Composting, often described as nature’s way of recycling, is
the biological process of breaking up of the organic waste such as food waste,
manure, leaves, grass trimmings, paper, worms, and coffee grounds, etc., into
an extremely useful humus-like substance by various micro-organisms including
bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes in the presence of oxygen. Composting is most
often a natural process that continuously occurs in nature, often without any
assistance from mankind.
Both living plants and annual plants that die at the end of
the season are consumed by animals of all sizes, from larger mammals, birds,
and rodents to worms, insects, and microscopic organisms. The result of this natural
cycle is compost, a combination of digested and undigested food that is left on
the forest floor to create rich, usually soft, sweet-smelling soil.
~ Aerobic Composting - This means to compost with air. High
nitrogen waste (like grass clippings or other green material) will grow
bacteria that will create high temperatures (up to 160 degrees). Organic waste
will break down quickly and is not prone to smell. This type of composting is
high maintenance, since it will need to be turned every couple of days to keep
the air in the system and your temperatures up. It is also likely to require
accurate moisture monitoring. This type of compost is good for large volumes of
~ Anaerobic Composting - This is composting without air.
Anaerobic composting is low maintenance, since you simply throw it in a pile
and wait a couple of years. If you just stack your debris in a pile, it will
generally compact to the point where there is no available air for beneficial
organisms to live. Instead, you will get a very slow working bacteria growing
that does not require air. Your compost may take years to break down (this is
what happens when you throw your food waste in the garbage that goes to the
landfill). Anaerobic composts create the awful smell most people associate with
composting. The bacteria break down the organic materials into harmful
compounds, like ammonia and methane.
~ Vermicomposting - This is most beneficial for composting
food waste. Along with red worms, this includes composting with bacteria,
fungi, insects, and other bugs. Some of these guests break down the organic
materials for the others to eat. Red worms eat the bacteria, fungi, and the
food waste, and then deposit their castings. Oxygen and moisture are required
to keep this compost healthy. This is called medium maintenance compost, since
you need to feed your red worms and monitor the conditions. Organic composting
can be done on many different levels. Since composting does not take any work,
and this is what you elect to do for your organic garden, we always suggest you
compost everything. However, if composting is not for you, we have all of the
organic soils and nutrients you will need to help your garden thrive.