Ed Rishell, Master Gardener, Virginia Cooperative Extension

What Is Composting?

Composting, through manipulation and control, speeds up the natural decomposition of organic matter. It requires optimizing the conditions favorable to the mixed population of microorganisms (mainly bacteria, fungi, and actinomycetes) responsible for the decomposition. These microbes, normally found on the surface of leaves, grass clippings, and other organic materials, thrive in a warm, moist, aerobic (oxygen-rich) environment. Large amounts of organic kitchen, garden, lawn, and landscape refuse can be reduced in a relatively short time to a pile of dark, crumbly, humus-like material that makes an ideal soil amendment.

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