Fall is coming will come to a swift end and preparation for winter will begin soon enough!. The squirrels are foraging, deer are nesting and composters are wondering how to keep their piles warm in the coming winter months. Composting is the easiest way to dispose of materials that most landfills no longer accept, while creating rich, nutrient-rich compost to use on your lawn and garden in the spring and summer months. (LEARN HOW TO WINTER-PREP YOUR GARDEN IN THE ARTICLE BELOW.)
As you rake your leaves, pine needles and dried grasses, keep in mind that these materials are essential to maintain a consistent temperature in your compost pile. They build the “heat” that allows the breakdown process to continue even in the cold months of winter. If your pile is not in need of new “browns” yet, keep these leaves and grasses in a tarp-covered bin so they stay dry until you’re ready to use them. Keeping the temperature between 140 and 160 degrees F is crucial to successfully maintaining a compost pile.
Add to these browns layers of organic food and yard scraps, which keep the nitrogen count in your compost high. These materials, like coffee grinds, vegetable leftovers, mown grass or even egg shells break down fairly quickly and add moisture to your compost.
In the winter, maintain your compost pile as you do in the warm seasons, using layers of these brown and green materials, monitoring the temperature and moisture levels and keeping it turned occasionally to increase air circulation.
If it sounds unappealing to have to schlep out to the compost pile in the dead of winter, there are three steps that can help you in your efforts of green living.
First, you could cover your pile with an extra layer of tarp and weigh down the corners to keep the temperature maintained and the moisture controlled. If you live in colder climates and the extra tarp is not enough, using wood to build a case for your bin to insulate it from the winter winds.
The winter cold slows down the composting process. Make sure your pile is still breaking down its contents by keeping the content pieces smaller. Using a cutting board for leftovers and paper scraps lessons the work your compost pile has to do on its own. Last but not least, if you have ea location in your yard that allows for more sun that where your bin currently sits, moving it into steady access of the suns warming rays, even in winter, can help maintain your proper temperature.
Great – so you’re pile is set to handle the weather, there’s still the little matter of having to brave the cold and wind yourself for the sake of a compost heap. This can sound daunting even to the most devoted of eco-friendly people. Make your season a little easier on yourself by keeping a bucket or small bin in your slop room or garage. As you gather compost materials, layer them in this container until you have enough to carry out to the bin. Keep your layers thicker with small shreds of paper to lessen the risk of strong odors between emptying.