Winter composting made simple

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Did you know tossing out your kitchen scraps, even in winter, is like throwing away garden gold?

Heidi Heiland, of Heidi's Lifestyle Gardens, shares a simple solution for composting at any time of year. Create a concentrated fertilizer while disposing of kitchen scraps and other debris.

· The bin

Depth between 12" – 18", not clear, top wider than depth for adequate oxygen exchange.
Minimum 15 gallon capacity.
Spigot or drain hole near bottom to prevent water-logging.
Black plastic 'blanket' resting on media to trap humidity (This also limits the number of worms that climb the side of the tub.)

Covered to keep light out and moisture in.
Location of bin: kept out of sun, dark, cool indoor location, optimum temp 75°F.

Examples: under kitchen/laundry sink, utility rooms, closets, storage rooms, entryways, heated shops or garages.

Setting up the bin:

Starter media should be dampened but not soggy for worm home, also known as the 'compost matrix'.
Good material examples: peat moss, shredded coconut hulls, finished compost, coffee grounds, tea bags, molasses.
Bedding – dry top material that soaks up excess food scrap moisture.
Ensure 2" of dry bedding is maintained on top of the compost matrix.

Good material examples: dry autumn leaves, shredded coconut hulls, brown unbleached paper towels, lightly dampened peat moss, shredded ink-free brown cardboard.

Bad material examples: bleached paper, newsprint, hay, grass, straw, colored inks and dyes.
Additives – ground up eggshells for calcium needed for reproduction, fine grain sand or gritty soil needed for digestive processes.
Add worms – tip the Red Wiggler worms (Eisenia fetida) onto top of bedding. Watch how fast they bury into the bedding to flee from the light!
Let worms in the new bin rest for a week before feeding.


Start small, ½ cup max in a new 15 gallon bin until worm population can consume larger quantities. Insert food
into compost matrix and cover completely with bedding.

Worms take 3 to 4 weeks to completely digest food. Mentally divide bin into 4 sections. Feed your bin in sections, rotating to a new section each week.

Good food examples: fruits and vegetables, crushed eggshells, lint.

Bad food examples: meat, white flour products, fried foods, processed foods.

For more information contact


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