Hands sift through compost ready for use


"Aerobic" composting involves microbes requiring oxygen, while composting without oxygen is called "anaerobic." Both systems will break down organic matter, but aerobic composting is generally faster, hotter, and easier to manage. Note, as well, that anaerobic decomposition creates objectionable odors. For those reasons, many people prefer aerobic composting.

Generally speaking, three classes of bacteria will work in aerobic composting (Note: Find more information about each by clicking the name):

In tropical and subtropical climates, which are warm so much of the year, composting rarely utilizes low-temperature bacteria. Rather, most composting starts in the moderate temperature range, and then pile temperatures climb as composting takes place. Higher temperatures also help to kill weed seeds and disease that otherwise might thrive wherever the finished product is used/placed.

In later stages, a host of other organisms will assist with pile decomposition, including actinomycetes, fungi, sowbugs, millipedes, centipedes, spiders, and earthworms. Learn more about any of these by following the linked text.