From the Farm and My Favorite – Composting in the Winter!

Welcome! It’s Friday everyone! Yippee!

This week went fast for us despite the various health issues that we were dealing with. We get to visit with the family this weekend. It’s been a while.

What was your week like? We’d love to hear more about it.

Since we live in the southwest, winter here isn’t as bad as in the north or along the East Coast. You may be surprised to learn that you can still compost no matter what the weather is like during the winter where you live. Keep reading to learn more about composting during the winter.

It’s a good chance that you’ve heard about composting even if you’ve never tried it. It is said that 23% of the waste in U.S. landfills is yard clippings and food trash. If more people composted, we could keep out of the landfills. Here are the things make up an average compost bin:

1. Browns: Dead leaves and plants, as well as sawdust from untreated wood, and shredded newspapers.

2. Greens: Leftover fruit cores and vegetable peels. Grass clippings and other greenery.

3. Moisture: Content in a compost bin that need moisture without becoming soggy.

4. Heat: Organisms that create heat and that help break down organic material into compost.

5. Oxygen: Add oxygen by regularly turning the content which will prevent bad odor from forming.

Start by layering the browns and greens in a compost bin. You can either build one or buy one – links are at the end of the article. Add water as needed to keep the compost pile moist. Add oxygen by turning the pile regularly. During winter months, if it gets cold where you live, simply modify your composting technique to ensure your compost pile survives the winter.

Begin by saving food scraps indoors. You can get a kitchen compost bin which allows you to add scraps and keep a lid on it to reduce odors. Once the bin is full, take it outdoors and add it to the compost pile.

It is important to insulate an outdoor compost pile to help it retain its heat in colder weather. Insulating can be done by surrounding the compost pile or bin with hay bales, you could hang tarps around the compost pile to block harsh winter winds, you can cover the compost pile with leaves, or add sheets of Styrofoam over the compost pile to hold the heat in. Remember, though, if you use Styrofoam, to weigh it down so it doesn’t come off when the wind blows.

Here are some other tips for composting in the winter:

  • Be sure to empty any finished compost from the pile at the end of fall. Since composting slows down quite a bit during winter months, it is likely the bin will fill up faster. Clear out as much space as you can so you’ll have the room you need for winter.
  • Don’t turn the compost pile during the winter months. This will help lock in as much heat as possible and keep the beneficial bacteria thriving all winter long.
  • Shred or cut all materials to be composted into smaller pieces. The compost process slows down during winter months and smaller pieces will help keep it going by providing more surface to work with.
  • Build your compost pile in an area that gets plenty of sun in the wintertime.
  • If you have it, add nitrogen-rich items such as blood meal or fresh manure to speed up the decomposition process.
  • Instead of composting all fall leaves, save some in bags to add to the compost pile during the winter. They can also be used as an insulator.
  • Keep an eye on your compost pile when the spring thaw begins. If your pile is soggy, add brown content to help it dry out.

It is recommended that compost piles should begin at air temperatures and then heat up to 110 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit before gradually dropping back down over a course of several weeks. High temperatures speed up the decomposition as well as killing weed seeds and diseases. You can use a compost thermometer, but it is not necessary. If your entire pile freezes solid during the winter, it will be ok. The pile will thaw, and the microbes return to begin decomposing your pile when the warmer temperatures begin.

The items below can be helpful for composting indoors and outdoors:

Compost Bins

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
Compost Bin for Kitchen Counter
Bamboozle Food Composter, Indoor Food Compost Bin for Kitchen (Natural)
Under-Counter Indoor Kitchen Food Waste 1.5 gal Compost Container/Bin System by YukChuk
SCD Probiotics All Seasons Indoor Composter

 

1. Compost Bin for Kitchen Counter: Stainless Steel Countertop Compost Container as 1.3 Gallon Indoor Compost Bucket or Counter Composter Pail with Lid, 50 Compost Bags, and 6 Charcoal Filters, Turquoise

This Compost Bin for Kitchen Counters, by Modern Barnhaus, is perfect for small kitchens or apartments. It has a charcoal filter to help your kitchen stay odor free as well as biodegradable liner bags, a user manual, and helpful tips for composting magnet.

