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Composting in the Winter

If you live in a climate with cold winters, do you compost year-round?  Should you compost year-round?  The answer is, YES!  You can compost throughout the winter.  We usually do, though I've been known to take a break when it's really snowy making it difficult to access our compost bin.  Feel free to keep composting.  

Your compost will stop breaking down during the colder temperatures, but once spring arrives, it will continue.  The University of Illinois Extension explains:  "Low winter temperatures will slow or temporarily stop the composting process. As air temperatures warm up in the spring, microbial activity will resume.”

However, when the temperature drops, microbes that cause your compost to breakdown can sometimes remain active in the compost pile.  The middle of your compost pile can still be warm and actively breaking down because of heat generated by bacteria.  

There are a few tips to help keeping your compost breaking down during the winter months.  

1.  Keep it covered.  If you just have a heap without a compost bin, cover it with a tarp and some bricks.  If you have a bin, make sure you use a lid.  

2.  Make your heap bigger.  Compost like crazy in the warmer months to prep for wintertime.  When your heap is bigger, it will help things continue to break down.

3.  Make a path.  Keep your compost where it's not too difficult to get to in the event of a lot of snow.

4.  Keep it indoors.  If you have a garage or basement, you can put a small compost bin in there.  It will keep your compost warmer, and you can dump it into your outdoor compost when the weather permits.