The first compost was created in prehistory when ancient man combined animal manure with straw and buried it in orchards and gardens to improve soil quality. Composting as we know it today is a controlled process of making organic materials rot. During this process, nitrogen-rich materials such as animal manures are mixed with carbon-filled items such as sawdust or wood shavings to create a pile that eventually decomposes into a pH-neutral loam. This loam contains many of the nutrients that plants thrive on.
Dig a hole or trench in the ground that is at least 3 cubic feet.
Layer manure and sawdust in alternating layers in the trench. The manure layers should be half as thick as the sawdust. Wet each layer with a garden hose so that the entire pile is consistently as damp as a wrung-out sponge.
Check the compost pile daily with a cooking thermometer to ensure that the pile's center heats to between 120 and 160 degrees. Stir the pile with a spading fork any time the pile's internal temperature drops below 120 degrees. Over time, the pile will shift from solids such as manure and sawdust to loam.
Sift through the pile when it appears to be completely loam. Pick out the large pieces and return them to the trench for use in your next composting project. Any compost that passes through the sieve is ready for use.