Composting in Winter with HOTBIN

Composting in Winter with HOTBIN

Winter seems to lack an obvious supply of compostable garden waste, and kitchen peelings and holiday leftovers, take center stage for the compost bin.  This will be plenty for the few weeks following the Holidays.

However, if you are struggling to keep your HOTBIN fed and operating between 104-140°F during the winter months, you may want to know what else is there to add to your composting bin. What else is there? If you have a garden, you may want to look for extra waste that might be hidden underneath (under the snow?).

Early Winter (December)

Autumn leaves, trimmings and branches – if you have any left on the lawn, collect and shred them before adding them to the HOTBIN. Hopefully, you might have already shred them with your mower, before the first snow fall. If possible, don't add them at once, and spread adding them throughout the season to procure adding a good mix of food and garden waste.

Cut back, prune and compost (whereas warmer weather allows)

  • Remaining herbaceous perennials such as Crocosmia and Paeonia to soil level and gently trim perennials showing new basal shoot growth such as Asters.
  • Summer flowering shrubs such as Buddleia, Lavatera and Hydrangea.
  • Blackberry bushes & hybrids.
  • Prune top branches and fruit spurs of open grown fruit trees such as apple and pear (do not prune plum, cherry and greengages) – don’t remove more than 20% of the crown.
  • Grape vines.
  • Woody plants prone to bleeding such as Mulberry, Birches, Acers and Walnuts.
  • Bush roses.
Mid-Winter (January)


  • Gooseberries, redcurrants & white currants back to 8-10 main branches, taking off roughly ½ of last year’s growth.
  • ¼ of the old, weak or unproductive stems of blackcurrants.
  • Wisteria – prune current season’s growth back to within 2-3 buds of older wood

Late-Winter (February)


  • Stems of overwintering Fuchsia to 2 healthy buds to encourage new spring growth
  • Side shoots of Campsis to within 2-3 healthy buds

Cut back:

  • Winter flowers.
  • Late summer & autumn flowering Clematis to their lowest pair of strong buds.
  • Deciduous ornamental grasses.
  • Autumn fruiting raspberry stems to ground level.
  • In mild weather, cut the lawn on the highest blade setting.

All of the garden pruning's and cut backs suggested above can be added into your HOTBIN (with or without food waste) and can help to feed the hot composting bacteria during winter. For larger pieces of waste, we would recommend roughly chopping them up or putting them through the garden shredder (if you wish) before adding into the HOTBIN to help speed up the rate of decomposition.

Don’t forget to add your shredded paper and bulking agent too!

Using Compost in Winter

For some, winter is also a time to start providing the beds and borders with some tender loving care. If you’ve got compost to harvest, why not use some of it to mulch the borders, veg patch and fruit cage and give everything a nutrient boost in time for spring!

Check out our advice for using the kick start bottle during winter

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published