I’ve composted all summer – now what?

Spread your compost love:

Your compost will ‘cook’ much more slowly in the winter – causing your bin to fill up more quickly, so it is best to empty it out before the winter.  And before the snow makes it’s return for the winter season, it is time to make use of the beautiful compost dirt you have nurtured this summer.

Shovel your compost into the soil of your garden and work it in pretty well. If fall leaves are still available, cover the garden bed with them for the remainder of the winter season.

Tips on composting this winter:

The composting process will still continue through the cold months, just at a slower rate.

-Make things easier on yourself – use a larger compost container under your sink so that you can take fewer trips out to your main compost pile outside.

-It is also best to save some of your fall leaves so that, if needed, you can layer them within your compost during the winter to keep your two main compost ingredients in equal balance. (See our previous composting post for details on compost ingredients.)

-Cut up food scraps into smaller pieces to encourage faster breakdown.

-Be sure your outdoor compost pile gets plenty of winter sunlight to help keep the materials heated as best as possible in the winter.

-Don’t forget to turn the pile once in a while to allow air to get added into the mix.

-Consider worm composting indoors. Jump here for more details on this composting option.

-Spend some of your downtime planning your spring garden!

Freezing temperatures? If you live in a climate with freezing temperatures, consider using a compost bin that can be covered to keep snow from piling on top. If your compost freezers over completely, don’t lose hope. Keep adding to it from your kitchen and wait to turn the pile until the temperature warms up.

And once the spring season comes back around you’ll be a step ahead in getting your much more active compost going.

Let us know how your composting goes this winter!

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Creating a compost pile is a great way to eliminate waste, reduce your carbon footprint, it is the best natural fertilizer for your garden, and it is very easy to get started!

Here’s the Where, What, and How

Where:  Choose a place out of the way, ideally has 1/2 day sun, and away from extremely windy spots.

In What: You can choose to either have you compost pile in a holding bin, a trench, built in holding units, turning units, or in a simple heap.

Tip: Build your own! You can do this easily with stiff wire mesh. It is inexpensive, it will give your compost pile the air it needs, and it will keep your pile all together in one spot.

How: A compost pile needs a variety and equal balance of carbon and nitrogen for the materials to break down and decompose.

Carbon materials are dry materials such as leaves, lint, paper, straw, dried garden debris, and dried grass clippings.

Nitrogen materials are food products like fruits, vegetables, vegetable peels, tea bags, coffee grounds, and shredded cardboard.

Tips for a Successful Compost Pile:

– Your compost pile should remain moist at all times. If it is dry you may want to water the pile, and if it is too wet you can add more carbon materials to soak up the moisture.

– Your pile needs to be turned with a shovel or pitch fork once a week to stop the pile from compacting. A compacted compost pile will have insufficient air and may start to smell.

–  A compost pile needs the right amount of air along with heat. The pile will not heat up if it is too small, too dry, lacks enough air, or lacks enough nitrogen. Try adding more nitrogen materials like fruits and vegetables, adding water, and turning the pile.

– If the compost starts to smell it may be due to not enough air, over-watering, being too compact, or having too much nitrogen. You can add more dried grass and leaves to soak up the water or turn the pile to increase the air flow.

Come fall, your compost pile will have successfully broken down into nutritious dirt, ready to use in your yard and garden!

More compost tips and uses to come.  Check back!

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