Composting Options for the Winter
Composting your leftover food scraps in the winter can be a challenge. With the cold temperatures you can't get things to decompose like you want them to outside. So that leaves you with a few options left on the table.
• Have a large enough outdoor bin to hold a winters worth of scraps.
• Throw everything in the trash
• Set up something inside to compost scraps.
The first option is the one that I am lucky enough to be able to do. My two bins are large enough to hold a winters worth of material so I can just let it pile up until it can starting decomposing in the spring.
I find pallets to be one of the best things you can make compost bins out of since they can usually be found free and are easy to work with. If you want to make one out of pallets you can check out my how to guide.
How to make a compost bin using wood pallets
But if you don't have the space in your yard make one or two of these you can't really keep that much material on hand.
If you want to compost inside you still have a few options depending on how high tech you want to go and how much you want to spend. One product that really jumps out is the Food Cycler Platinum. This handy little gadget can take food fast and turn it into usable compost in a couple of hours
If you don't want to spend the money on something like that which is perfectly understandable your next best option is vermicomposting. Vermicomposting is the use of worms more specifically red wiggler worms to eat up your kitchen scraps. They can do this remarkably fast and with little to no odor. They produce high quality worm casting and compost tea which is best described as plant food on crack. To learn more about vermicomposting check out my Vermicomposting article in my Sustainable How To Guides and this article from the MN Pollution Control Agency on how to build a vermicomposting bin.
5 Gallon Pail Composting
The final option you have is to build your own small scale composter out of a 5 gallon pail. Making one is fairly simple and all you need is a pail, lid and drill.
Take the 5 gallon pail and lid and drill a series of small holes roughly a 1/4 inch in diameter in the lid
Fill the bucket 1/2 to 2/3 full with material at the appropriate 30-1 Carbon to Nitrogen ratio. Typically kitchen waste will be higher in nitrogen than carbon so by using only that you should maintain a good ratio. You may need to add something like sawdust, pine shavings cut up straw to bulk up the mixture and give it a little more carbon to work with.
Moisten the mixture so everything is soaked evenly but water is not pooling the bottom of the bucket.
Roll and shake the bucket until everything is evenly mixed in the bucket.
Place bucket somewhere warm and out the the way to let decomposition begin.
Roll and shake the bucket every few days or when you add material to encourage aeration of the material in the bucket. Keep the materiel evenly moist but well aerated is key to fast non smelly compost
This method will give you compost assuming you can maintain heat, moisture, aeration and the Carbon to Nitrogen ratio. It acts in a similar way to the Nature Mill Ultra Compost Bin but is much more hands since it isn't automated. You will also have to shift the finished compost through a screen to separate out the materials that still need more time.