Making Compost

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To have compost in the autumn, you must begin in the spring, although compost can be made all year round. Making your own compost gives you an opportunity to recycle as well as a chance to make your own fertilizer. Compost helps your plants to thrive and provides nutrition to all areas of your garden when used for planting and maintenance.

Setting Up a Compost Bin

To make a relatively small amount of compost, you need a bin with a lid. This is a cleaner and more presentable way of making compost than using a corner of the garden to start a large compost pile, but a basic pile will do as well if you have space for it. You’ll also need old plant waste, kitchen waste, soil and used animal or pet bedding if possible.

Set up the compost bin over the earth, not on concrete. Your child can play a major role in getting the bin positioned and prepared.

Filling the Bin

Once the bin is in the right position, fill it with dead leaves, green waste from the garden such as leaves and clippings, old plants you’ve removed fruit and vegetable peelings from the kitchen, egg shells and the contents of the birdcage or hamster when you clean it out. The point is to use the natural waste from the garden and house, not to create waste, so if you don’t have any peelings, you don’t need to peel an apple you don’t plan to eat, but a healthy snack might be okay if it’s for science and gardening.

When you’ve set up the initial items, sprinkle the pile with some soil. Cover the bin with some old carpet or a doormat to help keep the heat inside while allowing air to circulate and then leave it alone until you have more items to add. As you find items, simply throw them on top of the pile for a few months.

In the house, when you’re cooking meals, ask your children to help set aside items that can be used in the compost bin. Place them in a bowl and at the end of the meal or before bedtime, allow the children to go out and place them into the compost bin. Eggshells, peelings and aging fruits and vegetables are great for compost, but don’t scrape leftovers into the pot as they might attract the kinds of critters you’d rather not have behind you home.

Preparing the Compost

After three or four months, remove the cover from the compost and help your child dig into it. Flip the compost on the bottom of the pile onto the top to help bury the items that have decomposed the least. When it’s good and mixed, put the “lid” back on and then leave it to rot even further.

You’ll know it’s ready when the bottom of the compost pile is brown and crumbly. At this stage, dig up the compost from the bottom and use it in the garden and other plantings. The nutrients in the compost will do wonders for your garden over all.

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