The Compost Decomposition Process

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Compost is the end product of a complex feeding pattern involving hundreds of different organisms, including bacteria, fungi, worms, and insects. What remains after these organisms break down organic materials is the rich, earthy substance your garden will love. Composting replicates nature’s natural system of breaking down materials on the forest floor. In every forest, grassland, jungle, and garden, plants die, fall to the ground, and decay. They are slowly dismantled by the small organisms living in the soil. Eventually these plant parts disappear into the brown crumbly forest floor. This humus keeps the soil light and fluffy.



Humus is our goal when we start composting. By providing the right environment for the organisms in the compost pile, it is possible to produce excellent compost. We usually want to organize and hasten Mother Nature’s process. By knowing the optimum conditions of heat, moisture, air, and materials, we can speed up the composting process. Besides producing more good soil faster, making the compost faster creates heat which will destroy plant diseases and weed seeds in the pile.




{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bridget Schlaefer September 6, 2011 at 7:41 pm

I live in SE Wisconsin. How long would it take from the time I begin a compost pile until I can use it for fertilizer? Thank you

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steve September 12, 2011 at 3:25 pm

@Bridget Schlaefer, During your warmer months in SE Wisconsin, assuming you have a good mix of browns and greens, keep it moist and aerate it weekly it should break down in 5 to 8 weeks. However, it could take longer if you do not tend to it regularly. When winter arrives, simply keep the compost covered and once spring hit you will be able to mix, moisten and start it right back up.

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