compost bin in the winter

Master The Art Of Composting In The Winter With These 9 Helpful Tips

Did you know that you can compost in the winter? Even if you live somewhere as far north as Alaska, there are ways to compost indoors and keep your organic waste out of the landfill. While winter composting is certainly slower than composting in the warmer months, its still totally possible! In this blog post, we will discuss some tips for composting in cold months, no matter where you live.

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raking leaves to prepare for composting in the winter

CAN YOU COMPOST IN THE WINTER?

Winter composting certainly presents some unique challenges, but it is by no means impossible.

The key to successful winter composting is understanding the challenges and taking steps to mitigate them. Once you find a system that works for you, winter composting will be no more difficult than any other time of year!

Read on for some helpful tips for composting in the winter.

1. USE UP YOUR OLD COMPOST IN THE FALL

Part of having a successful winter compost bin is proper prior preparation. You’ll want to have plenty of room in your bin for new composting material throughout the winter, so use up any left over compost that you have the the previous spring/summer season.

Ways to use it: spread it around your yard with a compost spreader, use it to fill your raised garden beds, or even donate it to friends or family if you truly don’t have a use for what you have leftover.

2. GATHER LEAVES IN THE FALL

Don’t throw away your leaves in those brown paper bags! Instead, gather up as many leaves as you can, and store them for use throughout the winter and the rest of the year.

Leaves make an excellent insulator for your compost pile and will help keep it warm throughout the winter. They also provide much-needed carbon to balance out the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio in your compost pile.

You’ll want to add a thick layer of dry, brown leaves as often as you add new green material to your winter compost pile.

3. CHOOSE THE BEST LOCATION FOR YOUR WINTER COMPOSTING BIN

There are a number of things you’ll want to consider when choosing the best spot for your winter compost bin.

Sunshine

Every bit of heat that you can get to your compost pile will help speed up the decomposition process. Try to find a spot on your property where your bin will get sunshine for as many hours a day as possible. The heat from the sun will keep your compost a bit warmer!

Near a wall

Insulation is an important factor when it comes to keeping your compost bin as warm as possible in the winter. One thing that can help is to place your bin against an exterior wall of your home. Any heat that escapes from your home will help keep the compost bin warm, as well as somewhat shield it from wind and rain.

A south-facing wall (in the Northern hemisphere) or a north-facing wall (in the Southern hemisphere) will get the most sunlight.

Convenience

When choosing your winter compost spot, also consider how difficult it will be to deliver your kitchen scraps out there 1-2 times a day to empty your indoor compost collector. You’ll be trudging through snow, facing frigid temps, and shivering in the bitter wind. Consider a spot close to your house, or find a way to store a larger amount of scraps inside your house so that you won’t have to make the trip out to the yard as often.

4. THE BIGGER THE BETTER

When it comes to your winter compost pile, the larger the better. The larger volume will create insulation that will help keep the center of the pile warm. This will help maintain an environment that is conducive to the decomposing bacteria, and thus speed up the decomposition process!

If you have an open compost pile, aim for a pile that is at least three feet high and four feet wide for best results.

5. TAKE YOUR WINTER COMPOST PILE’S TEMPERATURE

If you want to be sure that your winter compost pile is still active, use a compost thermometer to see what the temperature is inside! As long as the temperature at the center of pile is above about 55 degrees Fahrenheit, the microbes should still be active and doing their work of decomposition.

6. CONTINUE ADDING KITCHEN SCRAPS

You can continue adding scraps of food and other green materials throughout the winter. The slower decomposition process in the cold months doesn’t mean that your pile won’t eventually turn into rich, black compost. Just be patient and add new material as often as you can!

Just make sure to add a nice, thick layer of brown materials on top of the pile each time you add new green material for extra insulation

7. DON’T TURN THE PILE

Turning your compost pile is an essential part of composting in the warmer months, so it might be surprising to hear that it’s something you should stop doing in the winter.

But it’s true.

You shouldn’t your compost pile in the winter, or at least, don’t turn your it as often. Doing too much turning can cause the pile to lose too much heat and get too cold for the decomposing bacteria to thrive.

8. BRING YOUR COMPOST BIN INSIDE

If you have a bin that’s totally enclosed, such as a compost tumbler, you can actually bring it inside your house! If you have the space, this is a great solution for winter composting. The shed, garage, or basement are perfect locations to keep your composting process moving along in the colder months. Bring the bin indoors and continue adding green and brown materials just like you would in the spring or summer.

9. CONSIDER AN INDOOR COMPOSTING METHOD

Winter composting presents challenges such that you may want to give it up entirely for the season! But the good news is that you can give up outdoor composting without giving up on composting altogether.

There are a number of ways to create compost right inside your home without any unpleasant odors.

Bokashi composting

Bokashi composting is a great way to compost in the winter, especially if you live in a cold climate. Bokashi composting is an indoor composter that uses a special fermentation process to break down organic material.

This process produces very little odor, and can be done indoors without any problems. Bokashi composting is a great way to recycle food scraps, so you can reduce your waste output and help the environment at the same time, in spite of the cold weather outside.

Vermicomposting

Vermicomposting is the process of using worms to break down organic waste. The worms eat the waste and digest it, leaving behind nutrient-rich soil. This soil can then be used in your garden to help plants grow healthy and strong.

To get started with vermicomposting, you’ll need a container, bedding material, food for the worms, and of course, some worms!

You might find that you love these indoor methods of composting so much that you continue using them all year round!

GET STARTED WITH COMPOSTING IN THE WINTER

Composting in the winter can be a little more challenging, but with the right information and some practice it can be easy to do. Follow these tips to get started composting indoors this winter.

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