Restart your compost bin in spring
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
If it has been in deep shade for weeks, consider moving it to a
A Compostabin, or other bins with tight fitting
lids, will quickly warm up in the sun and the lid will keep the
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:
the centres of toilet rolls
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.