Simple Solutions For Winter Composting
Cold weather does not mean you have to discontinue recycling organics. It can be an excuse to stop, however; just a tiny bit of preparation will allow you to have awesome soil enhancement ready to apply in spring for the summer garden or the satisfaction that comes from keeping the earth just a little greener.
Making compost occurs naturally in all seasons. Microbial activity does slow down at the lower temperatures thus decomposition occurs slower. The good news is if a moderate amount of waste is generated and if you choose to you can continue to collect materials from indoors, and add them to the top of the contents outdoors. The advantage being the only change made would be to add larger amounts of material each trip. The disadvantage would be decomposition activity is only occurring at the center of the batch where it is warmest. If the temperatures are cold enough for continuous snow cover there is also good news. You do not need to turn the contents, just add materials to the top and let nature work, albeit slowly, where the temperature is warm enough.
However if you are a seriously dedicated to recycling organics you can insulate and cover the area and continue regular turning methods. Remember that turning and mixing gets air to the microbes which increases their activity and speeds the rate of converting scraps to soil enrichment. The cover such as a tarp or lid provides moisture control and helps to retain heat. Insulation can be as simple as shelter from wind. An area like a pit in the earth itself, or surround the small composter with cardboard, styrofoam, straw or hay.
A tumbler composter can also continue to be used in cold weather. If you live where the sun shines in winter simply locate your system for maximum heat absorption. Soaking up and retaining the heat of the sun is a good reason to own a black one. With any of the garden composting bins you will want to layer a bit more brown materials such as newspaper or cardboard or paper towels crumpled are usually available, to create air pockets . Moisture levels are just as important in winter as any other time so remember to check for moist, not soggy contents. Sprinkle water on contents to add moisture, add materials from the brown category to decrease moisture as well as tumbling the contents. If the location can be sheltered from the elements higher temperatures and faster decomposition will be easier to achieve. If you are fortunate to have a garage or basement you can bring this type composting bin inside.
One other alternative is to purchase a composting bin which has insulation built in. The Aerobin is made for composting in any temperature and fits on most patios.
Continuing to compost during cold weather is a rewarding experience. You have satisfaction of staying green, saving landfill space, plus you create a natural soil enhancement product at no cost.