composting in winter - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 12-09-2010, 10:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi all. we are fairly new to composting, dh bought me a bin for mother's day this year, and we are really committed to it.

We love not puttting our waste out in the trash, and the kids are always digging in the dirt for new worms to add to our collection.


What do I need to do to prep it for the winter. We are in NE. and it is already cold out. It was 17 last night, and I went to add scraps to it, and there are frosty bits inside the bin.

Do I need to cover w/ a tarp?

Add water now and again?

Add leaves on top to help insulate it ?

Do I mix in the top waste? I don't want to disturb the worms and expose them to the cold.


So may questions. There is so much info out there about this, but I always get good advice here on MDC!! :)

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#2 of 4 Old 12-09-2010, 02:11 PM
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I'm a lazy composter.  I have a bucket in the kitchen and when it's empty I take it out to the compost bin.  I just toss everything on the top in the winter. 


IMO the freezing and thawing causes the cell walls to break open which breaks down the material all winter.  Then when it finally thaws in spring it will be ready and available to be transformed into usable compost.  I never turn it until spring.

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#3 of 4 Old 12-09-2010, 02:15 PM
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It has already gone down 1 degree F here at night.


I just keep adding stuff in winter, but don't worry about stirring or adding moisture until the spring. My compost bin usually freezes once it gets wicked cold, and I just keep adding. When it thaws in the spring, you can pick up with managing it for optimum composting.


I don't cover mine either. If you get heavy snows, you will end up with layers of snow and scraps, but it all melts together in the thaw. I would add leaves though, just because they are available now and leaves make good compost mixed with kitchen scraps!!!


Composting is a pretty chill    There isn't a "one right way" to do it!

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#4 of 4 Old 12-30-2010, 11:29 AM
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Welcome to composting! 


The main things that help keep compost from freezing are the size of the pile and the amount of nitrogen.  My pile is just under a cubic yard and usually freezes around the edges but stays steamy in the middle.  (I rarely turn it in the winter.)  Our winters here are probably a good bit warmer than yours.  If you're using a "store-bought" composter there's probably not much you can do to keep it from freezing, due to the size. 


FWIW, I wouldn't add water unless the bottom of the bin drains very freely.  I used to have a friend who brought me her veggie/fruit scraps in an outdoor trashcan with 1/2" holes punched all over it, and water would build up and freeze in layers all winter, then take forever to thaw in the spring.  (I used to hack it apart with a shovel in my bin, where the sun could shine on it.)

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