The Home Composter

How to compost

Which bin to choose

Composting safely

Your compost ingredients

Emptying your bin

To Turn or not to Turn?

How long to compost?

Worms and Wormeries

Topical Composting

Kitchen waste

Prickly prunings

Weeds and weeds

Too much grass

Leaves for Leafmould

Seasonal Tips


Advice sheets
Unwelcome Guests

Restart your compost bin in spring

compost bins in snow
Our compost bins have been frozen and covered with snow and itís been too cold for the billions of micro-organisms to work away, turning our kitchen and garden waste into wonderful compost. Now that the temperature is rising a bit and the sun is getting stronger, we can help them get back to work.

The two things they need most just now are warmth and air.

Your bin should be in the sun for some of the day at the moment.
If it has been in deep shade for weeks, consider moving it to a sunnier spot.

A Compostabin
, or other bins with tight fitting lids, will quickly warm up in the sun and the lid will keep the warmth in.

A New Zealand Box is likely to be open at the top and loses heat that way. The snow will have insulated it to some extent, though if you have been adding kitchen waste on top of the snow, the top of the heap will be very cold. The centre of an NZ Box should not have frozen and so will have remained active. To help the rest of the heap get back to life, cover the top with a thick layer of cardboard and/or newspaper. Do this at the end of a sunny afternoon to conserve what warmth it has gained. The micro-organisms also generate heat and the covering will keep this in.

Your bin needs air in the middle not at the sides. Keep the sides solid and even give them some extra insulation.
The best way to introduce air and break up a soggy mess is to turn your bin. See To Turn or not to Turn for the easiest way to do this.
If you have been regularly adding material to your compost bin over the past weeks, youíll probably have a thick layer of kitchen waste on top. This will be slimy and airless after the thaw and will make your bin wet and smelly unless you break it up. So:
Add in dry, fibrous material:
shredded paper,
crumpled newspaper,
kitchen towel,
the centres of toilet rolls
soft cardboard
This sort of material absorbs moisture and creates air pockets.

If you have had to cut off branches or stems broken or split by the snow, you will have material that can shredded and mixed in to the slimy mess in your compost bin. If you do not have a shredder, cut up some of the small twigs and add these, but anything more than 0.5cm in diameter will take a long time to rot down and wonít have changed by the time you want to empty your bin.

If you havenít been near your bin for weeks, now is the time to show it you still care!
First have a look and see how much finished compost there is at the bottom. See Empty your Bin for the easiest way to do this.
Remove the compost that is ready and turn the material that needs to rot down some more. This will introduce air to the heap and help the micro-organisms to get busy.
Then you can start adding kitchen and garden waste to your bin and look forward to more excellent compost at the end of the summer.

Composting problem?
 Contact us if you would like us to answer your query. We'll try to give a helpful answer!

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