All organic matter will eventually decay and become a form of natural compost. Compost for growing plants and replenishing garden soils needs to undergo the right conditions for the highest level of nutrients to develop.
Under proper conditions, decaying matter such as dead leaves, rotting green vegetation, egg shells, twigs and grass clippings become ideal foods for bacteria and fungus. The microorganisms quickly begin the work of breaking down the decaying material.
Food for Worms
If a little garden soil is added to decomposing organic matter, earthworms are likely to be transferred to the composting pile. Worms eat the decaying material and expel nutrient-rich waste, or worm castings, to compost.
The dark, rich, spongy material that results from composting is called humus. Nutrient-rich humus is an essential ingredient in any soil in which plants are grown.
Without compost or humus, soils would quickly become depleted of essential nutrients. Breaking down large, decaying matter into easily absorbed nutrients is the only way plants can take these elements in through their roots.
Added Benefits of Compost
Not only does compost add nutrients to tired soil, but it gives soil body and helps it retain moisture. Plants grow more vigorously, and vigorous, healthy plants are less prone to disease and microbial attack.
- The Garden of Oz: The Basics of Composting
- TAMU Extension: Humus--It's the Dirt
- US EPA: Basic Information About Composting
composting nutrients, microorganisms soil fungus, humus worm castings
About this Author
Mary Osborne has been an educational quiz writer for over eight years and a short-fiction writer for over 20 years. She also reads and scores essays for several standardized tests, and has written and illustrated two children's books. Her short stories have appeared in literary journals such as "The Minnesota Review" and in the "Orlando Sentinel" newspaper.