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Compost Essentials

When getting ready to compost the first thing to think about is, "what do I want to compost?", reduce waste and/or create a great compost. Then the second question should be, "what is the best way to do this?"  For myself, I have aerobically composted for over 50 years (initially thinking it was the only way to get it done). For the past 10 years I have incorporated redworms, night crawlers, fungi and other critters into different types of compost systems to reduce my waste more efficiently and to create a better compost mulch/casting result. 

First lets look at what you want to compost - food waste, leaf debris, grass, manure, wood chips, pine needles...the list can go on. There are several different types of composts that work differently to breakdown different material. The main focus in this section "compost essentials" is to explain different composts for different materials. I have heard many times over, "when I compost nothing happens" and if you are doing the wrong type of compost "nothing" may be happening or very little. Below I will briefly explain the most common types of compost with links to a more in-depth explanation.
 
 
 
The types of compost that I can help you with are the following: Aerobic compost, fungal/ mushroom compost, Larvae compost, Vermicompost and the one to avoid, anaerobic compost. To understand these compost may save you time and money when trying to figure out what system to use for reducing your waste or to create the best type of mulch for your needs. 

Aerobic compost (hot compost) is the most common, quickest and the most labor intensive (by repeatedly turning) compost.  Aerobic composts are usually made of leaf debris and grass clippings. The grass clippings provide the nitrates that feed the bacteria. The speed in which the bacteria reproduce causes friction and results in high temperatures. The leaf material provides the space for airflow that bacteria need to live. As the compost settles the air is cut off and the heat dissipates. Once complete this compost is complete this is a great compost mulch.  More...



Fungal/Mushroom compost is a slow cool compost that is not dependent on temperature for its process to work. This compost can be composed of leaf material, branches, wood chips, sawdust, logs or any combination. The strong cellulose structure of this material is slowly invaded by a fungal network that softens the cells and breaks them down. As time goes the material becomes spongy and can be used as a bedding in a vermicompost as it continues to break down. Another benefit to fungal compost is that edible Mushroooms can be grown from this type of material in a controlled setting. More...


Black soldier fly larvae compost is growing in popularity for it's multi-use benefits. This warm weather creature that can consume all types of food waste and convert the waste into a high protein larva which can be used as a food source for many different types of animals. You can also use the larva waste (fras) as a garden supplement. More...


Redworm compost, also known as vermicompost, is a living compost and can be used in conjunction with other composts or as a finishing compost for the above composts.  It is most commonly used for in-home composting of produce waste, but it is also great for producing worm castings. Castings or worm casts are known for being one of the most fertile and plant friendly soil amendments for all organic gardeners. Even though redworms are focus of this compost what makes it work is the ability for multiple critters and microorganisms to work with the redworms to create the worm cast. 
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Anaerobic compost is compost without access to oxygen. The microorganisms that live in this compost create methane gas that can smell bad and potentially harm the environment.  All composts can become anaerobic if improperly managed. To understand symptoms of this compost can help you recognize a potential problem in the compost that you may be trying to do.   More....