How To Compost Soil In The Winter Months For The Upcoming Spring

Since moving out of the city and into the country, and not having that regular garbage pick up through the week, my husband and I had to come up with a way for our garbage not to stink and rot in our home before making the trip to our local landfill.

Sometimes we go once a week, and other times we go once a month.  It is quite a change from living in the city where our garbage was picked up twice a week, and we didn’t have to worry about the smell.

The advantages of living in the country is the vast amount of recycling we have in our local town.  Almost every town around us, including ours, has a recycling depots where you can get rid of your cans, cardboard, paper, and plastic.

In our local area, we don’t have to sort it, we just throw it in a pile.  Everything from large cardboard boxes, to unusual large plastic items such as plastic lawn chairs, 5 gallon buckets, paint buckets are saved from the landfill.  We also have an area for wood and metal as well.  By the end of the season, these piles can get so big, they could cover a football field.  Anything metal is saved from being buried under the dirt forever. Wood such as leaves, branches, trees, 2×4’s, dressers, tables are spit into a large machine and broken down to small wood chips at the end of the season.  I recycle spray paint cans, food cans, metal lids, which are compressed and melted down.  It is encouraging to see things like bikes to construction metal which would otherwise fill up the landfill at our recycling depot.

Back to composting…..

We started composting several years back, and found that it saved our garbage from going rancid. There is nothing worse, I find going into the kitchen and smelling last nights dinner in the garbage.  We throw out our coffee grounds, tea bags, and any food scraps which fall into the metal strainer, which sits at the bottom of our sink.

If you could re-use it, why wouldn’t you?

There is nothing like pouring rich black soil over your garden beds in the spring and through out the summer.  

What has worked for us……..

What we discovered works for us is using a gallon size glass container with a lid, which is stored on our counter top.  The glass container doesn’t have holes, which tends to trap the heat inside, breaking down the contents quicker.  In addition, the smells don’t leak from the glass container.

From there we take it outside and dump it in a metal garbage through the summer months.  The garbage can we use, has holes drilled into the side. The bottom of the metal garbage can is removed.  So once the container is filled, we simply lift it up, and wiggle the contents out on the ground.  It is such a simple concept.

We don’t turn our compost, in fact, we have found, that we simply don’t have to do a thing to it, and nature turns it into black soil for us. Any time we dump something into the outside trash can, we cover it up with dirt.  Last year we were able to gather up several 5 gallon buckets of free soil which was used for our plants.  So in our eyes, composting is worth our time and effort.

The key to our compost container is that it has holes drilled into the side, which allow the compost to breath.  We bought a very expensive tumbler years back from Home Depot, which was a barrel, which had a handle crank on the side, and found it was very hard to manage.  In addition, it broke within a months period, because it was made from plastic.

The garbage we use as a final resting place has no bottom.  When the container is full, we simply roll it slightly for the soil to be broken up and then removed.  I have found I can empty the entire can at once with ease.

Composting In The Winter Months…..

We are in the process of changing the location of where our compost is located on our property, and through the winter months, it can be more difficult to compost.  The food sometimes freezes, rather than breaks down.

One of the challenges is covering up the compost in the cold months.  In the country, you don’t want to throw out meat, and any decomposing matter that is uncovered will draw animals.  Thankfully, soil covers up smells quite well.  However in the winter time, the soil can be hard as a rock because of the melting of the snow and the rain fall.

I have decided to move our composting into our garage through the winter months, which will allow me to cover up the compost with new soil, which I can later transfer outside.

As I go though our transition, here are a couple tips I have found to get on track with composting through the winter cold months:

  •  Lay down a tarp. Putting a tarp over your compost pile will keep the rain off your compost pile.  It also helps contain the internal heat.
  • Dig a hole and bury it. Another tip from the Texas AgriLife Extension Service suggests digging a trench in the garden or flowerbed and adding organic wastes like kitchen scraps.  The hole will insulate your compost pile, which you can then cover it with a tarp.
  • Add organic layers to the mix.  Use a bottom layer of sticks, twigs or straw in order to aerate and to allow earthworms and bugs to climb up. Work in kitchen scraps, shredded newspapers, grass clippings saved from the fall, sawdust from the garage, and wood ash.
  • Make insulation a priority.  Coverings can be as simple as cardboard, straw or brown leaves covering a compost pile.  You can get as detailed as a shelter built and insulated around a bin. A bin can be moved into a garage, greenhouse or shed for added warmth and protection from the wind.
  • Save leaves next fall for the winter months- Municipal nonprofit organization Green Calgary in Alberta, Canada, says as long as your compost is kept above freezing, it continues to work slowly through the winter. Build a windbreak around your pile using hay bales, bags of leaves or tarpaulins. Collect as many leaves as you can in the fall. The leaves act as a carbon source to balance the scraps’ nitrogen.

Ideas For Container Use For Indoor Garage Composting For The Winter Months:

Rubbermaid Commercial FG352600GRAY LLDPE Square Brute 28-Gallon Trash Can $29 On Amazon, White Or Gray On Amazon, Lid $9 On Amazon, Square Dolly for 3256 and 3536 Containers $66 On Amazon

Iris Airtight Storage Container On Wheels 55 or 67 Quart , $25 Amazon

Advantus Rolling Storage Box with Snap Lid, 15-Gallon Size $28 Amazon

Recycle Cart for Recycle Bins, holds up to 400+ pounds, Premium rubber wheels for smooth and easy rolling on pavement, dirt, gravel, grass and even snow. $49 Amazon

Garage Winter Composting Ideas

Work with 5 gallon buckets with lids, which can be stored in the garage through the months.  When the compost is complete, simply re-locate the soil it outside.  5 gallon buckets are easier to pick up compared to larger containers.  Simply transfer the compost into a wheelbarrow to re-locate the around your property.  One bin can hold the compost, and the other will allow you hold fresh dirt to add to the top of the composting pile.  This idea might work for those who live in the country, or in smaller condos in the city.

All Purpose Double Dolly, (Holds (2) standard 3.5 to 7 gallon buckets.) $65 Amazon

Bucket Lid for 5 Gallon Bucket – Black $2.74 On Ebay

DIY Bucket Lid – 5 Gallon $2.74 On Ebay

5 Gallon Bucket, Black $8 dollars On Ebay

Black Bucket w/ Handle, 6 Gallon On Ebay

5 Gallon Bucket Set of 3 Pack of 3 $10 Home Depot