The FLX Composting Column: Tips for Composting with Kids

If you have kids, grandkids, or any kid in your life—or if you are just a kid at heart—hear me out: Kids love to compost!
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Photo provided by Heather Gilbert

“Children are the seeds of our future. Plant love in their hearts and water them with wisdom and life’s lessons. When they are grown, give them space to grow.” —unknown

By Heather Gilbert of Finger Lakes Compost

Finding ourselves a year into a global pandemic, a lot of families are spending much of their time at home. Children are remote learning and parents are working from home. Many households are looking for ways to live healthier, happier lives while enjoying activities together.

More and more households are investing in growing their very own gardens to find this fulfillment. What’s best for any garden? Compost. Every garden loves compost. Compost simply put is decayed organic material used as a plant fertilizer. You can start right now to break the winter blues, while waiting for spring. It’s simple and anyone can do it. If you have kids, grandkids, or any kid in your life—or if you are just a kid at heart—hear me out: Kids love to compost! Children have a natural instinct in their bones to play outdoors, to play in the soil. 

Children are the future, so let’s raise them up right. Go ahead and teach them that composting is like making a dessert in the oven—put all your compostable materials (ingredients) together, mix your ingredients, add a touch of love and let it bake. You end up with your very own finished compost soil!

Start together by building, buying or allocating a spot to put all your composting materials (ingredients). Be sure to have your ingredients measured. That is where the 3:1 ratio of carbon and nitrogen comes into play. 

Carbon is the dry ingredients like brown leaves, straw, hay, sawdust, shredded paper, cardboard, and woodchips. Nitrogen is the wet ingredients like food scraps, grass clippings and manure. Add some soil or if you have finished compost (this is to get those worms and microbes into your mix). Then add some water if needed..

Mix your ingredients and let them “bake” which simply means letting them sit.

When baking a dessert in your kitchen, depending on which ingredients you have on hand and your recipe, your dessert may be the difference between a pie and a cake—but the homemade sweetness is the same. Each batch of finished compost will differ as well with its exact nutrient makeup, but its earthy, nutrient-dense, homemade goodness is the same.

If you don’t have the means to compost outdoors, try indoors in a small manageable container.  For further detail with illustrations and what I consider the best ever compost “recipe” check out Composting: Wastes to Resources, written by Jean Bonhotal and Marianne Krasny and published by Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Now that you have your very own homemade finished compost, use it up! Mix it into your garden at the end of the season to prep for the following growing season right up to a month or two before you start planting. Sprinkle it on top or around the edges of your garden to slow feed. Houseplants love a little compost too. Compost is a nutrient powerhouse; a little goes a long way. 

Enjoy your dessert! Sow your own seeds!

Photo by: ClipartKey.com

  Heather Gilbert is the owner of Finger Lakes Compost LLC—a local homesteader humbly living with her small family. Heather strives on education and best practices to share with the community.  She has completed the US Composting Council certified accredited composting course. She is also a proud recipient of the 2019 USCC “food waste diversion outreach program of the year” award. Follow the fun @fingerlakescompost on Instagram and @flxscrapstogardens on Facebook. Keep up with the availability of the finished product, the services offered and other composting information at www.fingerlakescompost.com.

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