Seasonal tips from Compost Education Centre’s Site Manager and Community Education Coordinator
›› Alysha Punnett
Fall is a great time of year for composting. Compost ingredients are abundant as you put the garden to bed, dried leaves are plentiful and things have all winter to slowly break down into your spring soil amendment. Below are some tips for composting success through the colder months.
Carbon to Nitrogen ratio
To avoid a compost pile that is too dry or too wet, and to ensure proper decomposition, add equal amounts of carbon-rich (“browns”) and nitrogen-rich (“greens”) materials. The easiest way to achieve this is to add a layer of carbon each time you dump your kitchen scraps bucket into your composter. Not sure how to get browns? Read on for how to make this easy as pumpkin pie!
Often customers who come in to the Compost Education Centre have just been putting “greens” into their compost pile, then wondering why it smells and isn’t really breaking down. This is due to the lack of “browns.” To make life easy, set up a leaf cage right next to your compost pile where you can stockpile leaves as they fall from the trees.
It is necessary to cover your compost pile here on the wet west coast. Winter rains will waterlog a compost pile, drowning the microorganisms you are trying to encourage to breed. It can be as simple as a tarp, however a heavy or locking lid is best to keep rodents out.
On that note, let’s talk rodent protection. As the cold sets in, it’s easy to run out to your composter, dump your kitchen scraps and run back inside to the fire. Rodents take advantage of this time to move in to spaces that would otherwise be disturbed more regularly during the gardening season. Continuing to give your composter a good stir every week will send the signal that it’s not a safe place to set up shop (and will also make you warm!).
To learn more about greens, browns, leaves and rodent protection, attend one of our free workshops or visit our factsheets page at compost.bc.ca.