unrecognizable; mushroom may be present, aiding to decompose the most resistant materials:cellulose, lignin, and wood; chemical exchange takes place during this stage: This is the gaseousand liquid phase. 3. Mature: At stage three, recombination of decomposition products from preceding stages occurs:This is the humidification phase. 4. Aged Compost: At stage four, the compost looks almost like soil (loam); it resembles naturaltopsoil; its organic matter and nitrogen content are low: This is the mineralization phase. At this point we should have a better idea of how to compost. Now, you may be asking yourself,"How do I start composting?" 1. Determine which method you desire to use. Will you create a compost pile or heap? Will youbuild a compost bin? Or, will you purchase a manufactured composter? 2. Next, start being diligent in separating your garbage. Start setting aside materials that can beadded to your compost pile or composter. Of course organic materials such as vegetable peelings,coffee grounds and egg shells can be added. But, you can also add things like toilet paper rolls,paper towel rolls and shredded cardboard as well. I have a cross-cut shredder and shred all "white" paper from my junk mail, and I add this shreddedpaper to my compost bin. Do not use colored paper or paper printed with colored inks as these arenot good for your compost. Also, be sure to keep out things such as envelopes with glassinewindows, as these materials do not readily break down in the composting process. Finally, yard waste, such as grass clippings, is a great nitrogen-rich additive to your compost pileor composter. Be careful not to put weeds or invasive plants in your compost pile or composterbecause you do not want to run the risk of these plants "infecting" your compost. 3. Remain committed to your composting endeavors. With some diligence you should have yourfirst batch of compost in 3-4 months using a compost pile or heap and even sooner if you use acomposter. Composters retain the heat generated from the composting process, which in turnsbreaks down the organic materials more quickly. Also, compost tumblers assure that the compostis well mixed, which further aids in thorough decomposition. With compost tumblers you can havefinished compost in as little as 3 weeks. As you can see, learning how to compost is not as difficult a task as you may have expected. Thebiggest challenge is changing your lifestyle so that you are more conscious of what, in your"world," can be composted. Composting is a wonderful way to recycle your garbage and turn it intonutrient-rich compost to be used in your garden, while at the same time reducing the amount ofgarbage that ends up in landfills. Start composting today! Composting is good for the environment and your garden. For moreinformation on what items can be composted, you may want to read "What Can You Compost?"