Composting Through the Winter? YES!

We are often asked if composting happens at Green Mountain Compost throughout the winter. The answer is a definitive yes.  Billions of micro-organisms in our large compost piles generate more than enough heat to keep the piles cooking all winter long.

So what does this mean for you?  You can keep your food scraps out of the trash all year round!  Food scraps and other organic materials can be dropped off  for composting at any  CSWD Drop-Off Center or at Green Mountain Compost, free of charge, all through the year.  Free 4-gallon buckets and kitchen counter pails are available at the GMC office.

If you are a backyard composter, keep adding food scraps and other organic material to your pile or bin throughout the winter.  Though cold temperatures slow down microbial activity, the center of your compost pile can remain active throughout frigid temperatures if you follow a few simple steps:

  • Make sure your pile is at least a cubic yard of material. Anything less than that that is more likely to  freeze through.  Generally, the larger the pile, the hotter and more active the pile.
  • Protect your pile from the elements by covering it, digging it into the ground, or insulating it with hay bales or other materials.  Placing your pile in a sunny location can increase the temperature.
  • Keep an eye on the moisture.  A pile that is left out in the open can become saturated, which can lead to a frozen, inactive pile.  On the other hand, winter winds can dry out piles.  Check your pile for moisture throughout the winter by giving it the squeeze test:  squeeze some compost in your hand. If it runs down your wrist it’s too wet; if nothing emerges it’s too dry; a few beads of moisture is just right.
  • Feed your pile the right stuff.  Microbes need carbon and nitrogen in the right amounts in order to do the job of decomposing your material.  Create layers of “browns”, (dryer, high-carbon materials such as dry leaves, sawdust, shredded newspaper,) and “greens”, (the wet, nitrogen-rich materials from your kitchen compost pail.)  More browns than greens is the general rule, especially in winter.

Even if your pile freezes into a large “compostacle,” not to worry.  The composting process will start back up again in the spring.

For more information on how to compost anywhere, any time of year, please visit   Stay warm, and keep composting!

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