Answer: The composting process is done by microorganisms. These microorganisms break down organic matter and, in doing so, generate heat. The temperature of a compost pile is determined by many factors: moisture, components of the pile, how small the components in the pile are, etc. When the outside temperature drops, generally the pile cools off and the microorganisms slow down, shutting down the decomposition process. It is possible to maintain a "hot" pile all winter, but it requires adding appropriate materials and moisture and regularly turning the pile. To stabilize the compost pile for the winter, you will want to cover it with something that will seal it: a coating of wet leaves, plastic tarp, or some other covering that will hold it intact until the weather warms up so that decomposition, and therefore heating, can take place once again.
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