Most families recycle in some way, whether it is cans, bottles, plastic, etc. Composting is basically nature’s way of recycling.
Mary McKenna Siddals wrote a book, “Compost Stew,” which explains compost as making a stew. Ingredients are added, cooked for awhile, and compost is made! The compost is “edible,” meaning that the soil “eats” the compost when it is mixed into your garden. Compost is to the soil as vitamins are to your body.
Compost is an easy and fun activity to do with children. There are four basic ingredients for compost.
- Browns (nitrogen): Small dried leaves, small sticks, cut up cardboard, newspaper, pine needles, old potting soil
- Greens (carbon): Small green leaves, grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grinds, teabags, wilted flowers
- Moisture (water)
- Oxygen (air)
Let’s make compost!
- Get an empty, clean, 2-liter bottle. An adult makes a flip top by cutting 1/3 down
the bottle and most of the way around.
- Place a layer of old soil in the bottom (1 inch) and spray with water.
- Add a layer of greens (2 inches).
- Add 1 inch of soil, spray with water.
- Add a layer of browns (2 inches).
- Continue layering until near the flip top.
- Using duct tape, seal the flip top. Place the bottle in a sunny location. Every day or every other day, roll the bottle on the ground. The rolling mixes the oxygen around inside the bottle with the ingredients. If the “stew” looks too wet, peel back the flip top for a day or so. If the “stew” looks too dry, peel back the flip top and spray water inside.
In about a month, the “stew” will look brown and crumbly. It is ready to use as fertilizer and amendment in the garden soil.Parents, it is important NOT to add animal products, dairy products, peanut butter, weeds or diseased plants to the greens or browns. Now we can add to the fun and learning by making edible compost to be eaten by children.
Recipe No. 1
- Layer chocolate pudding with crushed graham crackers in a clear, plastic cup.
- Add gummy worms on top and enjoy!
Recipe No. 2
- For the browns, use pretzel sticks, cornflakes (brown leaves), crushed graham crackers, cooked brown rice. Use your imagination!
- For the greens, use green-colored coconut, dried fruit snacks, chopped up fresh strawberries or other fruit.
- For the old potting soil, use chocolate pudding.
- Layer as you would for real compost stew. Since the pudding is moist, no need to add other liquid.
- Finish with gummy worms on top!