Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Gardening with Children :: Create your Own Compost Bin

In a past Junior Master Gardener class, the children and I created our own compost bins from plastic storage tubs. I recommended the children use a 3 to 5 gallon tub, but I choose to use a larger 18 gallon tub as I had it on hand. Any size worked well.

Let's begin!

Place your storage tub lid down. Using a small drill bit (1/8 in to 1/4 in) and drill, drill holes along through the bottom of the tub. This will allow for drainage and encourage decomposers to help in the composting process.

Gather your materials: Potting soil, sphagnum moss, greens, browns, and kitchen leftovers.

This compost bin uses the sandwich layer method. Here is the order of the following layers:

1. Potting soil; cover the bottom of the tub with one inch of soil. The soil naturally contains living organisms and will be the beginning of your compost.

2. Add the layer of browns you have collected. Browns such as dead plant material, dried tomato and potato vines, garden debris, and leaves add carbon to the compost.

3. The next layer is the greens. Greens are considered grass clippings, chicken manure, green garden debris, vegetable scraps, eggshells, and even rabbit droppings.Using greens in the compost bin adds nitrogen to the soil.

4. The fourth layer of my bin is sphagnum moss. It is a light dusting to separate the greens layer. It retains moisture allowing decomposition to occur more rapidly.

5. This is the second layer of greens in my bin, but these are accumulated from kitchen leftovers.

6. Once all the collected layers are distributed, approximately 1/2 inch layer of potting soil tops off the compost bin. This layer is slightly moistened to promote healthy bacterial growth and aide in decomposition.

Place the lid on your storage tub and sit in a sunny place to begin the composting process. If you choose to do so, you may decorate your composting bin using acrylic paint. Tip: once the paint is dry, spray the decorations with an acrylic sealer.

Every 4 or 5 days, turn or mix your compost and begin layering again. If you feel heat coming off your compost than it is working as it should. Also, please note, when using city water to moisten your compost, keep in mind it contains chlorine which may affect your decomposition rate as it could kill off your bacteria.

Don'ts of Composting:

  • Don't place meats, dairy, fish, or bones into your compost.
  • Avoid using glossy magazine paper.
  • Do not add diseased plants or dog, cat, pig, or reptile feces.
  • If you need brown materials, you may use shredded newspaper, but not too much.
  • Try not to use pine needles or hair, unless you have too as they both decompose slower.
  • Avoid hay in your bin as it will contain weed and grass seeds which would not be pleasant in the garden.
Happy composting!

No comments:

Post a Comment