Winter Composting is challenging. It's challenging for the microbes, for the stream of compostables and for people like us who just don't want to brave the elements...
I believe in composting, I even think it can help save the world. But if things get tough, like they do in the winter, my system collapses.
We'll start with my winter nightmare...
but rest assured we will move to my great new winter system that I think will work as well for you as it does for me.
week we had a dump of about 50 cm (20 inches) of snow. High winds drove
the snow into deep drifts. The temperature dropped to -40˚ with the
wind chill and stayed there for over a week.
I can pretend that I am so dedicated to composting that I will venture out in the storm to deposit the scraps but I'd be lying.
What I tend to do is just put my compost bucket just out the back door
on the deck. Then I press some other container into action - a pot, a
mixing bowl, a plastic bag. When I fill this one it gets stacked with
the other and soon I have a nasty collection of containers on the deck
each brimming with kitchen scraps, in other words a winter composting nightmare.
When it warms up I get to try
to pry the semi frozen stuff out into the bin I use as my kitchen
compost bin. I need to do this as I will have pretty much all my mixing
bowls out on the deck by the time things start to thaw. Not fun.
This system is nasty. My deck spends the winter looking like heck and I feel badly, a failure on some level.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s happening in winter that makes the whole composting process harder.
It’s just the kitchen scraps...
I want to thank one of my readers for this much better idea for coping with the realities of winter.
Here’s my new and very much improved winter composting system. It consists of
The process is very simple.
The daily chore takes less than a minute and I can do it my jammies if I want. In short I’ll do it.
Buckets - These you may be able to pick up for free from a deli or even from the dump. The 3.5, 5 and 6 gallon pails all have the same size opening so will fit the gamma seal lids. You can buy them at Hardware Stores.
Gamma Seal Lids - I love these lids. They seem pricey but they are very durable and they make your life easier. You can order gamma seal lids from Amazon. Ordering more than one eases the shipping shock.
In my book Spring is here when the compost in my bin suddenly shrinks. It’s a sure signal the microbes have awakened and are starting their work.
My Alberta friends have 12 buckets full of greens to start their compost. By layering shredded leaves - those compost browns - with their winter composting collection they can fill one of those plastic compost bins such as the Earth Machine in short order.
Essentially that’s all you need to do come Spring. Empty your buckets and make sure you are adding enough high carbon material. Check out our Kitchen Compost page for more details.
You’ll have a nice batch of compost in a few months thanks to your winter efforts and you won’t have frozen to death to get there.