Start Your Compost Pile This Winter

comments (4) January 30th, 2010

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ChrisMcLaughlin Chris McLaughlin, contributor
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Get a jump on the season and start your compost pile this winter.
Photo by mjmonty under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.Click To Enlarge

Get a jump on the season and start your compost pile this winter.


Photo by mjmonty under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.

You may not be able to use your compost in your vegetable garden right now. But, that shouldn't stop you from creating some. Of course, if you're in the land of still-frozen-soil, your organic material may not begin breaking down as quickly (or at all), but you can be gathering and piling in preparation.

When that snow disappears, you'll want to make haste and get those microbials and macrobials working hard for your soil immediately. Those gardeners in gentler climates will have things going a little bit faster (and no, it's not unfair because you snow people get tulips).

So gather all the greens (nitrogen) you can find. Look for yard waste such grass clippings or perennial trimmings, green leaves, alfalfa meal, hay, and animal poop from rabbits, goats, horses, guinea pigs, chickens and the like (no use dog or cat poop). Drop your greens into an enclosed or open bin.

If you're making a new pile and don't have a true "bin"; stack it on the ground near your garden. The pile should be at least 3" tall and 3' wide to get anything heated and moving in there. Then look for some brown materials (carbon) such as straw, newspaper, dried leaves, paper towels, wood shavings, shredded paper, etc and drop those on top of the greens.

Kitchen waste such as fruit and veggie peelings, tea bags, coffee grounds (filters, too) is more than welcome in compost piles. Here's the key; most people prefer to add kitchen waste into a fully enclosed container so that critters like rats and raccoon (or your dog) aren't called to dinner.

Now grab your garden fork (or ski pole, or whatever is handy) and mix it all up. Be sure you have some moisture in there (don't laugh - cold air doesn't mean your pile is moist). There's no "real formula". Compost creating is an art so just eye it. Don't get hung up on carbon to nitrogen ratios; make it about 50% greens and 50% browns. Be sure it has moisture at all times, and plenty of oxygen. How do you know if it has plenty of oxygen? Turn (mix) it once or twice a week - that's plenty of oxygen.

By the way, if you do use a ski pole to mix up your compost pile, be sure to rinse the pole off when you're done. Because, I know the pole you use will be your husband's.

Video: Composting Made Easy

More on composting...

Video: Composting Made Easy
Let Worms Compost Your Kitchen Scraps
Creating Healthy Compost
• Composting Hot or Cold
Beginners Compost
Composting in Winter

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Comments (4)

Dysonste writes: Great stuff :-)
Posted: 2:46 am on July 2nd
det2 writes: Just listened to the video on creating leaf mold. A couple of quickk questions if anyone has done this effectively.
1. Do you let the mowed leaves stand open to be rained on and snowed on? Or do you contain it?
2. I imagine the result is quite acid. Is there anything it should not be used on as a mulch?

I am bagging my leaves and know I am wasting a resources (and landfill space).


Posted: 4:44 pm on November 17th
bft writes: I have not tried this myself, but this is a well known person in the gardening world.

Perhaps that could work in your space.
Posted: 9:58 pm on February 21st
Morgan2garden writes: I live in the city and I just have no room for a compost container. I have been putting egg shells and coffee grounds right into my garden and containers. Is there any other ways I can compost in a small space?
Posted: 9:19 am on February 20th
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