Project Guide

Tips for Winter Composting

Difficulty: Intermediate Print

As the weather turns cold, it’s a great time to focus your attention on indoor projects. But it’s not necessary to turn your back on your garden altogether, especially when it comes to your compost bin.

Cold temperatures mean that the organisms that break down organic material will work slower. But as long as they don’t freeze, they will remain active. These simple winter compost tips can help you keep your compost working all winter long.

1. Use Existing Compost

Start by using any finished compost from your bin. This will create room for winter compost.

2. Add Leaves and Other Yard Waste

This is a good news, bad news tip. The good news is that all those leaves on the ground can be put to good use insulating your compost bin. The bad news is that you still have to rake them. Adding leaves and other brown yard waste to your compost bin provides carbon to balance out the green, nitrogen-rich food waste. Keep leaves nearby all winter to layer over kitchen scraps to prevent them from freezing.

3. Keep Composting

It’s okay to continue composting all winter long. The key is to manage your expectations and monitor moisture. If you are in a particularly cold climate prone to freezing, you may not see much progress until temperatures warm up. Areas that get a lot of rain or moisture in the winter may need to take care to add leaves more regularly to help reduce moisture.

4. Chop Kitchen Scraps

Because the organisms that create compost are moving slower in the winter, you can help them out with some chopping. The smaller your kitchen scraps are when they reach the compost bin, the more easily they can be digested.

5. Plan for Spring

In between trips to the compost bin, you can start planning that spring garden. With a little luck, some leaves and some TLC, you will have some compost ready to use when the weather warms up.