In the heat of summer we gardeners can compost, compost, compost like mad. It is easy to build, turn, and water the compost regularly to create a super soil amendment that is full of nutritious benefits for the garden because of the heat. I’ve been building compost and adding compost to my soil for more than 10 years now and my garden is filled with micronutrients and amazing energy for all these plants. One of my fall chores every year is to prime my compost bin for the winter season. Below are some of my favorite fall compost layering tips.
Successful composting is all about a balance in the bin between nitrogen and carbon materials. Healthy piles or bins usually have about one-third green (nitrogen) materials and two-thirds brown (carbon) materials. Aerating your compost bin can speed the process of decomposition and is easy to do in the heat of summer. In the winter the temperatures cool down and so does your compost pile. While it is absolutely still possible to compost over winter, the process changes because those of us who live in the garden zone 5b or colder arctic tundra like I do are unable to get out to turn a frozen block of compost material.
I like to prepare my compost bin for fall and winter by adding the last of the detritus from the garden beds – crushed or chopped if I am able – then turning the bin well. I top the bin off after turning (see photos below) with a layer of bagged soil which has some beneficial ingredients for the pile. Then I water the whole thing in and try to keep the lid off of the bin in order to encourage water and snow to enter the mixture over the winter season. This fall I’m using Kellogg Garden Organic Organic Select Garden Soil Formulated With BiocharMax. Because this bagged garden soil contains bark fines, peat moss, sand, dehydrated poultry litter, and wood biochar (see top photo), it helps add some special magic to the composting process. We all need a little fall magic, don’t we?
3 Awesome Compost Layering Amendments
- Leaf Mold – We’ve discussed leaf mold in the past (here’s a LINK to a quick how to). Leaf mold is crushed leaves which have been left outside to decompose and makes a lovely addition to your compost bin.
- Grass Clippings – This is a hot nitrogen-rich ingredient and helps encourage compost heat even on cooler days. Be cautious about layering grass clippings on too thickly because too many clippings can create a water proof matted barrier.
- Bagged Soil – My favorites include soils that have a mix of manure, biochar, and other ingredients which will help the compost develop as a complex microbial filled creation. Building a complex organic structure helps the compost break down and work well in the garden. This season I used Kellogg Garden Organic Organic Select Garden Soil Formulated With BiocharMax.
Compost is a delightfully rich ingredient to add every spring to your new garden beds. Updating your compost pile and preparing for winter can give those compost piles a little help over the fall and winter season. Special thanks to Kellogg Garden Organics for sponsoring this year’s winter compost bin and fall compost layering bin story. Try adding a few extra layers to kick-start your cold weather composting and Happy Fall Gardening!