Wintertime Gardening Part 2: Indoor Composting
Composting is an easy garden related activity that you can do in your home over the winter. It's a simple, natural way to replace the nutrients your plants are leaching from the soil. By the time spring comes around, you'll have some nutrient dense compost to boost the growth and health of your garden. Let's dig in!
Four Items make rich dark compost:
Carbon organic material (browns)
Nitrogen organic material (greens)
If a large outdoor composting system is not for you, try this easy little kitchen scraps bucket! There is a lot of talk about the expense of pre-made indoor composting systems and how if you don’t have a large quantity, a small homemade bucket would work just fine.
Some easy things to start saving from home are coffee grounds, banana peels, rinsed eggshells, and vegetable scraps. For a slightly more complicated (but still easy to make and inexpensive) read Apartment Therapy's How To Make Your Own Indoor Compost Bin.
Another indoor option! Worm bins do best indoors in Wyoming's climate. You can buy a pre-made vermi-setup or build your own! Find detailed instructions for building your own here.
Do get your worms from a reliable source? Find a local source instead of shipping them from abroad. This will greatly reduce the chance of bringing in new species. Don’t choose red earthworms (Lumbricus rubellus). Stick with red wrigglers! Red earthworms have a better chance at surviving cold winters than red wrigglers, and thus could pose an invasive environmental threat. Don’t dispose of worms or compost in the woods or water, as they will survive there. This is the terrestrial equivalent of dumping your aquarium in the local lake. Many species of unwelcome algae, insects, and fish have spread this way. Do freeze your vermicompost for a week before using it outside. This will kill worms and egg cocoons, ensuring that nothing but nutrients will be transferred to your garden.
Compost Stinks… But it doesn’t have to!
If your compost begins to produce a strong, foul odor, ask yourself these questions:
Is the pile too wet? This can be caused by water saturation or too much nitrogen. To adjust you can aerate or turn the pile and add some dry brown materials like cardboard, leaves, newspaper, or fine wood chips.
Too much nitrogen clumped together? Piles of yard waste can lack oxygen and cause a foul smell. This is called an anaerobic environment and can be remedied by breaking up the decaying matter and mixing in some of the brown materials, or by simply spreading it thin to give it more air. This process is seen in the fall when there are mats of leaves smothering your lawn!
Did you add undesirable items to the pile such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, or grease? Remove these items from the pile immediately if possible or turn and cover with brown material to speed up the degradation process. Avoid adding these items to your pile from the start.