If you use an outdoor compost tumbler, or otherwise do your composting outdoors, then you may wonder if you should bother with composting over the winter. The answer is a definitive "Yes!" Composting speeds up the natural decomposition process, allowing organic matter to break down quickly, and it happens during winter too, just at a slower pace. What you're doing when you compost matter is promote the health and propagation of the aerobic bacteria that breaks down plant and other matter to create rich, nutrient-filled compost.
No matter the type of compost bins you use, composting will continue over the winter, generating heat as the bacteria breaks down the organic matter. If you keep up with rotating, turning, or otherwise mixing up the compost matter over the winter, you'll keep the process moving along at its fastest pace. Rotating compost bins make it easier to keep the items inside mixed up, because you only have to turn the crank, rather than get into the bin with a shovel or pitchfork and break it up.
Winter composting won't happen at the same pace as warm weather composting. But even when it's cold outside the microbes that break down organic matter to make compost remain active, and the core of the compost can remain quite warm because of the heat generated by the process. Outer layers, however, will be affected by the ambient temperature.
One thing you may have to worry about over the winter is your compost getting drenched by winter rains and snow. This shouldn't be a problem with many of today's plastic compost bins for sale, because they will keep most of it out. If you're using a traditional compost heap out back, you may need to throw a tarp over it to keep the water from drowning the bacteria that are hard at work creating compost.
When you add to your outdoor compost during the winter, you'll keep the pace of the process going better if you shred the stuff you compost, such as leaves. This will also help keep the pile from succumbing to extreme temperature swings. People who live where there are cold winters find all sorts of ways of coping with extreme temperature. Some will gather compost materials indoors in sealable kitty litter buckets, then simply set them outside until spring. Even during an upper-Midwestern winter, the contents will start to break down and get a head start on springtime.
Some people keep a compost tumbler in the garage and find that it's convenient and efficient. And some people go old school and simply create a contained pile outdoors and let nature work at its own pace over the winter. Whatever method you choose, don't stop composting over the winter. You may not be able to use your glorious compost until warm weather arrives, but you'll be very glad to have it when it's time to start digging in the garden next year. Let your compost bins serve you all year round. Nature may slow down over the winter, but composting can continue as long as you have the right ingredients, the right moisture levels, and regular agitation of the contents being composted.
Jason Bacot - Are you looking to save some money when it comes to your home gardening? Then I suggest you check out our Rotating Compost Bins
and Compost Tumblers
for a natural fertilizer at "Compostbins.Nixtie.com" as soon as possible.