Composting is the process by which waste is broken down by naturally occurring bacteria which produces compost, a nutrient dense by product, which can be used for gardening and soil replenishment.
Composting using a combination 2:1 ratio of carbons and nitrogen’s. Most websites will simplify by calling them browns and greens because most carbons are brown and most nitrogen’s are green. Examples of carbons include leaves, branches, sometimes hay, sawdust etc. Examples of nitrogen include: manure, fresh grass clippings, urine(technically nitrates), and vegetable scraps. Other compostable items include paper products (carbon), coffee grounds, egg shells but not yolks, avocado skins but not avocado, and seeds of any kind.
Keep in mind you can compost human and carnivore manure but you can’t eat the plant products as carnivore and omnivore manure contains harmful bacteria if consumed. So you should have herbivore manure separate from carnivore/omnivore.
There are a number of different methods for composting: you can compost in open piles, bins/cans, bury them in pits or create custom systems. Keep in mind location of the composting is important to avoid a number of health hazards: in the city bin composting is used to prevent attracting insects or stinking up the area but it takes ~6 months to process unless you just take your composting to a local landfill, pit/buried composting is quick and easy if you have the land but ensure you are not contaminating underground water sources and it takes about 6 months as well, and finally pile composting which is by far the most efficient you’ll want far from dwellings because it attracts a lot of flies but if well managed can be composted in as little as 2 weeks and redistributed.
Pest management is important when composting. When the composting process is complete the soil will have a nice earthly crumble, a brown dirt coloring depending on materials and not smell. The smell indicates improper break down of materials or excess nitrogen which you fix with turning and watering the pile or using compost tea and adding carbons respectively. Until the composting process is complete you will attract a lot of insects and a few animals. Not all insects are bad. You will want Red Wigglers, Earthworms, Soldier flies, Scarabs/dung beetles, some species of ants and butterflies (yes butterflies eat poop). You don't want horseflies, houseflies, gnats, fruit flies or fungus gnats. You can use a small pinch of commercial grade house fly poison which attracts male flies using hormones and kills them within a minute of consumption. The drawback is it only works on males and nobody wants a bunch of poison on their lawn. Distancing from your common areas helps and the insects will be drawn away to feed on the pile and leave you alone for the most part and animals that eat insects will be drawn there thus eliminating your bug problem and requires no effort. Glue traps work the best for gnats and flies and don't really require baiting if you place them strategically in areas they congregate or by sources of light or food which they are naturally drawn to. And finally you can design traps where they enter through a funnel and can't find the way out. I am using a home designed trap and its successful, but not perfect as the rabbits provide adequate fecal matter to distract them even shortly after cleaning. Next week I am testing an introduction of spiny spiders which are harmless to the rabbits, naturally occurring in Florida and natural predators to the insects in order to employ a more active method of ridding myself of the fruit flies and gnats rather than the passive trapping and poisoning methods.
Composting is not meant to replace fill dirt or top soil. Top soil is made from composting as well as adding in organic material such as leaves and lawn clippings and branches as well as minerals which may have been depleted or used by plant life in the soil or the animals that produced the waste. You will also need to do an acidity test to determine the soil's Ph levels and make sure it is balanced and adjust as needed. By reintroducing these missing components you can make topsoil.
Using a combination of top soil and composting you can create an ideal soil setting for growing any number of species. You can amend your soil type, grow plants from different regions, grow indoors or outdoors or just maintain a balance within the ecosystem you inhabit. For example since we have been composting we produce 80% less waste to landfills, we are amending our sandy loam soil type and growing fruit and vegetables for our consumption and rabbit consumption. Some heat sensitive species are grown indoors such as cilantro and heat tolerant species are grown outdoors such as Basil and some will require a greenhouse such as the Avocado trees during freezing temperatures.
I know this sounds like a lot of information, but its really just a small daily life adjustment. Participating in composting will bring you a sense of fulfillment and if enough individuals make the transition you can have a profound impact on your local environment. This not only benefits your self sustainability, but your community. I highly recommend putting in a little time to make the change. I hope this helps.