With Spring (finally) in the air, now is the perfect time to get outside and get your hands dirty. Whether you decide to plant in or above ground, the best thing you can do for your plants is nurture them with some moist dark nutrient-rich compost. Composting at home may seem like a daunting task if you’ve never done it before, but it really could not be more simple. Here are a few tips and tools you will need to get started. And more importantly–ideas on how to get your kids involved and excited about composting!
1-Use a composting bucket in your kitchen. One of our daughter’s favorite things to do is sit on the kitchen counter with me while I prepare food or put groceries away and snack on whatever fruit and veggies she can get her hands on. Whatever she doesn’t eat or not-always-so-kindly rejects, she’ll toss into the compost bucket. Remember: no animal products! Keep your compost simple with fruits and veggies, egg shells, leaves and other yard scraps, and used coffee grounds. (Pictured compost bucket from here.)
2 & 3-Get your kiddo his own gardening gloves and tools. When it’s time to dump the compost bucket into the heap, turn the compost heap, or remove some compost from the heap to use in your next planting project, it is so fun for your kiddo to have her very own tools to use. Let her run her rake through the heap or turn over a little with her trowel. Let her put on her gloves and run her hands through the freshly turned compost. She may even discover some funny little earthworms in there! (Pictured gardening gloves from here; pictured kid’s gardening tool kit from here.)
4- Set up a compost heap in your yard. Even in the city, it’s best to keep your compost heap covered and contained in a fully closed receptacle. However, compost needs circulating air to be happiest, so you need to make sure to turn it occasionally. Let your child accompany you out to the compost heap when it’s time to dump the compost bucket. Remember to put on your gloves and get your tools together (both of you!), dump the bucket, then take a couple minutes to turn the compost a bit with your shovel. Point out the leftover scraps you may see on the top of the heap–“Remember when you ate that orange for a snack? There’s the rind! And now it’s turning into food for your plants.” It’s fun for kids to make the connection between the food they don’t eat and how it can be used in other ways instead of just thrown away. (Compost heap container from here.)
5- Use your compost! Most compost receptacles have a spot at the bottom where you can open up a latch and shovel out all the best compost that’s been hanging out at the bottom of the heap for a while. You’ll know it’s ready when it’s super dark and looks just like normal dirt. Most importantly, it should smell like good fresh earth. In other words, if it’s still smelling a bit like your kitchen trash, it’s not quite ready to use. Let your child help you plant your new plants and add the lovely compost that she made herself! (Plant pot from here.)
Letting your little one play with the fresh compost that he helped make is an important step in teaching him about the cycles of plant life and the necessity of taking care of our earth. Have fun composting and planting and reaping the fruits of your labor!