Understanding Compost

Signs of Intelligent Life

What are the signs of life – the activities of a living organism or community of organisms?


Consumes food

Converts food to energy or growth fuel

Expels the by-products of that conversion

Consumes water or regulates the balance of moisture in it’s environment

Uses water or humidity to facilitate conversion of food to energy, expelling of the by-products and spending of the energy

Acts to create a community interdependence and balance that sustains the cycle: life-death-decay-life

Acts to reproduce or recreate itself



Is renewed

Soil that is alive, a living soil community, as well as a productive compost pile both carry on all those activities, show all those signs!

The pivotal relationships in that food-energy-growth-decay-food-energy-growth-decay cycle can be known by us at least to an extent needed to protect, nurture and enhance soil communities that we use or interact with. That we depend on. That are under our care, either by way of what we do or what we refrain from doing.

As you begin to intuitively and intellectually know and understand these pivotal soil relationships and the chemical and biological mechanisms that allow the relationships to be ongoing – life/death/decay/life – to be self-perpetuating, then you begin to be able to build topsoil and make compost more effectively, more economically.

This is not difficult for anyone. These pivotal relationships in a living soil and growing plant community are the foundation of all other life on earth. As such the knowledge of them is part of our DNA. Part of our genetic coding and our ingrained ancient cultural coding.

Our inborn understanding of these relationships only needs to be remembered by us intuitively – not learned intellectually. Even when it seems, in our modern context, that we are “learning” them – if we are understanding them then we are in reality simply remembering. Remembering our own origins, our evolution, and the certainty of the endless procession of life.  As in cultivating a green-thumb, for instance.

If, however, we are distracted from remembering or prevented by the artificial reductionist culture from remembering them, then we humans are also tragically capable of short circuiting and destroying those pivotal relationships.

Here then are some notes, some “reminders”, of the most dynamic and magical of these relationships which modern humans have “relearned” in the last century or so:

(To be continued …)


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