Winter Composting Tips From Green Mountain Technologies

Winter Compost PictureQuestion: Is it possible to compost in the wintertime?

Answer: Sure.  However, there is less margin for error for composting effectively in severely cold weather.  We have clients that maintain compost temperatures of 140-150 degrees F, with outdoor temperatures of -15 degrees F or less.

Here are some tips for keeping your compost process going strong all winter long:

Recipe.  A correct composting recipe is critical for maintaining 120-140 deg F composting temperatures in cold weather.  If the recipe gets off, temperatures can crash quickly.  It’s best to establish good practices for building a successful recipe in warmer weather.  That way, when cold weather hits, skills are established for maintaining those temperatures.  Hot composting is analogous to a wood fire.  In really cold weather, it is easier to keep a fire going than to start a new fire.

Bulking Agent.   Providing a quality bulking agent is key for cold weather composting.  An effective bulking agent helps the compost pile insulate to itself.  It also provides air pockets that provide the microbes with vital oxygen for the compost process.

Insulation.  For in-vessel systems, insulation for the walls and floor of the vessel helps retain heat in the system.

Freeze Protection.  It is possible to provide heated air or radiant heat to the base of a compost pile.  This is not a substitute for correct recipe, but it can help keep a compost pile from freezing, while the recipe is adjusted.