The cold winter season may be creeping up, but that doesn’t mean it’s time for homeowners to forget about their gardens until spring returns. An eco-friendly, money saving trick that many gardeners have started to utilize is making their own organic compost. While many may think that composting can only be done when it’s warm out, this isn’t true. Gardeners can continue to support their compost pile throughout the winter months in order to ensure that they have a fresh, nutrient-filled batch of organic compost for gardening come spring. Here are some tips to keep a compost pile alive and well when the temperatures drop and the snow begins to fall:
- Feed Microbes – Microbes play a vital role in the decomposition process, but in the winter these little organisms move at a much slower pace. In order to stay healthy and active, microbes need to maintain a balanced diet of carbon and nitrogen. Leftover fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds and eggshells are all nitrogen-rich materials that microbes like to feed on, while leaves, straw and shredded newspaper are all rich in carbon. Adding layers of these kitchen scraps and organic materials throughout the winter will keep them happy, full and active.
- Break Up Particles – The larger the scraps are in a compost pile, the more difficult it is for microbes to break them down. To help them out and speed up the process, gardeners can break up food and other scraps into little pieces before throwing them on top of the pile. Particles smaller than two inches are ideal and can also help to form a layer of insulation to keep the heat in.
- Keep the Moisture In – Microbes rely on moisture to survive, and the cold, dry air that comes with winter can pose a threat to a moist compost pile. Draping a tarp over a compost pile not only keeps the heat in, but also preserves the moisture in the compost to keep microbes alive. Gardeners who do this should periodically add water to the pile since it will be shielded from natural sources of water.
Nearly 50% of Americans have gardened in the last year, and over 50% do so to save money on produce by growing their own fruit and vegetable gardens. Organic compost is one of the best natural garden landscaping supplies to promote the growth of these types of gardens, and by taking care of their compost piles throughout the winter, gardeners can start their fruit and vegetable beds off on the right foot as soon as spring arrives.