Composting Activity Page

From Connections, September-December 2011

Download and print this page to complete the activities and check out the bonus activities.

Compost Activity Page

Bonus Activities

A Kitchen Compost Bucket

It’s easy to save kitchen scraps if you set up a countertop container to hold them before bringing them out to the compost pile. You can buy a compost container or you can reuse whatever you have–an extra bowl or cooking pot, a beach pail, even an old plastic ice cream tub. Once you set up your countertop container, you’ll have to show your family how to deposit just the good stuff–fruit and vegetable trimmings. Don’t try to compost meat or anything that is salty, fatty, or sugary. Have everyone in the family take turns bringing the bucket of scraps out to the compost pile in the yard.

Brew Some Compost Tea

If you want to further nourish your plants and improve your soil, you can make compost tea. This is a healthy drink for plants and gardens made by soaking compost in water and adding air. To brew compost tea, you will need:

  1. a 5-gallon bucket
  2. a gallon of mature compost
  3. 4 gallons of water
  4. an aquarium pump
  5. 3 feet of aquarium hose
  6. Molasses

Place the aquarium pump and hose in the bucket of water. Add the compost and let it “steep” for a few hours. When it’s good and foamy (that shows the right bacteria are active) add this tea to soil or spray it on foliage to keep your plants healthy and strong.

Try Vermicomposting

Vermicomposting uses live red worms to break down food scraps, paper, and yard waste. In three to four months, the worms break down organic wastes through joint action with microorganisms to produce dark, rich soil. Vermicomposting can be set up in your basement. In a 10- to 15-gallon plastic storage tub with a few air holes drilled in, mix damp newspaper, a pint of soil, a pint of compost, and a cup of plain cornmeal. Add red worms and secure the lid. Bury new food scraps, grains, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags, and small bits of paper to the bedding. For more information read “Worms Eat My Garbage” by Mary Appelhof.

Compost Problems? Solved!

It’s easy to compost because nature does most of the work. But if you have any of these problems, here’s how to solve them:

Your composting stinks. Bad odors are a sign that the heap is too wet. Turn the pile with a pitchfork or shovel to mix in air, and add more dry material, such as straw, autumn leaves, or wood ashes.

You see lots of flies near the pile. If you want to have flies feed and lay their eggs elsewhere, try mixing in your food scraps instead of leaving them on the top of the pile.

Fruit flies hover around the countertop bucket. Take out the kitchen scraps more often! You can also make sure the cover on your compost container has a tight seal to keep flies out.

You see an abundance of ants. To discourage ants, add some water to your pile. They won’t like the increased moisture.