Microorganisms are essential in the composting process. These microscopic
organisms are the tiny guys and gals, that break down raw, organic compost
In the composting process, micro-organisms produce carbon dioxide, heat,
water and humus.... finished compost that is ready for use by your plants.
There are a wide variety of microorganisms at work during each stage
of the decomposing process. 80% to 90% of the micro-organisms are bacteria.
Other microorganisms include:
Fungi - including molds and yeasts
Actinomycetes - bacteria similar to fungi
Protozoa - single celled, feeds on organic matter
Rotifers - feeds on organic matter, bacteria and fungi
Three stages of decomposition, where micro-organisms are at work:
Mesophilic, warm up period: Aerobic bacteria is at work. Temperatures
are 70-90 degrees F. Aerobic microorganisms, which require oxygen, are working
on the compost.
Thermophilic, high heat period: Temperatures reach 100 to 170 degrees F.
The microorganisms dominant in this stage, are anaerobic. This stage usually
lasts 3-4 days.With high heat, weed seeds and other seeds are killed.
Cool down period: Temperatures cool off and aerobic micro-organisms take
over once more.
Micro-organisms are present in your garden soil, on plants, and in
any compost pile. To kick-start the decomposition process, you don't need
compost activators. Just add a shovelful of dirt, or finished compost from
your last batch, to the raw materials.
Composting Health Hazards
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