Cycle of Life

How Compost is Made

An essential link in the cycle of life, compost, is full of thousands, if not millions, of creatures who vie for this moist universe. Compost can be made up of newspaper clippings, coffee grounds, fireplace ashes, table scraps, fallen leaves, grass clippings, or any ordinary trash that is thrown away on a daily basis.

In the first stages, an astronomical amount of oxygen-consuming bacteria begin raising the compost temperature to 131 degrees Fahrenheit, a few days after tit has been put into the compost bin. They begin to break down the soft, easily rotted wastes that contain a high amount of nutrients.

Within a week or two you can begin to see fungi with the naked eye. The fungi get their nutrients from the decaying material.

The last plants to appear are called actinomycetes. Different than the heat-producing bacteria, these cannot live in such close proximity to high temperatures. The fungi and this type of bacteria give the compost a spider web appearance and are important to the decomposing process.

Then come the worms, better known as nematodes. These take up quite a bit of space in the compost and just a handful would cradle several million of these microscopic residents.


Stage One:

All of the above-mentioned ingredients help make a compost recipe: leaves, grass clippings, manure, weeds, garbage, etc. The fastest way to produce compost is to leave the area moist and aerated. This way the millions of compost dwellers will be able to break down the ingredients and produce enzymes.

Stage Two:

The bacteria come to life and begin to heat the compost up, destroying pathogens and larvae of harmful insects. The other plants and bacteria that cannot handle the heat begin to grow upon the surface. The fungi attack the tougher debris to allow for easier breakdown of the compost.

Stage Three:

The second round of nature’s decomposers begin to eat decaying vegetation and excrete the compounds. The worms and other creatures tunnel through the compost, allowing for better aeration and faster decomposition. These worms often die and provide food for other microbes and critters.

Stage Four:

After all said and done, we have compost. The texture is that of light, dry matter. Compost now can boost the growing power of soil. Compost allows for better aeration and water retention and helps all types of vegetation grow to their abundant potential.


Compost is a needed resource for better growth and a greener world. Although it may, at times, be disgusting to think about, but what a wonderful way to turn wastes into life. Thus the cycle of life which turns our ordinary waste and byproducts into a life-creating product. Now go plant some flowers! ;)