We weren’t sure how well composting in winter was going to work – but we were surprised when our horse manure composting rose to 160 degrees. That’s 140 degrees warmer than the ambient temperature on some days!
The ability to compost in winter seems to be dependent on the size and composition of your pile. The larger the pile and the smaller the material the better.
Composting in Winter: 4 Tips
Compost Tip #1: You Need A Big Pile
Piles at least a few feet wide and a few feet tall can insulate the inner compost core and keep it warm. Our bins are 4 feet x 4 feet and really got warm when we reached around the 3 feet tall mark.
Compost Tip #2: Keep Material Size Small
While airflow is good and necessary, too much can slow down composting in the winter. If the material you’re composting isn’t dense enough, the cold air will flow through and prevent the compost from heating up and breaking down. If you have larger material, consider chopping it up or mulching it before putting it in the pile.
Compost Tip #3: Use a Lid, Tarp, or Cover
Use a lid to prevent too much moisture in the form of rain, or snow on your compost pile. With a cover, you can always add more water as necessary. If it rains on your pile and temps drop, you may just have a block of ice instead of an active compost pile.
Compost Tip #4: Monitor your pile.
If you don’t know the temperature of your pile, it can be hard to manage or know just how active your compost pile is. Long Compost Thermometers are cheap and tell you exactly what you need to know.