We know composting is good for the garden and the environment, but did you know you can save food scraps for composting all year-round—even in cold climate?
I’ll show you my simple method, which is actually easier than summer composting. And the best part? You will have a lot more rich compost for your summer garden.
If you’re new to composting, this explains (in simple terms) why it’s smart and essential: How to Have a Happy Garden with Healthy Soil.
A Smart, Time-Saving Winter Composting Method
Compost is a great and beautiful thing and while I treasure it for the garden, I don’t wish to make composting my life’s work.
I live in a cold climate (Ontario, Canada) and have always kept my food scraps for composting all year round. I’ll show you how I keep it really simple, fast, and efficient, without any stinky mess.
If you’re looking for more tasks you can get done in the fall garden (to make winter and spring better): The Most Important Fall Garden Tasks.
1. Set Up Winter Compost Bin
- I use a galvanized trash can with a tight-fitting lid: here’s the galvanized steel one I like at Amazon: Garbage Can (20 Gallon).
- Add a foot (12″) of “The Browns” (carbon-rich goodies including straw and/or newsprint and/or dead leaves) to the bottom of the trash can.
- If possible, keep some extra browns nearby to add during the winter.
- Keep the bin somewhere where you can easily access it during snowy weather (without having to shovel a path, if possible).
2. Collect Kitchen Waste
- “The Greens” (nitrogen-rich goodies) include scraps from fruits and vegetables, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags (no paper or staples, though). No processed foods, meat, or dairy.
3. Freeze The Scraps
I do this step (all year round) because I don’t like the stink of keeping a scrap bin in the kitchen and this avoids fruit flies (which I otherwise get year-round).
- Super Lazy Method: Keep one heavy-duty freezer bag dedicated to kitchen scraps (The Greens) in your freezer.
- Mildly Lazy Method: Chop or blend your scraps into small bits and pieces. Then place in a heavy duty freezer bag in your freezer.
4. Add Frozen Scraps To Winter Bin
- When the freezer bag is full, add the contents to your winter compost bin.
- The scraps will freeze and thaw, depending on the temperatures. Decomposition continues during warm spells.
- Wash out the freezer bag and reuse it over and over again.
- During thaws (when temperatures stay above zero for a few days and we stop losing our minds), if possible, add a layer (4″) of straw, newsprint, and/or dead leaves to the winter compost bin.
You want a good combination of greens and browns in the bin. It’s the greens that get stinky.
Also, the world will not end if you skip this step. You’ll just have very soupy compost in the spring. Nothing a good spray with a garden hose won’t solve.
- During the winter, keep the lid on tight to avoid stink and animal invaders.
6. Spring Time
- In the spring, pour the contents of the winter bin into your regular composter, and dig in additional browns as needed. You want the compost slightly damp but not soaking wet. Add water if needed. And that’s it! That’s easy winter composting.
Truth be told, what you pour out in the spring can be pretty gross, depending on how mild the winter was, but that’s composting! The winter stuff will soon break down (like any other compost) into beautiful humus for the garden. And no kitchen scraps are sent to the landfill. Win. Win.
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