“Winter” is a relative term, and your winter may be somewhat more harsh than ours in Texas. For more severe or colder winter composting it is possible to maintain an active outdoor compost pile. It froze last night in San Antonio, but my compost pile was a toasty 135F just 5″ from the top. Optimal temperatures for composting range from 135F-160F. The heat is generated from microbial activity that is breaking down the organic waste.
Composting is an easy and inexpensive way to produce your own natural fertilizer. You can purchase tumblers, composting bins, and containers designed especially for composting, or you can also build one yourself for free. I acquired for old wooden pallets from my friends at Murphy Tomatoes, and simply wired them together in a square.
There is a ton of science behind the composting process, and some folks really get into that. I like to keep things simple. After you decide whether to pile, or use a container (build or buy), there are 3 basic things you need. Compost is alive, and the organisms that are active in the process need Food, Air, and Water:
Food: I have added leaves, vegetable waste, horse and cow manure, and coffee grounds in layers.
Air: Periodically, mix up the composting material. The microbes need oxygen to work.
Water: Depending on how much rainfall you have, you will need to water your pile. If it’s dry add, water your compost.
If your compost pile is cool or inactive you can usually fix the problem by adding one or all of the three (food, water, air)