Have you and your family tried your hand at composting? It’s a great way to reduce waste, turn it into organic material, and even create a new microecosystem for critters to live in!
Before we start…
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So how do you make compost?
Making your own compost is easy, and it’s something that the whole family can take part in. For the bin, you can either buy an inexpensive one, or even DIY your own.
Once you’ve found the perfect spot for your compost bin, it’s time to fill it with a 50/50 mix of browns and greens. What’s that exactly? Browns are anything that are full of carbon (and usually brown in colour). Think dead leaves and branches, cardboard, egg cartons, or even paper! And let’s be honest, your kiddo will be more than happy chucking their old homework into the compost bin. Greens are anything that were once living and full of nitrogen. These are green leaves, vegetable and fruit scraps, or even grass cuttings. The bugs absolutely love their greens (be sure to tell the kids that), which they eat to help create the compost.
Want more information on making your own compost? Read our Beginners Guide to Composting.
Bugs, Critters, and Microorganisms
When you’re creating the perfect compost heap, what you’re really doing is providing a space for loads of organisms to live and thrive. These organisms help break down all the materials you throw into your heap and create that beautiful compost you can use in your garden. And while they may be creepy and crawly, they’re actually really helpful.
Here are some of the critters you can find in your compost.
Ants – You may find some ants bobbing about as they’re looking for food. While they burrow through the compost, they create passages which allow air to pass through. This helps the other organisms breathe and assists with the degrading process. They also help break down the material into smaller pieces.
Pill bug – These creatures do more than just roll up into a little ball. They help eat all the organic matter and are even able to digest the cellulose fibres of sticks and branches, making them a valuable addition to any compost.
Millipedes – Try not to be intimidated by all their legs – millipedes are very helpful compost critters. They love to eat dead plants, as well as decaying sticks, branches, and leaves.
Soldier Fly Larva – For such a small grub, they sure can eat! Their intense appetite means they can eat a lot of greens and household waste, making these materials easier for worms to then eat and digest.
Worms – They may be slimy, but worms are one of the most important creatures of the compost pile. As they wriggle through the heap, they create passageways for air, water, and other nutrients to fall through. They also enjoy a varied diet of kitchen scraps, newspaper, and garden waste, which they then turn into cast – a substance that’s worth more than gold to a gardener.
Composting Critters Activity
Once you’ve talked to your kids about composting, have them test their knowledge with our composting critters activity. First, match the bug to their correct role. Then, circle which materials can be put in your compost – bonus points if you can circle which items are browns and greens (in their respective colours of course!). Check your answers using the downloadable answer sheet below.
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