It’s the middle of winter, so composting and seeds and gardening isn’t at the top of everyone’s mind. But, with the New Year came tons of Resolutions (see why I hate New Years’ Resolutions here), and a lot of people have been looking towards living a greener life in 2019. Composting is a great way to cut down on your waste and turn your table scraps, and a few extras, into something actually usable! Best part? You can do it year-round.
Find a Spot
This doesn’t have to be your official compost spot. It’s just the spot for your winter compost. This will, honestly, depend on your climate and your plans for your compost.
For me, I continuously just add my scraps and the like to my regular compost until the snow drifts get too high. Then, I move it over to the garden, digging it a little snow home and plop a box down. The box keeps the scraps from blowing all over the damn place and I can just scoop it up into a wheelbarrow in the spring and move the entire thing over to the Big Pile.
If you’re starting out, and don’t want to worry too much about your compost, you can do the same thing. Find a spot in your garden, dig a hole, plop that box down (or bin) and start filling ‘er up! Then, in Spring, you’ll move it over to a bin, or a compost pile that you’ll continue with in the summer. We can worry about that later.
But, if you’re not like me and want to get that juicy compost for your spring planting, keep it warm. Let the snow drift up and around your pile, use hay bales to block the wind (also great in the compost!), and balance out those greens and browns in winter to keep ‘er going.
Compost smaller pieces than you would in the summer months.
use hay bales like this to keep your compost warm! Plus, look at that dapper, fella.
Get a Can
A plain ol’ metal garbage can with a lid is perfect. Find a spot for that bad boy to go and start your compost!
Add the browns as your bottom layer. Then, add some greens. Then, add a little bit more browns. Then, keep on adding greens. You want to keep your compost 3 parts brown to 1 part green. But, here’s a little secret: it’ll still decompose if you don’t have the right ratio.
But….for those that want to have their compost ready or near-ready for summer: stick to the ratio.
Remember to keep the pile moist, but not too moist (barf). You want it cooking, not soggy. Wet teabags, extra coffee and water-rich vegetables will do the trick.
Keep the lid on your can until it starts to get warm out. Once the compost gets warmer, and the temperatures go up, take that lid off and let it breathe!
This is about the time that you’ll want to start pitchforking it around. Stirring that compost up and getting oxygen into your scraps.
Buy a Tumbler
Because it’s 2019 and the world has come a long way in agriculture, there are insulated tumblers made for winter composting. They’ll keep your compost nice and snuggly and get it primed to become soil.
This way costs a little more than a can (or a box), but is pretty easy to use all year-round.
What to Compost
Browns: leaves, twigs, paper bags, cardboard (rip it up), paper, wood ash, coffee filters
Greens: pretty much all table scraps. Or anything that is literally green. Like that Christmas bouquet you still have sitting around.
Keep out: meat, dairy products, oils and grease, animal droppings (or human if you’re getting weird).
While weeds are green, don’t put them in! Your basic compost will not get hot enough to kill the seeds in the weeds and then you’ll end up just sprinkling weeds all of your damn garden. Not what you want.
Not that you’ll have many weeds in winter…
Once you’ve got your browns and greens in the right ratio, you’re good to start throwing everything in all willy nilly. Mind that you don’t get too many greens, but once it’s started, it’s easier to get the greens and browns co-mingling when it comes time to turn it.
If it’s very cold and your compost won’t heat up, you don’t even have to worry about the ratio. If you’ve too many browns or too many greens, that’s fine! It’s freezing out. Add some more of whatever is needed once it starts to get warmer and you need to start turning it.
The Easiest Way
Sign up for a composting program where they will give you a compost bucket, you fill it up, and then they whisk it away, providing you with a new bucket. Perfect for those that don’t have the room or live in an apartment!
Also, guys, it’s compost. You don’t have to worry so much about it and you definitely don’t have to worry too much about it in winter. It’ll do its thing in the spring once it becomes warmer. My thoughts for winter composting is that I’m getting my compost ready for the NEXT Year.