Ed. note: This is the second post (read the first one about biodiesel) in the Green Basics series of posts that TreeHugger is writing to provide basic information about important ideas, materials and technologies for new greenies (or those who just need a quick refresher). Read on, about compost and stay tuned!
What is compost?
Compost is the "aerobically derived remnants of organic materials" (thank you Wikipedia), meaning its what you get when you combine the leftovers of plant and animal-based stuff, add a little air, water and nitrogen. The decomposition is performed primarily by aerobes (organisms with oxygen-based metabolism), although larger creatures such as ants, nematodes, and worms (this process is also known as vermiculture) can also contribute. This decomposition occurs naturally except for in extreme anaerobic conditions, like in landfills, very arid deserts or cold weather such as boreal winters or polar regions, which prevent the microbes and other decomposers from thriving. Decomposition happens even in the absence of some of these ingredients, but not as quickly or as pleasantly. Compost is used most often at the consumer level in gardening and agriculture as a fertilizer-type soil additive, and can also often replace commercial fertilizers.Keep reading to learn techniques and tips for how to compost.