Education & Outreach
Dedicated outreach about composting
As part of past outreach efforts, we have donated 3 full compost kits to prominent community gardens from around the area of Sacramento, CA, Amherst, MA and Ft. Lauderdale, FL. We are also giving out our new book “Compost & Garden Education” for preK-5 students and their teachers to several preschools around the Amherst area.
Download the curriculum
- guided activities to start composting, including setting up a compost bin (below), worm composting, and more!
- activities for children including word search and coloring pages!
- information for instructors on why compost and where to learn more!
How to: Compost Bin
What you need
- Large bin with opening on the top, purchase online @ Amazon
- Thermometer, purchase online @Amazon
- Moisture probe, purchase online @ Amazon
- Soil sieve, purchase online @ Amazon
- Food waste
- Yard trimmings
What you do:
- Each student is given a 2-Liter bottle.
- Using scissors and following the diagram, cut off the top two inches of the bottle. This is where your compostable items will stay.
- Add 1-2 cups of soil to the bottle along with various compostable materials. You should have a ratio of 2:1 greens: browns.
1st Lay twigs or straw first.
Why? This helps drainage and aerates the pile.
2nd Lay a layer of “greens”.
3rd Lay a layer of “browns”.
4th Continue to alternate “greens” and “browns” remembering the analogy 2:1.
5th Add “greens” (manure) like grass clippings, buckwheat, wheatgrass, etc.
Why? Even though the use of manure in farming has declined dramatically over the years, manure is still a valuable fertilizer for any farming operation.
6th Cover with anything you have (wood, plastic sheeting). Covering will prevent the compost from being over-watered by rain.
Add some water for moisture. You will know that the water is enough when you have enough to create a sponge-like environment. For best results slightly water each layer you add in your compost bin.
DAY 2 (after 2-3 days)
- After 2-3 days, observations can be made and notes may now be taken about the changes happening with the compostable items and how the soil in the bottle altered.
What to expect
Decomposition has started to take place in your compost bin! Now you may be able to see a humus-like material that is great for your gardening!
Can I use soil from my own garden?
For living organisms to grow on your soil it needs to be light, loose, crumbly and “fluffy”. Depending on how well you keep your garden your soil may or may not be suitable for composting. For example, pH levels can be crucial to your plant’s ability to absorb nutrients. A pH between 6.5-6.8 is perfect for most minerals and nutrients to be absorbed. It doesn’t matter how rich it is in nutrients, the plants won’t be able to absorb them. If you would like to use soil from your own garden then you can get your soil tested here: https://nifa.usda.gov/Extension/ or purchase your own testing kit here: http://www.planetnatural.com/product/soil-test-kit/