Best Materials for Your Winter Compost

Winter composting may involve venturing out into cold, snowy conditions, but the benefits are worth it. Not only does winter composting help provide proper moisture levels for your spring garden, it also creates nutrient-rich soil that can be used to promote healthy plant growth. On top of those benefits, the micro-organisms found in compost helps aerate soil, breaking down materials that can cause plant disease. It's important to note, though, that due to colder temperatures, winter composting does require more attention to detail to ensure a functioning decomposition process.

Two essential components of winter composting are the materials you use, and the ratio in which you add them. These factors help composts maintain a hot core, which is key to keeping the composting process going year-round. As a general rule of thumb, winter composts should be 2/3 part high carbon materials and 1/3 part high nitrogen materials.

High carbon materials include:
    - Shredded leaves
    - Twigs
    - Wood ashes
    - Corn cobs
    - Newspaper

High nitrogen materials include:
    - Lawn or plant clippings
    - Fruit and vegetable scraps
    - Coffee grounds
    - Tea bags
    - Eggshells

If you struggle to find materials for your compost, consider finding external sources by going to local coffee shops for grounds, and grocery stores for fruit and vegetable scraps. You can also save lawn and plant clippings throughout the fall and then add to your winter compost throughout the season.

It's best to compost these materials in layers to trap heat in the center. To do so, start with a carbon layer and then layer with soil; add a layer of nitrogen materials, and again coat with soil. The layer of soil helps accelerate the decomposition process and also masks odors. Continue this process throughout the winter.

While there are plenty of materials you can add to your winter compost materials, you should avoid items like weeds, meat, dairy, bones and fish scraps, as these will attract pests and create odor.

The Dirt from Troy-Bilt®
December 2016