Compost and Vermicompost, What are they?

Written by Matthew on August 30th, 2011

Compost is the process through which organic matter transforms from an unstable state to a stable state. To understand this, think about an apple that has fallen off of a tree and is left sitting on the ground undisturbed. The apple, although fresh and ready to eat when it falls from the tree, will not stay in this condition for long. Because the apple cannot stay in its present condition it is said to be in an unstable state. The apple has stored energy in the form of sugars, starches, and proteins. These chemical stores of energy came from the sun and were stored through the process of photosynthesis. The apple tree took CO2, water, oxygen, and converted these basic ingredients using sunlight through the process of photosynthesis into the sugars and starches that make up most of the apple. The apple will soon begin a natural and God created processĀ  of decomposition called composting. Organisms such as yeast, bacteria, and fungus will begin breakdown of the apple into a more stable form and eventually into a material called humus. Humus has many important functions that whole books could be written on, but for basics its important to know that humus holds nutrients for plant use and acts as a filter and helps prevent contamination of ground water from many chemicals (Miller 148).

It is quite fascinating to see how this natural process keeps everything in balance. If things did not rot (compost) eventually there would be huge piles of leaves in the forest, our uneaten apple cores would soon litter the planet, grass clippings would eventually take over your yard, so on and so forth, but more importantly the soil would soon run out of nutrients because they were not getting replenished. Composting is necessary for new things to come about. Composting is a natural process through which God has allowed for His creation to continually renew itself. Everything that was once living will eventually turn back into the soil. (Genesis 3:19) The complexity of natural cycles is amazing and so vast that scientist cannot completely understand the chemistry involved, yet at the same time somehow they are fascinatingly simple and complete systems.

A large portion of garbage created comes from organic and once living sources. All the food, paper, wood, cotton and much of the other resources we use come from the ground as grown products. These product all can be turned into compost when their usable life is over. Currently we throw much of these materials into landfill when they could be used to enrich our soils. The problems comes from the fact that the natural process of composting is to slow to efficiently handle the huge volumes of organic material currently produced. However through intentional composting and using special methods we can compost large amounts of garbage quickly, producing a valuable soil amendment in the process of reducing waste. This also prevents depletion and waste of agricultural capacity.

Many different compost methods have been devised by people over the years. Some compost methods are suitable for extremely large scale facilities composting hundreds of cubic yards a day and some methods have been developed that can allow for a completely automated compost bin to fit under your kitchen counter. One type of composting called thermophilic composting requires temperatures to climb to over 150 degrees F, compared to vermicomposting which takes place at room temperature. Vermicomposting is of course composting with the use of earthworms. Vermicomposting can also vary in scale from million dollar operations to 15 dollar plastic containers.


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