2. Bamboozle Food Composter, Indoor Food Compost Bin for Kitchen (Natural)

This Indoor Food Compost Bin, by Bamboozle, is 7”x7”x8.75”. It is biodegradable, dishwasher safe, and is made from bamboo. It come in natural or graphite color.

3. Under-Counter Indoor Kitchen Food Waste 1.5 gal Compost Container/Bin System by YukChuk

This 10.8”x5.8”x11.8” compost container by YukChuk has a 1.5 gallon capacity. The container was featured in the November 2019 issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine.

4. SCD Probiotics All Seasons Indoor Composter, Easy Start Countertop Kitchen Compost Bin with Bokashi – Easily Compost Indoors, Low Odor, Beginner Friendly – K200 Black, Recycled Plastic, 5 gal

This is one of the largest indoor composters available. It helps you recycle food waste and contains both the 5-gallon countertop compost container as well as Bokashi compost starter. It doesn’t require assembly and is everything you need to get started composting and lower your carbon footprint.

Compost Thermometers

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
Compost Soil Thermometer by Greenco, Stainless Steel, Celsius and Fahrenheit Temperature Dial, 20 inch Stem
General Tools PT2020G-220 Analog Soil and Composting Dial Thermometer, Long Stem 20 Inch Probe, 0 to 220 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 to 104 degrees Celsius) Range
REOTEMP Heavy Duty Compost Thermometer – Fahrenheit (36 Inch Stem), Made in the USA

 

1. Compost Soil Thermometer by Greenco, Stainless Steel, Celsius and Fahrenheit Temperature Dial, 20 inch Stem

This 20” compost soil thermometer by Greenco Gardening is made with a reinforced welded bolt between the dial and the stem. The color-coded temperature ranges from 40-180 degrees Fahrenheit and 17.77-82.22 Celsius in 2 degree increments.

2. General Tools PT2020G-220 Analog Soil and Composting Dial Thermometer, Long Stem 20 Inch Probe, 0 to 220 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 to 104 degrees Celsius) Range

This composting thermometer by General Tools is easy to read. It is rustproof and long-lasting steel probe. The probe is 20 inches long. The temperature range is 0 to 220 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. REOTEMP Heavy Duty Compost Thermometer – Fahrenheit (36 Inch Stem), Made in the USA

The 36-inch compost thermometer by REOTEMP is made in the USA and measures from 0 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The dial is hermetically sealed, so it won’t fog up. It is an all stainless steel construction.

Compost tumblers

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
MaxWorks 80699 Garden Compost Bin Tumbler
FCMP Outdoor IM4000 Tumbling Composter, 37 gallons, Black
Miracle-Gro Large Dual Chamber Compost Tumbler

 

1. MaxWorks 80699 Garden Compost Bin Tumbler

A compost tumbler especially designed to make the composting process easy and more effective. Its dual chambers treat the soil waste to decompose in a natural way.  It features aeration holes and air vents with two sliding doors to allow the right amount of oxygen to get inside the compost for quicker and better results.

2. FCMP Outdoor IM4000 Tumbling Composter, 37 gallons, Black

This is the original 8-sides dual chamber tumbling composter. A tumbling composter means you’ll avoid digging and mixing your compost by hand. Turn it 5-6 times a day every 2-3 days and you can compost within as little as 2 weeks.

3. Miracle-Gro Large Dual Chamber Compost Tumbler – Easy-Turn, Fast-Working System – All-Season, Heavy-Duty, High Volume Composter with 2 Sliding Doors (2 – 27.7 gallon / 105 Liter)

Miracle-Gro helps you grow your plants, now they can help you add nutrients back to your soil to make your plants flourish. The unit comes with two 27.7 gallon chambers for a total of 55.4 gallons with a 2-year warranty.

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