It is essential to keep a healthy compost pile all year round even during the cold dark days of winter! The decomposition process slows down during the winter months due to the decline in temperature, bacteria, mold and mites still manage to work their decomposition magic throughout the winter months. Winter composition requires very little preparation and is easily manageable for most gardeners.
We advise to empty compost bins of all useable compost prior to the onset of winter, you can use the compost around your garden, to line your raised beds or you can even transfer the compost into a dry container with a lid or use in the spring.
The most important factor of winter composting is keeping the compost bin warm, especially if your garden is likely to be affected by harsh winter temperatures and strong winds. To insulate your compost bin we recommend piling straw or hay bales around the bin, this will ensure that all of the bacteria, mold and mites have the energy they need.
The compost concept doesn’t change throughout winter, you’re still going to have layers of browns and greens. The best compost piles layer green kitchen waste, fresh garden waste with browns that include straw, newspaper and dead leaves. The only real difference is that you will need to keep turning your compost heap to a minimum, frequent turning of winter compost may result in heat loss.
As the cold weather slows down the rate of decomposition, reducing the size of your compost pieces helps greatly. Try to chop up food waste before placing into your winter compost bin and shed leaves with a mower before adding to the compost bin. Keep the compost pile moist but not soggy.
If you find that when springs arrives that your compost pile is very wet all you will need to do is add some more browns to the bin, this will help to absorb the excess water.