The act of composting has been present on the Earth in some form since life began. The decay, decomposition and consumption of organisms by other organisms is as natural a process as can be found. So, of course, humans have found a way to use these natural processes to aid humans. Luckily for the planet though, in this instance, our need to improve everything is actually helping the Earth. By speeding up the process that would happen naturally, we can then add to the size and production of the compost container. In nature things happen slowly and in place. Leaves fall under the tree they grew on for the most part, and slowly decompose and eventually will feed the tree. By actively composting the leaves, the nutrients contained in them become available to the tree sooner, and we can manage some of the pathogens and non-beneficial organisms out that would harm the tree if left on their own. Additionally, we can add to those nutrients and allow the beneficial organisms to multiply so there is enough for the tree that grew the leaves, and some left over for us to use in other areas that are lacking those things.
There are as many ways to actively compost, as there is any sort of farming. Considering composting as livestock management or animal husbandry of the organisms in the ecosystem, with compost being the by-product is a good mindset to begin composting. Be they visible such as worms and mites, or microscopic like nematodes and protozoa, it is the organisms in the compost that are the key to the composting process. There are three categories that these organisms fall into: Primary consumers, Secondary consumers and Tertiary consumers, and for the most part the later feeds on the previous category with the Primary consumers actually consuming most of the feedstock.
The populations of organisms in any compost depend on the feedstock and location of the pile, both geographically and rather the compost is inside or outside. For example, there will not likely be any ants or bees in an indoor vermicomposting bin; however, both can be an integral part of outdoor California style layered compost. Comparatively, if there are banana peels from the same hand in an outdoor compost pile and in an indoor vermicomposting bin, there will be similar organisms in both bins brought in on, and attracted to, the peel.
In order to keep all of these organisms as healthy and happy as possible it is necessary to carefully consider the location available for the “pile” and the style of composting that fits. For a small space in colder climates, indoor vermicomposting may be the right fit. If the space and feedstock are available, outdoor, multi-bin, layered compost may be better, especially in warm climates where composting can occur year round outside.