Getting Your Kids To Compost

Given the state of global warming and everything else it is probably a good idea to get your kids compositing.

It is actually quite easy to get them to understand how the whole process work.  It is also a way of gently explaining the natural process of life, death and decay to them. 

The best thing is to describe it as Nature's own recycling system. Just say it is magic and you are turning garbage into dirt if your kids are really. It gets complicated when you want to explain to a kid that that you can't put all kinds of garbage in the compost. Show them that weeds, leaves, grass clipping and vegetable peels are the most suitable by keeping a compost container right on the kitchen counter. Get them in the habit early of throwing their banana peels, orange rinds and bread crusts in there. 

If your child has trouble understanding this use the example of how when leaves drop from a tree, they decay into dirt over time, without any help from anyone Explain that everything that has once lived will eventually turn back into your dirt. Part of your kid's guide to composting should be to explain this natural process and how decomposition begins with thousands of microorganisms.  Try not to scare him or her if she I really little. 

If you know anything about composting you know that these microorganisms feast on anything and generate heat in the process. As the temperature inside the decaying pile of matter rises, fungi, bacteria and insects also help with the decomposition process. Kids can directly assist with this process by helping to turn or stir the compost pile with a stick or a garden fork. This helps add oxygen to the pile in the form of air, which heats the pile up even more.  This heat is absolutely necessary to help kill bacteria.  The more thoroughly and evenly your child distributes air through the pile the sooner you will great fertilizer for your garden. This is really good exercise for a fat kid. 

The sign that the pile has cooled down and that it is clean of bacteria is when you start seeing earthworms in the humus.  This is the cue to start feeding the humus  (the fertilizer) to new plants. Most compost piles rest on bare ground, but you can build the pile on a raised platform of loosely spaced boards. This allows air to be drawn up from the bottom so that it circulates through the compost and allows it to develop the essential soil bacteria more quickly.  If you have a child that is old enough it can help you build this type of open-air composter. 

One of the main reasons to guide your child through the process of composting is to teach them how to be an ethically minded responsible citizen. This is especially important in the decades to come when gardening locally might be a matter of survival thanks to the effects of global warming.