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Seasonal Composting Tips: What to Do in Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter

Composting is a year-round activity that can adapt to the changing seasons. Each season brings its own set of challenges and opportunities for composting. By following these seasonal composting tips, you can maintain an efficient composting system throughout the year, ensuring a steady supply of nutrient-rich compost for your garden.

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Spring: Awakening Your Compost

  • Aerate and Turn: As temperatures rise, it’s time to aerate your compost pile. Turning the pile reintroduces oxygen, which kick-starts the microbial activity after the winter slowdown.

  • Balance Your Greens and Browns: Spring yard clean-up often provides plenty of ‘browns’ like dried leaves. Balance these with ‘greens’ from your kitchen scraps to maintain a healthy carbon-to-nitrogen ratio.

  • Moisture Check: The spring thaw can make your compost too wet. Add more browns if your pile is soggy or cover it during rainstorms to prevent waterlogging.

Summer: Peak Composting Season

  • Frequent Turning: Higher temperatures accelerate decomposition. Turn your pile regularly to maintain airflow and speed up the composting process.

  • Water as Needed: Summer heat can dry out your compost. If it looks too dry, add water to keep it moist, but not soggy, resembling a wrung-out sponge.

  • Harvest Early Compost: If you started composting in the fall or winter, you might have compost ready to use in your garden by mid-summer.

Fall: Preparing for Winter

  • Add Fall Leaves: Autumn leaves are an excellent source of browns. Store extra leaves to add to your compost throughout the winter.

  • Last Harvest: Finish harvesting your mature compost to make room for new material.

  • Insulate Your Pile: In colder climates, insulate your compost pile with straw or burlap to retain heat and keep the composting process going through the winter.

Winter: Keeping the Cycle Going

  • Maintain Your Compost Bin: Continue adding kitchen scraps to your compost bin. If possible, keep your bin close to the house to make it more convenient during cold weather.

  • Balance Materials: Keep a stash of browns, such as autumn leaves or shredded paper, to balance the greens you add throughout the winter.

  • Monitor Moisture: Snow and rain can make your pile too wet, slow down decomposition, or freeze. Cover your pile to protect it from excess moisture and freezing temperatures.

Year-Round Tips

  • Keep a Compost Bucket in Your Kitchen: A countertop compost bucket makes it easy to collect kitchen scraps.

  • Chop or Shred Larger Items: Smaller pieces decompose faster. Chop or shred garden waste and kitchen scraps to speed up the composting process.

  • Monitor Your Pile: Regularly check the temperature, moisture, and smell of your compost pile. These indicators can help you adjust your composting process as needed.


Adapting your composting practices to the changing seasons can enhance the efficiency of your composting process and ensure a continuous supply of compost. By understanding and responding to the seasonal needs of your compost pile, you can support a vibrant, productive garden year-round.

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