All organic matter eventually decomposes. Composting speeds the process by providing an ideal environment for bacteria and other decomposing microorganisms, and the final product looks and feels like fertile garden soil. Decomposing organisms consist of bacteria, fungi and larger organisms such as worms and numerous other bugs.
Decomposing organisms need four key elements to thrive: nitrogen, carbon, moisture, and oxygen. When doing your own composting, mix materials high in nitrogen (such as clover, fresh grass clippings and livestock manure) and those high in carbon (such as dried leaves and twigs) for best results. If there is not a good supply of nitrogen-rich material, a handful of general lawn fertilizer will help the nitrogen-carbon ratio. Moisture is provided by rain, but you may need to water or cover the pile to keep it damp. Be careful not to saturate the pile. Turning or mixing the pile provides oxygen and frequent turning yields faster decomposition.