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Organic Waste - A Great Source For Composting

May 10, 2008
Certainly there is a good deal of discussion and concern nowadays about organic products and also about defining the meaning of the term organic waste. Essentially, it is the byproduct of any material that is biological in origin. Common types of such waste includes virtually all paper products, including newspapers and cardboard; food waste; green waste material which encompasses yard and garden waste; animal manure and feces; and various biosolids and sludge components.

The process that organic matter goes through to become waste is called composting. The composting process breaks down the microorganisms in the organic material through a combination of exposure to heat, moisture, oxygen and bacteria. Once this organic material has passed through this decomposing process, it can be reused as a very effective soil additive.

In many ways, organic waste is a valuable part of the process of life on this planet. In essence, composting of organic materials is the original, and most effective form of recycling, invented and perfected by Mother Nature herself.

Once organic materials are gathered together in a compost pile, the microorganisms rapidly increase in number and essentially grow into a community that "colonizes" the composter. Through the natural biological functions of the microorganisms, the organic components are systematically broken down and the result is a nutrient rich compost.

As the bacterial microorganisms grow, they assimilate the starches, sugars and organic acids found in the waste matter. A side effect of their activity is a rise in the temperature in the center-most portion of the compost heap. Eventually, the temperature of the core of the compost pile will reach more than 140 degrees Fahrenheit and this heat contributes to the escalating decomposition of the material.

When the busy bacteria have consumed all of the sugars and starches and other materials they feast upon, the interior temperature of the compost heap begins to fall. As the temperatures become lower, other kinds of microorganisms, such as fungi, become more dominant in the composting community. At this stage the waste is considered to be stabilizing but there are still biological activities going on which will affect the woody elements of the compost mixture, allowing them to be broken down as well.

In order to continue through the composting process, the compost heap needs to be turned. This is a simple process that brings the material that is on the edges of the heap into the center so that it can be exposed to this process of heating as described above. It is recommended to allow the compost pile to sit undisturbed for approximately two weeks between turnings.

A compost heap can continue to grow by adding additional organic waste at any time. The compost pile simply needs to be turned at regular intervals of about every other week and the decomposition process will continue. In four to six months the composting process will have done its work and the compost can be mixed in with the soil as a very effective fertilizer.
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