Winter Composting 101

Winter Composting 101

Winter Composting 101

For those new to composting, winter can seem sort of challenging in regards to how to best practice composting. Thankfully, composting in the winter isn’t as challenging as it may seem if you know the best practices to utilize during colder months. In this article, we’ll highlight several strategies to use in the winter time to keep your composting operation running as successfully as possible when temperatures drop. 


One of the most important elements of composting in the winter is keeping your compost pile insulated and protected from freezing temperatures, which can hinder the decomposition process. One effective way to keep your compost supply warm enough would be to line the inside of your bin with a thick layer of wood chips or sawdust to serve as a layer of insulation from the cold outside. Another method of insulation is to surround the compost bin with bags of leaves or other compostable material to help protect it from the cold. Bins can also be moved to a garden shed, greenhouse, or garage during especially cold freezes. 

Balancing Green and Brown Scraps

The two most essential elements of a compost supply are green matter (nitrogen) and brown matter (carbon). Green refers to kitchen scraps while brown refers to dead leaves, animal manure, etc. It’s essential to have a balance between these two types of matter in your compost pile. One way you can help keep this balance into the winter is to gather leaves in the fall and bag them up for later use in the winter. Since winter time means there’s less leaves and foliage to be found on the ground to place in your bin or tumbler, it’s important to have them saved up and stored for winter. 

Don’t Turn Your Compost Bin if it Freezes

In colder climates where temperatures often dip below freezing, it’s important to not turn your compost tumbler, bin, or pile like you would in the fall or summer. If the compost has frozen, this can damage the tumbler and doesn’t do the compost any good! If the temperature warms up and things begin to thaw it, then it’s okay to turn it. 

Monitoring Moisture

In especially rainy climates, it’s important to make sure there’s as little as water soaking into the compost pile as possible. Covering compost piles with anything to block excess water from getting into the compost is crucial in the winter. This is a reason why COMPOST TUMBLERS are a great resource because they are sealed and weather proof. 

Although winter composting can be a bit challenging and is often contradictory to warm weather composting practices, we hope this quick guide has helped you feel more confident in your ability to continue to practice composting successfully into the winter! To learn more about the various composting products we offer here at Heartland Greenhouse and Garden Supply, check out our COMPOSTING section.