Can I compost in the winter?
Even research teams on the South Pole have composted their garbage successfully! You can retain heat a little longer in the fall by covering the pile and insulating the container, perhaps with bags of leaves. Increasing the amount of "green" or using a compost activator may help keep the temperature up. Keep adding to the compost through the winter: it may not seem to be doing much, but the frozen materials will quickly finish breaking down when spring comes.
What if the pile has an odour?
An earthy scent is normal and inoffensive, but a well-built compost shouldn't produce unpleasant odours. If it does, your problem is either too much "green" stuff (ammonia smell) or too little air (rotten-egg smell). First, aerate the pile. If the odour persists, turn and rebuild the pile with more "brown" materials.
Should I wear gloves to handle compost?
If you haven't composted pet manures, which contain bacteria harmful to humans, there is no need to wear gloves. Finished compost can be handled just as you would garden soil.
How can kitchen wastes be stored for later composting?
Collect food scraps in a plastic container in the fridge or freezer, if you have space... or keep a tightly lidded container handy, covering each addition of compostable food wastes with just enough peat moss or sawdust to control odours.
Should I add ground limestone, soil, or fertilizer?
A perfectly good compost pile can be built out of nothing fancier than leaves and grass clippings. Lime will balance out the pH of a pile of highly acidic materials, like pine needles. However, most compost is naturally close to neutral in pH by the time it is ready for use. A scattering of soil should be added if your compost isn't in contact with the ground, because it is the soil organisms that do the decomposing work. With a variety of ingredients, fertilizer is seldom necessary.
What if the compost pile doesn't heat up?
The odds are that an inactive compost pile just doesn't have enough "greens" in it to start its temperature rising. The answer is to rebuild the pile with more high-nitrogen materials or a "starter" like manure "tea." That will probably solve the problem, but also check that the pile is as moist as a wrung-out sponge.
How do I compost with too many high-nitrogen materials?
You can dig extra "greens" directly into the soil, store some in a freezer or sealed container, buy peat moss to mix with it, or, as a last resort, dry some in the sun to decrease the nitrogen content. Perhaps a composting neighbour can use a donation?
How do I compost with too many high-carbon materials?
This is often a problem in autumn, when there's no shortage of dead leaves. If you have space, bag some and store them for covering up the food scraps you'll add through the winter, or for spring and summer when "browns" are harder to find. Bags of leaves also make insulating windbreaks for compost bins. Or moisten the leaves and store them in sealed bags to begin decomposing. In spring, add them to the compost. Mulching is another alternative, but shred the leaves finely, and again, a composting neighbour might be able to use your surplus.