All About Composting
What is Composting?
Composting is a natural
process that turns organic materials into a dark, rich substance. This
substance, called compost or humus, is a wonderful conditioner for your
soil. As an organic-matter resource, compost has the unique ability to
improve the chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of soils
or growing media. And while compost or humus contains plant nutrients,
it is typically not characterized as a fertilizer.
How is Compost Made?
Compost is produced through the activity of aerobic (oxygen requiring)
microorganisms. These microbes require oxygen, moisture, and food in
order to grow and multiply. When these factors are maintained at optimal
levels, the natural decomposition process is greatly accelerated. The
microbes generate heat, water vapor, and carbon dioxide as they
transform raw materials into a stable soil conditioner.
Active composting is typically characterized by a high-temperature phase
that sanitizes the product and allows a high rate of decomposition,
followed by a lower-temperature phase that allows the product to
stabilize while still decomposing at a lower rate.
Compost can be produced from many “feedstocks” (the raw organic
materials, such as leaves, manures, food scraps wet/soiled papers and certified biodegradable products
). State and federal regulations exist to ensure that only safe and environmentally beneficial composts are marketed.