Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How this Wacky Weather Helps Your Compost Bin

Sometimes I wonder if Mother Nature just likes to mess with our heads in Cincinnati. 20° one week and 65° the next.


But she’s actually doing your compost bin a favor.

Every time it freezes the water inside your food scraps and wet plant material expands, helping to break apart the material’s structure. Water expands by about 9% from the liquid to the solid state and since food scraps have a high water content (40-70%) that means a lot of expansion.

After dozens of freeze-thaw cycles, that banana peel is basically “pre-chewed” and on the fast track for spring bacteria and fungi to finish the job.

The result? If you continue to add food scraps all winter, once the weather warms you won’t have to wait very long for a batch of beautiful finished compost. Meanwhile, your snow-phobic neighbor misses out on the winter composting bounty.

So, as you bring out your winter coat again, you can smile a secret smile because you know what that freeze will do to your compost pile.

Thanks, Mother Nature (with an almost completely sincere, non-sarcastic smile).


  1. Great! I wasn't sure if I was supposed to continue to add stuff. My bin is practically full. I did notice that it did have steam when I stirred it up. Glad to know I will reap the benefits of this "crazy" weather!

    1. That's a great sign if the pile is still steaming! It means your beneficial bacteria are still active so you must have a well built pile. (: