The sight of steam rising from a compost pile on a cold winter day is sure to warm the heart of every organic gardener. It’s a sign that when spring comes, you’ll have a batch of fresh compost to use for getting seeds and transplants off to a healthy start in your garden. Frigid weather outside can slow the decomposition process, but you can maintain an essential core of heat, which indicates that crucial microbial activity is occurring inside the pile. “The outside layer of the pile will be ambient temperature,” says Mark Van Horn, a researcher at the University of California-Davis, “but if things are right, the inside of the pile will be hot.” These hints from the experts we spoke to will help keep your compost cooking through winter in any region.
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