A Guide to Composting for Kids!

Our planet is made up water, trees, and other natural resources that help plants and animals get the food they need. Since these resources are not unlimited, it is important to protect them. One way kids can help protect natural resources is by composting. Compost is a type of soil that forms when living materials break down. Researchers are not sure exactly when people started composting, but ancient empires and tribes used manure and rotted materials to grow their crops. Native Americans used compost to grow food. American settlers used decomposing fish to create compost. As more people learned about the importance of protecting natural resources, composting became more popular. People use compost to grow food and flowers, fix sandy soils, and mulch their gardens.

Ingredients

It is important to have the right ingredients in compost. These ingredients should be biodegradable, which means that they break down over time. Some of the best compost ingredients are dead houseplants, rabbit manure, vegetable scraps, dried tomato vines, leaves, and sunflower stalks. Each ingredient serves a purpose in a compost pile. Dead plants add nitrogen to the pile, which makes the compost better for gardening. Some types of manure have a lot of important minerals that help create good compost.

Recipe

There are several easy recipes to use for composting. One recipe calls for water, green yard waste, and brown yard waste. Green yard waste is waste that contains a lot of nitrogen. Fresh grass clippings are one of the easiest types of green waste for kids to find. Brown yard waste is waste that contains a lot of carbon. Twigs, straw, leaves, and dried bean plants are all types of brown waste. Simply layer the waste and add water to the pile. After one year or more, the bottom of the pile will contain dark compost. Separate it from the pile and keep adding waste to create more compost.

An easy twist on this recipe is to add organic food waste to the green and brown yard waste. Organic food waste includes potato peels, carrot peels, and other similar materials. Mix the organic food waste with the green and brown yard waste. Add an inch of soil and some water to the pile. Turn the pile every week to let in nitrogen and oxygen. Fresh compost will form in as little as four weeks, but it may take up to a year. There are several household items that can help kids make good compost. Human hair, facial tissues, peanut shells, tea bags, coffee grounds, eggshells, wood ashes, and paper coffee filters are just a few of the options.

Micro-organisms

Active compost contains many micro-organisms, which are organisms so small you cannot even see many of them. One type of micro-organism found in compost is fungi. Fungi have their very own kingdom, making them an important part of the earth. These micro-organisms come in many shapes and colors. Many of them produce spores. Since fungi like damp places, they are great for compost piles. Mushrooms are one of the easiest types of fungi to recognize.

Bacteria are organisms that have just one cell, making them very tiny. Bacteria are so tiny that you cannot see them with your eyes. These micro-organisms have adaptations that make it possible to live everywhere. Kids have bacteria on their teeth and in their noses. Bacteria also live in harsh environments like the Arctic. Bacteria come in three main shapes: round, rod, and spiral.

Algae are a type of micro-organism that lives in the water. Ponds, lakes, streams, and oceans all have algae living in them. These organisms are similar to plants because they contain chlorophyll. Chlorophyll helps plants use sunlight to make food and energy. Algae eat the sugar produced by this process. The oxygen produced is given off in the water so fish can breathe. There are many types of algae in the world. Some have only one cell and others have many cells.

Viruses are a type of micro-organism that causes diseases. Active viruses live inside the cells. This makes it possible for them to reproduce. A virus is made up of one or two strands of RNA or DNA, which are types of acid. Protein surrounds these strands and protects them. Chickenpox and the flu are two diseases caused by viruses.

Protozoa live in the soil and water. These micro-organisms have only one cell. Since there are so many varieties, scientists classify protozoa within four groups. Amoebas surround their food and then break it down with enzymes. Ciliates have tiny projections that help them move. These projections look like strands of hair. Flagella have long structures that look like tails. These structures help them move. Sporozoans are unable to move on their own. These micro-organisms live inside humans and animals. This makes them parasites.

 

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