A few expert tips on winter composting

November 3, 2015

If you're composting right, steam will keep on rising from your carbon- and nitrogen-rich mixture all winter long, and your pile will continue to break down what you've thrown in it despite the outside temperatures. You just need to know what to add to your compost to keep it active throughout the winter months.

A few expert tips on winter composting

Kitchen scraps

Your green and brown table scraps are the ones that add nitrogen and carbon to your compost. And, in winter, you need more of these nitrogen and carbon rich scraps to keep the microbes inside your compost pile fat and sassy.

Happy, active microbes generate the heat that keeps everything from freezing up. So be sure to keep on adding plenty of coffee grounds, vegetable peelings, and egg shells to your mix all winter long.


Small animal manure, such as that of rabbits or chickens, adds a terrific source of nitrogen.

So, if you keep either of these animals, be sure to deposit the manure you've cleaned out of their pens directly onto your compost.


If you plan to compost throughout winter, raking up those fall leaves is a must. You'll need the carbon they provide to offset all the nitrogen that you introduce from your green vegetable scraps.

Smart gardeners will rake and bag the dry, brown leaves early on so they'll be readily available all season long. Simply add them into your compost as you need them to keep the decomposition going.

Warmth and limited moisture

Be especially vigilant over your compost pile during wintry weather mixes.

Large amounts of rain, ice or snow will saturate your compost pile, slowing or halting the bacterial action it needs to stay active. To prevent the weather from getting in the way, use a tarp or other covering to control how much moisture gets inside.

Moving your pile to the warmest area of the yard is also a good idea when you're planning to engage in winter composting.

Blood meal or rabbit food

If your kitchen scraps slow down during winter due to using more packaged or frozen foods in lieu of fresh garden produce, you can still add the nitrogen your compost needs if you substitute blood meal or rabbit food containing alfalfa pellets.

You should be able to find blood meal in the gardening department of most home improvement centres.

Winter compost is spring-ready

Follow these tips to pay a little extra attention to your compost pile this winter. Doing so will help you get an early start on next spring's planting.

Though, following these tips will help ensure that the soil inside your compost pile will be loose and rich and ready for spring gardening whenever you are.

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