new to composting--any tips?

I started composting in late summer, bought the Gardener's supply pyramid job. Yes I know, it is a yuppie composter but give me a break, I live in a city neighborhood and I wanted something that looked attractive and had various defenses against bad smells in case something should go awry in the green/brown balance. (cover and charcoal filter).
Over the summer I had no problem keeping the compost between 80 and 110 degrees and the stuff seemed to break down fast judging from the falling level of debris inside. Since October, however, I have had a hard time getting the compost above 55. I realize that the temperature outside probably makes it more difficult for the composter to retain heat but at this rate, the compost will be stalled over the winter.
Here is my modus opperandi: The balance of brown to green has been consistent. We've had extremely dry weather (and the holes in the composter top aren't sufficient to water it when it does rain) so with every 6 inches of material, I add about 4 gallons of water.
I tried using the Gardener's supply compost accellerator and it was hard to mix and figure out unless you were composting in batches. It didn't really work for me, but that may have been a factor of how I applied it. After that was gone, I bought some from Johnny's Seeds which I have been using. I haven't used it enough to say it works or doesn't but my compost is still hovering around 55.
Any tips or ideas?
mm
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You don't say where your live, so I have no idea what your Winter weather is like. And you don't say what you put in your compost pile other than snake oil (I mean "accellerator"), so it's pretty hard to give tips. I can advise not to waste your money on additives to the compost pile. Compost happens naturally. Temperature depends upon lots of things: ingredients, size of ingredients, moisture (I actually like to keep my piles on the dry side, especially to start, because vegetable waste contains so much water), size of pile, and frequency of turning the pile. These all affect temperature. It's pretty hard to keep a pile hot during freezing weather, although one year, when I was working on my piles every day, my most active pile would be frozen on the outside and 140 degrees in the center.
--
Compostman
Washington, DC
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My compost pile has never performed like it should; i.e. no noticeable heat and very long breakdown periods. I have always wondered about adding a septic tank treatment(Rid-ex or equivalent) to the pile, since it's purpose is to break down organic solids. Since the compost is used for flowers instead of vegetables, I do not think unwanted bacteria would be a problem. Has anyone tried this? Any problems with it?
Tiger
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weather is

snake
advise
happens
I took about 3 lbs. of rabbit food (alfalfa pellets), soaked it in about 3 gals. of water, poured it on the bottom third of leaves and covered with the rest and it was visibly steaming by the second day. This is on a compost pile that's 10 ft. round and 5 ft. high. I think that would be safer and cheaper than Rid-ex.
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weather is

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advise
happens
Go here for a discussion on Rid-X: http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/soil/msg1115035520004.html?12
Fito
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pyramid
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the best system I have seen for composting is round bins, toss in a bit of manure once in a while, a bit of dirt for the bacteria, keep it watered and plant around the bins, the water that leaches out of the bins is a fert tea and the plants do fantastic. no need to mess with the compost turning it, etc. Ingrid
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ List Manager: Puregold Goldfish List http://puregold.aquaria.net / www.drsolo.com Solve the problem, dont waste energy finding who's to blame ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Unfortunately, I receive no money, gifts, discounts or other compensation for all the damn work I do, nor for any of the endorsements or recommendations I make.
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in
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Through cooler seasons you won't get heat in a pile of less than a few cubic yards of material without some kind of serious insulation. Even the large piles will freeze a foot or more deep on all surfaces here.
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