The most common way to compost organic material into usable fertilizer is to make use
of the naturally occurring microbes to use the material as food and energy. Other than
ensuring your pile has enough water, food, and air you can leave the rest of the job to the
ever helpful fungi and bacteria.
The types of microbes you want to inhabit your composter are aerobic, meaning they
need oxygen to thrive and live. You can make sure they have enough air by aerating the
compost heap (turning it over with a rake). Another way to ensure there is good air
circulation is to add a material such as wood chips or hay – both are bulky and are not
easily compressed. This makes sure the air can get in and do its job.
The other kind of microbes that can convert your waste are anaerobic (they do not need
oxygen to survive). This may sound like a great alternative – not having to worry if
enough air is available. But the unpleasant side effect of having anaerobic microbes in
your compost bin is the smell. Without enough air, there will be a distinct rotting
garbage smell emanating from your bin.
Another way to compost is to use red worms to help decompose the organic waste. This
form of composting is known as vermicomposting. The red earthworms can quickly turn
your table scraps into compost. To help the process along it is recommended that you
chop or cut the organic material you add to the composter first. This is an optional step
but will yield faster results. Only food scraps, paper or yard waste is recommended for
this type of composting. You can purchase the red worms at your local pet or fishing
supply store – these are not the same worms that you find crawling in your backyard.