Thursday, January 1, 2009

Winter Composting

The back porch thermometer read a no-nonsense 6 degrees this morning as I trekked the few steps out to my winter compost container on the deck. Here in Connecticut, composting in the usual manner is impossible from early December 'til early March, as the ground is determinedly frozen.

But that's no reason to relinquish the pleasures of composting. After years of trying various methods of cold-weather recycling of my organic leftovers, here's what I've struck upon as the most successful.

Grab a 30-gallon plastic garbage can, drill holes in it all along the sides and the bottom. (very satisfying, wielding that drill!) Place the can on a deck, an unheated porch, or anywhere convenient for you and where marauding night critters aren't going to cause too much trouble. Commence composting.

That's all there is to it. Of course, you want to follow the basic rules, such as layering, not using bones or meat, etc. Two 30-gallon containers suffice for my household of two for the winter months, and I compost almost everything.......paper towels, soft-walled cardboard cartons, pet hair, coffee grounds, as well as the usual array of stale toast and soggy cereal.

An added benefit of winter composting is that after repeated freeze and thaw cycles, by spring the contents of the makeshift bin has turned into a rich slurry. One caveat-----the can will be heavy as you haul it to the regular compost pile.

But the lumpy, fertile mixture will jump start your warm weather composting; you'll have saved your winter organic garbage from the landfill, and you got lungfuls of brisk winter air most mornings.

What can be be better than that?


  1. Fabulous idea, very practical. We will do this in Calgary, Alberta this year.
    Sherri Barnes
    Willowridge Community Garden.

  2. I love the idea, going to start it today. I live near Buffalo NY and it is cold from now till March.