Winter Composting Techniques

Composting is such a great way to process all of the green and brown material that piles up in the acreage landscape.  There are usually lots of shrubs, flowers, tree leaves/seeds and related plants that produce landscape waste and need to be recycled in some way.  For sure, composting is one of the best; after the plant material is processed via composting, the outcome is a great supply of “black gold”, a superior soil amendment for veggie gardens, flower beds and lawn renovation.

In winter, there is usually a stockpile of former plant material that needs to be processed.  Acreage owners have 2 options as what to do with it:

  1. Leave it in a heap and let it start to decompose on its own.  Because of the cold temperatures, hit or miss snow/ice melt and lack of oxygen, Nebraska winters usually mean a delay in the decomposition of these materials.
  2. Take advantage of the 4-5 months of winter and get a head start on making compost.

The second choice is easy to do and requires just a couple of things to accomplish.  First, a late fall and mid-winter turning of the pile.  On nice days, with temperatures in the 40’s or 50’s (yes, that does happen sometimes!), a half hour with a pitch fork in the fresh air is a welcome activity…as long as sufficient stretching of the back, legs, hips and arms is done first.

After turning the pile, a simple but effective second step is to insert an “air tube”, a vertical column with holes in it, into the pile.  The tube can be made of pvc plastic, cardboard or similar materials.  Facilitating air movement into the pile can really speed up the process and help turn the raw materials into a finished beneficial addition for the landscape.

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