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Hey kids!


Compost is made by mixing together lots of green garden stuff (old weeds and everything in the garden your mum or dad or whoever wants to dump) and some old food from the kitchen - the stuff you refuuuusssed to eat last night (which goes in your scrap food bucket - and which if you're reeeealllly lucky (joke) your mum makes you carry out three or four times a week) - and you put all that together with some not so green weeds, eg, the brown dried bits, and then some animal poos (not dog poos) but sheep or cow or horse poos or chook poos, and let all that break down or rot with the green and brown stuff.

Organic gardeners try to make sure that only organic things are used in their compost piles.

They try to make sure they put no chemicals or poisons in their composts that might end up in the dirt which is in their gardens and then end up in the veges they planted and then end up in their mouths. Yuck! And that's an understatement!

All sorts of good things can be put in the compost, and believe me, this is the kind of compost that truely makes good vegetables and fruit and even good cake. To make this great compost, first you just have to have sunshine and rain and fresh air - but you also need - and here are the other ingredients ............ leaves! grass clippings! leftover food!  animal manure! seaweed! weeds! even human hair! Basically, anything that is natural and will decompose over time. Even old socks, as long as they are made from wool or cotton.

Now for some serious facts:

1. Some people use meat and dairy products like cheese in their compost pile while others donít because they believe it attracts mice and rats. Some people are vegetarians and vegans and don't have this stuff anyway.

2. Newspaper and other paper can also be composted but can take a long time to rot so is best shredded or torn up into little pieces before being added to the compost pile. Organic gardeners, though donít use paper with colours on it, because often the dyes used to make the colours have chemicals in them which if put in the compost will eventually make their way into the garden. Is your newspaper made from vegetable dyes or chemical dyes? Ask your parents!!! Tell them to ring the newspaper and find out the real truth - or get the number and do so yourself!

3. All these things will in time crumble down until they look the same as scrumptious chocolate cake, only slightly more tasting and looking like dirt, which is just as well for your vegetables and fruit, which prefer yummy rich dirt to chocolate cake any way.

4. Put all the compost ingredients in a pile, which you then cover with black polythene or similar, to keep the heat in. This way the rotting process is sped up and the compost ingredients will cook like a cake does in the oven (by slowly rotting and magically turning into a lovely brown humus). Add a bit of water if need be, to keep it moist. 

5. Digging your pile with a fork now and then will make it rot or "cook" faster, because digging lets air into the pile. When the compost rots or decomposes with the air, it means the compost is aerobic, which makes good compost. If it doesn't have air it is going to be anaerobic - it will still decompose but it will take a lot longer and smell a lot worse.

6. There are also special kinds of worms called compost worms that can survive the heat which builds up in a compost pile. By digging tunnels they make holes for the air to travel through the compost pile - they help aerate , or let air through the pile. They also eat everything you put in the compost and then leave it behind as worm poo, which is a great fertiliser for the garden.

7. Compost piles can get very hot which is good because the heat can kill any diseases which may have been on the plants or other things that went into the compost. You don't want those diseases to get on your new plants because the plants won't grow very well. Fortunately, a hot compost kills them.

8. If youíre not sure whether your compost is going to get really hot it is best not to put in any diseased plants or any parts of weeds that have seeds on them because they will be spread around the garden when you use the compost in it.

9. You know when the compost is ready to use because it turns the colour of dark brown dirt and it smells like earth rather than something rotten, and you canít really see what you put in the compost pile in the first place. (The smaller the things you put in the pile to begin with, the quicker it will turn into compost).

10. Once everything in the pile has composted - they will have rotted down and turned into a healthy clean smelling mixture called humus - the compost can be spread around the garden to help "build up" the soil and feed the plants. All the things that are good for fruit and vegetables, that used to be in the bits and pieces you put your compost pile, can now be sucked up by the plants to help them grow.  Eventually these plants themselves will be eaten by us to help us grow, and any leftovers will go back into the compost - and round and round it goes.

Composting is good for the Earth. It is part of recycling because you put the food waste from the kitchen into a compost pile in your backyard to make a rich soil which you then feed to your plants - which you then eat! And anything you don't eat you can put back into the garden!

Key words

Organic: when making compost use things like fruit, vegetables, plants, paper, food, grass, animal manure and other natural things.

Manure: Horse, cow, sheep poo - any plant eating animal poo is okay.  Don't use cat and dog poo.

Balance/harmony: Organic gardening lets the vegetables and the soil and the insects all work together in harmony, so keeping the natural balance.

Aerobic : When you turn your compost pile with a fork, the kitchen and garden waste, etc, breaks down with the help air - and that's called aerobic decomposition.

Aerate : Compost worms aerate compost by digging tunnels which lets the air flow through the compost heap.

Anaerobic : When the compost rots without air it is called anaerobic; it still rots but it will take a lot longer and smell a lot worse.

Decomposition : When dead plants and food scraps (waste) crumble and rot down and turn into Compost!

Humus : the earthy clean smelling soil that compost becomes.

P. D. Paw

The following advertisements are not placed by Organic Pathways and are not necessarily organic