In existing compost heaps or bins, decomposition is slower in cooler weather, but does not stop.

“Especially in Alabama, microorganisms can continue to break down compost due to the slightly warmer temperatures of our winters,” said Smith.

However, if several days are below freezing, the composting process can come to a complete standstill. As long as temperatures remain above freezing, the materials in the stack or container will continue to degrade.

During spring, when temperatures continue to rise from winter, the compost will reach a more efficient pace. If a compost heap has collapsed since winter, it can be used in spring gardens. Once the compost has been used, refill the container and continue the cycle.

The hot summer temperatures are perfect for fully cooking compost. This is also the perfect time to use the compost. If it rains less often, use the damp compost to add moisture to the flower beds.

“It’s important to keep the compost piles moist as they fall apart,” said Smith. “Think about the critical ingredients for the microorganisms to thrive.”

Even if summer temperatures in the south can reach unbearably high degrees, it is important to turn the pile. This prevents overheating, increases ventilation and speeds up the whole process. Summer is the time to keep the composting process in perfect working order.