Since composting is a natural act of decomposition of waste, there are optimal temperatures that the break down occurs. In aerobic composting, composting using oxygen, higher temperatures are able to break down certain organisms and the best temperature is at 135° -160° Fahrenheit. This helps destroy weed seeds and other unnecessary components in the composting process.
If given the appropriate conditions of moisture, carbon and nitrogen content, the decomposition process can create the temperatures bemodal mentioned above on its own. You should not need to heat your compost pile to 135F in order for material to decompose. However, it does mean that decomposition will very likely slow down in the winter as the ambient air temperature is much cooler and the necessary micrbes are not as active.
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