Can You Compost in the Winter?
Yes. If you are composting outdoors your composting can continue even when the weather gets below freezing. The decomposition process will slow down as the temperature drops, but if the compost pile is not completely frozen it will not stop completely.
If you compost with an indoor composter, the weather change won't affect your compost schedule.
Tips & Tricks to Compost in the Winter
If you are planning to compost in the winter, there are some simple things you can do to make things move more quickly and help your compost pile. Keep your outdoor compost pile working all year long with these tips.
Prepare for Winter
Remove Finished Compost Before Winter
Since decomposition is slow, your compost and quickly build up in the winter. To keep it from getting out of hand, use any finished compost that you can. Use as much of your compost as you can on your raised beds or around the garden. You can also store it in bins for use in the spring.
Stock Up on Browns to Layer
Layering browns and greens is important at any time of the year but especially during the winter months. If you have too many greens, you will end up with a soggy, stinky mess in the spring. A good mix of greens and browns is a 4:1 brown to greens ratio. It can also help to add a small amount of soil between each layer.
“Browns” are high in carbon, often dry, and will help reduce odors from your compost. Browns are high in carbon and will help reduce odors from your compost. These can include leaves, corn stalks, newspaper, dried grass clippings, paper, straw, and sawdust for example.
“Greens” are high in nitrogen and can include weeds, more food scraps, grass clippings or plants.
It will be easy to find more greens for your compost throughout the winter as you have more kitchen scraps, however, browns will be more difficult to find. As leaves fall in Autumn, it is a good idea to keep leaves them in bags and use them throughout the year for your compost pile. You can also stockpile pine needles throughout the year to ensure you have enough browns to get you through the winter.
Use Small Pieces
One way to help speed up the pace of decomposition during the winter months is to be sure to keep what you throw into the compost pile small. When you are able, cut up anything that you are placing in your compost pile into small pieces. This will increase the surface area, allowing for quicker decomposition.
Keep Your Pile Insulated Naturally
To keep decomposition going in the winter, it is essential to keep the center of your pile warm. To do this, you can provide natural insulation and hold off on rotating your pile until Spring.
If you are composting outdoors, think of ways to provide natural insulation for your compost. Stack straw bales around the compost pile to buffer from the cold or use the bags of leaves you collected in the fall to protect the pile from the cold.
If you have a compost bin, rather than a compost pile, you can line barrel with straw or leaves. You may also be able to move your compost bin into a shed or garage for the winter months to keep the wind off of it and help maintain warmth.
As temperatures climb in the Spring, keep in mind that the moisture in your pile needs to be closely monitored. Melting snow can quickly lead to excess water in your pile so be sure to start rotating your pile again as temperatures increase.
Perhaps the best way to compost in the winter, is to bring the composting process indoors. You can compost without the need to bundle up! At beyondGREEN we have an automatic electric Kitchen Waste Composter that has the capacity to compost everyday items such as food scraps, coffee grounds, wood shavings, grains, and more. This composter is ten times faster than the average backyard composter and the best part is that it runs at the same pace throughout the winter!
Our composter is also energy efficient. The construction allows for maximum heat insulation and controls internal temperatures while also maximizing the energy used to heat the food waste for fast composting. These factors reduce the overall energy used for the composting process. It is made from recyclable products and are 100% recyclable themselves.