After surviving the past two winters of bitter cold, it’s important to be prepared this time of year when it comes to backyard composting! First thing you need to do is find a source of fresh wood chips. Find a neighbor doing some tree trimming, or a small tree company in your area one day, and see if they will help you out. Make sure the wood chips are from a deciduous tree- the resin in coniferous trees prevents rapid decomposition and the compost will not reach higher composting temperatures desired to last through a cold winter.
Pile up at least one yard of wood chips (3′ x 3′ x 3′) and get them soaking wet. Depending on the percentage of bark, which adds nitrogen, the pile will heat up to a range of temperatures. Regardless, even wood chips with lots of bark and leaves can still have a high carbon/nitrogen ratio of 300:1. This leaves plenty of room to add vegetable waste throughout the winter before reaching the 30:1 ratio of carbon(browns) to nitrogen(greens) desired.
If you’re confused about what you can add while still keeping an active compost heap, check out this great website below that provides a source calculator. Remember to keep the carbon content high while slowly increasing nitrogen over the winter, and keep your compost heap covered with straw or leaves to maintain a hot, humid environment.