A Nest for All Seasons A Nest for All Seasons: How to Compost in the Winter

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11 January 2011

How to Compost in the Winter

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I've never used compost.  Don't get me wrong, I have MADE plenty of compost, but I have never stuck around in one place long enough to actually USE the compost.  This spring, I will for the first time be able to use some of my own compost :)  That makes me happy...you might think that's weird.  I understand.

However, if you do not think I'm crazy, and you are a fan of decaying food stuffs like me, read on!  This is your super simple how to on making compost in the winter! 

I follow a few extremely simple collection techniques in the winter.  One consists of a bowl.  I put things in it.  ...and then I dump it (see below).  I do this when I am preparing a meal and will have several things to toss in.  It look like this:

A bowl like this can sit on the counter for a few minutes (or hours), but not a few days.  The bugs get hungry too.  Make sure you use a better method if you aren't going to dump it right away.

Dump it where??!?  Well, if you are like me, you don't want to trek to the compost pile in the snow even if it is only 15 feet away from your back door.  It is just not fun on a regular basis*.  So, the trick for me is twofold.  I have an old coffee container with a lid.  If I have a few things to throw in for a few days, it usually goes in there.  Sometimes I just toss whatever is in the bowl out.  It's not a science really.

I also have a pot outside my backdoor.  It has a little bit of soil in it leftover from an old plant (like 2-5 inches).  This soil still has little microbes in it that eat peels and shells and turn it into compost.  I dump my little loads into this pot without stepping outside and the microbes start in on it.  PS  You CANNOT do this is the summer.  It is too hot and your food will attract animals and stink if you don't cover up that green layer (food stuff) with some brown (soil or leaves or newspaper).  Are you confused yet?  Don't be...just look...
Dump your goodies into a pot with a little soil.  Let it sit until it's full, then take it to the REAL compost pile.

What is a REAL compost pile?  Simple.  
A bigger version of your pot with a little soil (brown) and a little food scrap goodness (green).  

Are you confused by the browns and greens?  Don't be.  
Just toss what you've got on a big pile.  Try to put in dead things like leaves and "live" things like banana peels and plants.  

If it stinks, ADD BROWN.

Are you wondering how to keep a compost pile from looking awful?  
The truth is, you can't really.  It is garbage.   You can hide it however!

In the winter, it is harder to hide, but it is no big deal because how many people are strolling through the back of the garden anyway?  In summer, that little bush with tiny berries fills out and right in front of that yellow pole, you can see a few sticks in the snow.  That's actually a baby hydrangea.  It will get big and hide the pile.

You can also decorate your pile with old flowers.
 
Not really...just joking about the decorating part.  It still looks horrible.  Just hide it.  Then let the little microbes do their work.  Turn the whole pile once spring comes and watch it turn into a pile of what looks like dirt.  Spread that dirt (COMPOST!) on your soil around your living plants in the growing season, and watch your beautiful flowers bloom.

Questions?  Just ask!

*Trekking to the compost pile IS fun daily in the summer when the garden is in bloom. 

6 COMMENTS:

Jennifer Tuesday, January 11, 2011  

I have been trying to compost for the past nine months - it is HARD!!! I have the toughest time with browns. Thanks for this great post - at least you make it sound fun!!!

Eliza @ Appalachian Feet Wednesday, January 12, 2011  

Great post! I've had to move gardens for the past few years in a row so I can relate to lamenting all the wonderful compost that gets left behind. :)

Sofie Wednesday, January 12, 2011  

thank you for your kind words!
all the best!
Sofie

grace Wednesday, January 12, 2011  

Soon, I will be the proud owner of worms which will live in a wonderful container with shelves where they will eat my food waste and turn it into compost.
I can't wait. I really enjoyed your compost blog post. We have a lot of the same things in common.

Sarah, Three Boys Sunday, March 06, 2011  

UGH! I am so a fair weather composter. I admit it! I too need to figure out a way to do this in the winter. I am even to lazy to go and dumb it outside of my door in the winter, so sad really. I have been flirting with the worm idea.... still need to think it through more... could be the answer? I don't know.

Sarah, Three Boys Sunday, March 06, 2011  

UGH! I am so a fair weather composter. I admit it! I too need to figure out a way to do this in the winter. I am even to lazy to go and dumb it outside of my door in the winter, so sad really. I have been flirting with the worm idea.... still need to think it through more... could be the answer? I don't know.

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