A Kids' Guide to CompostingEveryday the rubbish that we throw away pollutes the earth. If it’s incinerated (burned up) it can release harmful toxins that pollute the air but if it’s dumped into a landfill or even the ocean then it pollutes our land and water. Thankfully, a lot of our rubbish tends to be from the garden and the kitchen, and these types of natural waste can often be composted. Continue reading for some basic answers to frequently asked questions about composting.

What is Composting?

Composting is a term that is used when someone controls the decomposition (breakdown) of natural waste, organic solid wastes. Usually composting is done in a bin or heap, where natural rubbish is allowed to mix together and decomposed into a crumbly fertilizer.

Why Should I Compost?

Not only does composting help us reduce the amount of rubbish that we bin, and the risks of further polluting the air, land and water with this rubbish, but composting is also an easy way to get some excellent – and free – fertilizer for the garden. (Not to mention it’s always fun to get a particularly wormy, gross compost heap going!)

How do I Begin Composting?

If you live in a city or have a very small garden, composting may not be the right option for you. But if you live outside of urban (city) areas and have a large garden that you enjoy taking care of, composting is as easy as designating a bin or a small section of land for your compost heap. If you choose to use a bin, cut out the bottom so that the compost material can touch the earth. If you choose to designate an area of the garden, make sure that it has some sort of shelter for the heap. As you add materials to the heap, try to make sure that they are always a little moist, that they are sheltered from wind and rain, and that air can circulate freely through the heap.

What Materials can be Composted?

Many organic and natural materials can be composted. Grass cuttings, leaves, flowers and vegetable scraps can all be composted, as can fruit scraps and peels, leftover table scraps and egg shells, coffee grounds and stale bread. Paper, cardboard, sawdust, animal manure and seaweed can also be composted. Do not attempt to add meat scraps, wood branches, metal, glass, plastics or any type of garden waste that has been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals. These items do not decompose well and will hold up the efficiency of your compost heap.

How do I Control Pests when I Compost?

As you add each layer to your compost heap, make sure that you cover them completely with a thin layer of lime and then top it off with a layer of soil. Adding a mesh cover to the top of a bin will help to keep flies away, as will a layer of sawdust shavings added to the top of each heap. To keep out rats, ask your parents to install a sheet of mesh between the bottom of the heap and the soil so that worms can still get through but rats will be kept out.

What do I do With Compost?

Compost is an excellent natural fertilizer for your garden. You will know that the contents of your compost heap are ready to be used when they look kind of crumbly and smell like earth. When your compost heap is ready, you can layer the contents in the top-soil of garden beds, scatter it like mulch around the bottom of trees, plants and shrubs, or mix it into the soil that you use in your potted plants. This rich fertilizer will help your flowers and plants be nourished and bloom more quickly and easily.