What is Compost?
Compost is organic matter that has been decomposed in a process called composting. This process recycles various organic materials otherwise regarded as waste products and produces a nutrient-rich soil.
You can easily buy compost from a gardening shop, but making your own is so much more fun. It’s easier if you have a garden because it needs a space to expand then rot down. You can find natural recyclable materials in the garden and the kitchen where you can use small composting bins for kitchen waste food.
You can then transfer to a big compost bin in the garden where you put your waste in the top, and turn a tap on the bottom to let out the smelly liquid.
If you are going to make compost, ask an adult first so they can tell you where to do it. Compost heaps can smell a bit, so try going for a corner away from the house.
Compost is a nutrient-rich soil
It is made from natural recyclable materials found in the garden and the kitchen. You can easily buy compost from a gardening shop, but making your own is so much more fun. It is made up from natural materials that break down into the soil feeding it with nutrients which in turn stabilise the ph levels in the soil. By composting you are helping the environment.
What can you put in your compost?
- Uncooked Vegetable and Fruit peelings.
- Used tea bags and used ground coffee.
- Crushed eggshells.
- Bark chippings, wood shavings old straw-like when you clean out a hamster.
- Old leaves, grass and old plants.
- Eggs boxes and thin cardboard-like the inside of toilet rolls.
- Newspapers (not too many).
- The wood shavings and cardboard absorb any moisture and help to keep it damp.
It is a good idea to try and have a good variety of all of the above, alternating the layers with green materials (which produce nitrogen) like grass, peelings, tea bags, eggshells and Brown materials (which produce Carbon) like leaves, cardboard, and newspapers.
Do not put food scraps off plates, any grease, dog or cat waste, old bones or meat, any synthetic fabrics, or weeds into your compost.
If you do not want to make a compost heap you could make your own little compost bin.
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How to make your own compost bin
You will need a clear plastic container with a lid, ask an adult to make 4 holes in the bottom to let the smelly liquid out as the compost is made.
At the bottom of the plastic container place some damp newspaper or kitchen roll. Then start adding all your compost materials as you get them; it is also a good idea to add a little soil at the start as well.
Place your container on grass, not concrete. Remember to remind everyone in the house that you are now saving composting materials. Nan Fran always has a little tub by her sink to add her composting materials to before she walks down to the end of the garden with them. Saves her legs up and down the garden she says.
Every week give it a stir making sure it is damp but not wet. Keep the lid on as it could get a bit smelly. You will notice over the weeks of adding materials and stirring it will start decomposing and after a few months, it will turn into compost. When it is finished it should be a dark, crumbly and smell quite pleasant.
This is now ready to mix with your soil to make it very nutritious.
If you are making a compost heap find a place at the bottom of your garden to start, try to cover it up with an old sheet or plastic.
As the weeks go by stirring it around and in a few months, the matter starts becoming compost. You will find lots of earthworms in there as it has so many nutrients for us, so be careful stirring it around, no rough stuff, please.
Now, when you or your family go to throw something away, you can check if you can compost it or not by checking the list. This works for recycling as well, make a 3R’s diary sheet to tell you what can be recycled. Make sure that anything that you can recycle or compost goes straight in the right bin.
Earthworms have searched the world for the best compost heap to live in. Earthworms live in the finest compost, so if you have them that’s great. Compost takes around 6 to 9 months to rot down completely, so patience is needed. Worms are great for compost as they feed it with nutrients, which make it even richer.
When it is finished the compost will be like a fine soil. You can now use it to add to some soil as great food for your plants.
Compost tips: If you are going to make a compost heap outside, remember you need a mixture of green materials (fruit and vegetable peelings etc) and brown materials (dead leaves, wood shavings etc) to make the best compost.