Composting is nature's own way of recycling. Today, many farms, homes and even some cities compost their waste. Using waste materials for compost keeps them from landfills and saves that space on our planet. The result is a dark, nutrient-rich compound filled with humus, the soil-improving material that helps plants grow and thrive.
Compost has two main components - nitrogen and carbon. Nitrogen comes from green materials such as vegetable scraps and grass clippings. Carbon comes from dry brown materials such as dead leaves, wood chips, hay and shredded newspaper. The best compost has equal parts of nitrogen and carbon. It should not contain any animal products or droppings, but can have manure and egg shells.
In addition to nitrogen and carbon, water is required for a healthy compost. It should be kept as moist as a "wrung out" sponge. Air is also necessary so compost should be turned or fluffed regularly. The individual ingredients break down the fastest at 120-140 degrees. This temperature also kills weed seeds, diseases and insects. The finished compost can be ready in 2-3 months with the correct "recipe."
Compost is actually alive during its cooking phase. It's filled with microbes, small bacteria that break down the compost pile until you can't recognize the different pieces that were there originally. Red wiggler composting worms also help with decomposition.