In our northern climate, winter does not have to mean the end of the garden or the end of composting. Here’s what you can do to keep your compost going all year round:
1. Start with a Large Composter or Compost Pile
We suggest a minimum of 4’x4’x4′ to ensure that the center of the pile can stay warm enough for the worms and microorganisms to survive throughout the winter. If you have a smaller bin, it is better than nothing and the worms and microorganisms should return when the weather warms up again in the spring.
2. Start a Worm Bin Indoors or Bring an Existing Bin Inside
f you compost with worms, bring your worm bin inside or in an attached garage that doesn’t drop below freezing in the winter. While some worm cocoons can survive freezing temperatures, worms like red wigglers do not survive freezing temperatures.
3. Keep It Simple
Continue adding your brown and green materials, but know that the compost pile will most likely slow down and/or go dormant until the warm weather of the spring comes back. Keep food scraps covered and reduce the amount of materials going into the composter if you find too much food scraps building up.
4. Keep It Moist
If it is looking a bit dry, don’t be afraid to give it some water. Leftover cooking liquid from potatoes, pasta, or blanching is a great way to avoid simpling tossing that nutrient-filled water down the drain. If your compost bin is exposed to the elements, keep an eye out in the spring when the snow and ice melts and excess moisture may start to flood and compact the materials in your worm bin.
5. Turn the Compost
If weather and temperature permits, give the compost a turn to aerate and mix the different layers together. All compost piles can benefit from turning and adding extra oxygen to the environment which in turn will help speed up the decomposition process.
Composting doesn’t have to be difficult or too time consuming an activity. Even a few minutes once a week can do wonders in producing rich organic matter that will help to ensure your garden stays productive for the long term.