Composting in the winter: Your new best friend. (Winter composting 101.)
I have been asked about writing more on ways to promote a healthy life outside of ourselves. With me being a firm believer of “balance is key” here is an article about composting and why it is so important to do.
As many of us have built up our compost piles throughout the summer. And fall. At last, winter is coming. But, dread no more. Winter composting is about to become our new best friend. Believe it or not, is one of the best time for us to compost.
To help make sure that you have a successful winter composting experience. Here are some of the ins-and-outs to it.
Why compost? (Benefits.)
We have all heard it before “Composting is a must for organic gardening”. But the real question is why?
Composting provides gardens with high levels of nutrients that our soil. And plants need to flourish. Providing a high level of Carbon (The brown stuff) and Nitrogen (The green stuff.) Both of these are essential for a healthy garden and or compost pile.
It can help those sandy, hard dry soil area become more usable by adding more moisture.
It helps cut unwanted waste (Fruits, veggies, leaves, and much more.) Not only is it good for the planet but also for your trash can/indoor compost bin space. Organic waste without the right amount of oxygen (like in landfills.) Will produces methane, which is a harmful greenhouse gas that is bad for our ozone.
Composting has been around for ages (Even before we (people) knew what it was.) The list of things we need to set up our winter composting to thrive varying on our goal. An area to use. Materials we have. And how much we want to spend.
Here we will be using one of the most effective methods when it comes to composting in the winter.
- 3 wooden pallets (Or something like this (Depending on the size you can use more.) They are easy to get.)
- Dry leaves. (For insulation, and floor of us. Good to collect during the fall.)
- A couple of Burlap rugs. (Used to keep the heat inside. Most any rugs would work.)
- 2 metal sheets. (Used to keep the snow out and the warmth in. (One for the front (door area) and the other for the top.)
- Now, your waste for the compost. (Leave out the cheese, fats, and meats.)
Bonus; Compost thermometer. (This is a great tool to have especially in the winter.)
How to compost (101)
There are many ways on how we can compost (even in the winter.) But, like anything else in life, it is all about preference. It could be outdoors. Have it’s indoor. We can throw it in a pile. We could dig a hole. Use tarp. Buy a compost bin. And or build our own. (Stay until the end to go over some more of these.)
Here we will be learning on how to build our own (which is found to be one of the best ways to do it.) And manage it. As well as using it.
So we are all on the same page. Composting, in short, is using waste, biodegradable products. And leaves to make high nutrition organic fertilizers.
When stacking all our unwanted leftovers in our pile. The bacteria, worms, microbes, snails, and fungi start to decompose. And break down the enzymes which then begins to heat up. This process will take around 6 months before it is usable fertilizer.
This can place a crucial role in how compost will end up. When we are choosing our location. We want it in a place where it isn’t too inconvenient to get to (especially when it’s cold and or the snow is out.) But, far enough away that the smell won’t interfere us (too much.)
It is good to have it somewhere that is downwind from your living space. Be in a spot where the sun can shine on it. And a safe spot where animals won’t get inside of it.
Now, that we have found our dream site we can start building our compost bin.
With the 3 pallets (Or whatever wood you decided to use) we will place them in an open box position. Then we nail the two side pieces into the middle one on the outer edge. Now, with the metal sheet, we can slide between the front where it is open at. Then, we slide the last metal piece on the top as a cover to close the box completely. (You can use wood for these as well if you don’t have any metal.)
(If we want to have it be more secure we can dig a little trench for the bottom of the box can fit into.)
This is one of the most important parts of our compost pile. We can build our pile anyway that we want (Toss everything in a pile in any order.) But, it will yield the most benefits if we layer in a systematic way.
First, we will want to start with the brown stuff (carbon) to add a barrier from the soil to the pile. (Some nutrition can seep away otherwise.) Then we can add our greens (Vegetable scraps, grass, and more waste. It is best if it is moist.) Followed by a light amount of soil, more greens. Add some more waste product. And for some extra protection from the cold more soil. We can now place our rugs on top. (See image.)
Checking heat & moisture.
We will want to check on how moist and hot it is. Once it gets lower than 80 degrees it won’t decompose as well. We are aiming for around 100 degrees or more (The thermometer helps a lot with this. If not obtainable look for steam coming out of it once we dig a couple of layers in.)
This goes hand in hand with checking for the heat and water levels. We will want to bring everything from the outer and lower levels to the middle. So it can start breaking down from the heat (Feel free to add more to it and or more layering as you go.)
It is best to turn it every 3-7 days until the later stages of maturity. Then we can do it less frequent.
Now, that we have our “fresh” new fertilizer pile we can begin to shift and add it into our soil where we are planting it. We can also add it to the top of already planted crops, and trees.
If time is of the essence and or can’t find the materials. We can dig a hole using the same guidelines as above (Location, turning, and layering.) After the hole is dug and the compost pile made we can then add a tarp over the top of it and use some stones to hold it down.
Key Takeaways. (Recap.)
There are many ways for us to compost even in the winter. Composting is a great way for us to make sure that we know what is inside of our fertilizer. Protect our Ozone from more greenhouse gases (methane.) And save ourselves some room by degrading our unwanted waste.
The materials needed for this vary depending on our level of commitment we want to add. We can use pre-made ones. Ones that we built our own (As shown.) Or we can pile it on a spot on our plot of land.
We want to have it stay anywhere from 100 degrees to more. With the right amount of moisture so it doesn’t dry. And not to wet that it begins to smell. It can take anywhere from 3 months. All the way to a year depending on our nitrogen and carbon levels (green and brown stuff.)
Call to action.
Start the winter off great by getting our fall compost piles ready. Use this how-to and make one of the best fertilizer yet. Feel free to post pictures of yours, share, and comment your thoughts.
We are all in this together but it all starts with you! You are creating history!
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