How it works
Composting is a biological process that requires food (organic materials), water and air. Composting involves a wide variety of organisms which are naturally present in our environment. These are known as decomposers, or decomposing organisms, and they are specially adapted to eating organic matter.
In the presence of moist conditions and oxygen, decomposing organisms consume organic matter such as vegetative food scraps, dead plants, autumn leaves, pieces of wood and so on, and convert them into a dark and crumbly material called humus or compost. The compost contains nutrients that have been made available by the decomposition of the organic material. This process happens constantly in nature, and is the reason why natural areas such as forests, meadows etc. can survive and thrive – they are examples of perfect recycling in which nothing is wasted.
A huge cast of organisms, including bacteria, protozoa, fungi, moulds, worms, woodlice, and insects, take part in the composting process. Just as they do a perfect job in nature, they can be put to work in your garden – even on your balcony or in your house – to turn organic waste into compost.
Just have a look at the food web of the compost pile below to see how all the different organisms work together. For more check out our download The Biology of Composting.