring and summer.

Home composting is a fun activity that will give benefits to both the environment and your pocketbook. Homemade compost is the best material you can use to improve your soil and feed your plants.

Here’s My Grandparents’ Backyard Composting:

Yes, composting doesn’t need to be a fancy or labor intensive process if you use the method of my grandparents.

It’s easy. Dig a trench to about a spade’s depth. Put the soil to one side. Add kitchen waste from your kitchen composter to the trench and cover it with the soil.

Once the trench is full, cap it off with the rest of the soil and leave it to settle.

By spring, you’ll have rich planting holes that give your crops a real advantage.

Happy gardening with another episode to come.

Want to know more?

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Yours truly for a great garden with outstanding veggies and flowers.

Polly-organic gardener

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

The Consummate Gardener January 23, 2009 at 3:19 am

I’m so glad I live in FL, where we can compost all year long. Actually, in the summer, our compost piles have to be in a place where they get afternoon shade, or they get too hot. Maybe covered as well, to keep from getting too wet.

Composting in S. Florida is a challenge, I’m telling you! I did it for three years, then decided lasagna gardens and direct composting were better.

Gil January 23, 2009 at 3:37 pm

Here in the wintry North, Brooklyn, we compost pretty much the way you recommend.

We have a pail in the kitchen with a lid that has a filter in it to keep the smell of the compost out of the kitchen and the flies out of the compost.

Once a week, or when it is full, I take the pail to a big container in the back yard and dump the compost into it. We throw some dirt on top once in a while, since we don’t have too many leaves.

The composting box has a door at the side near the bottom where we can take the compost out in the Spring.

It works well.

Polly January 25, 2009 at 1:37 am

Thanks for your reply. I’m going to look into lasagna gardens . They have been my interest for a long time.

Polly January 25, 2009 at 1:39 am

Gil, thanks for your response. Glad it works well for you as well. It works really good for us.

craftpals September 15, 2009 at 9:18 am

Thank you!
I over-watered my compost (using new tumbler compost bin) and what a mess I made.
I haven’t decided what to do with it yet, but I’ll probably dump all the wet mess out and start over.

Composting Enthusiast November 10, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Thanks for writing the post. I definitely have learned something new here. Appreciate it.

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