Winter Composting Homesteading Gardening Project tips will help you keep the microorganisms that sped up the decomposing process into organic matter. Composting is a process that works to speed up the natural decay of organic material by providing the ideal conditions for detritus-eating organisms to thrive, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The end-product of this concentrated decomposition process is nutrient-rich soil that can help crops, garden plants and trees to grow.
A compost pile has four purposes for homesteaders: air, water, carbon and nitrogen. Bacteria that decompose the organic matter need air and water to survive, carbon for energy, and nitrogen for protein. Heat is a by-product of the process of breaking down the materials. Even with the availability of heat, warm weather does need to come and help speed decomposition and cold weather to slow and stop it. There are a number of ways that some heat can be kept in the compost pile during the winter to prevent decomposition from stopping.
In general, compost piles begin at basic temperatures, rise to 110°F-160°F, and then slowly drops down over the next few weeks. These high temperatures make decomposition faster and kill off any weeds and hidden diseases. A compost thermometer can help you find out what is happening in the compost pile, but if the temperature is lower than ideal in the winter, don’t worry. Just keep putting on any waste and they will still freeze there, and then it will thaw during those sunny days. This cycle will actually help the decomposition.
Spring through fall is the gardening season and winter is our hibernation and plan for next year. But what about composting? Should you compost through the winter? Yes. Remember that volume makes heat, so have a big pile ready and shredding helps to speed the decomposition process. Turn the pile when it officially is winter and make sure it is built under a sunny spot.
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