Composter in winter

Information about composting outdoors during the coldest, darkest months of the year.

Part of good composting is keeping good habits. Composting year round will ensure your routine continues through the coldest months, so you don't have to re-learn those habits each spring. Plus, you'll get a head start on a bigger batch of compost to use through the summer.

Here are a few tips for successful winter composting:

Find the Right Spot

You'll appreciate having your bin in a convenient spot. No one wants to trek through snow drifts all winter, so look for a spot close to the kitchen door that has:

  • exposure to sun, even a few hours of sun on a compost pile can get the microbes working, and
  • shelter from our drying winter winds, like a fence or wall. If you don't have this try putting a few bags of autumn leaves on the exposed side.
Start with an Empty Bin

In September, use any compost you've made so you can go into winter with lots of space ready to receive kitchen scraps. Tip: Recent studies show that biodiversity in your compost increases over time. If you have space then consider storing your finished compost until June.

Spread fine compost on your lawn; unfinished material can be dug into flower or vegetable beds where it will finish composting over the long winter.

Add a half a bag of autumn leaves to the empty bin and you're ready to go. When your bin is about half full, add the other half-bag of leaves. Balancing Greens and Browns is less important in winter because our climate slows the rate of decomposition, but if a warm spell causes things to take off, it's a good idea to have an extra bag of leaves ready.

Ice is Good

Don't let your compost get "freezer burn"!

It needs moisture to work, and ice in the pile will discourage rodents from moving in. Keep it moist!

Did you know that adding snow to your compost pile means you're getting extra nitrogen as well?

Use leftover coffee or tea (a bit of cream is fine), aquarium water, rinse water, or shower with a bucket. Tip: adding moisture early in the day could kick-start the process and keep your bin working until sundown.

Signs of Spring!

You'll notice occasional drops in volume all winter. Then in March or April (depending on how much sun your bin gets), the pile will drop a lot and get warmer.

If the pile gets too warm, poke some holes deep into the pile to let out heat and let in oxygen.

The smell will change as well, so a layer of autumn leaves on top will add a carbon filter to keep your neighbours happy.

If you're new to managing a hot pile and things get out of hand, just give us a call and let us help.

Keep Composting!