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Composting Made Easy

Composting is an activity the whole family can do together, and it gives kids hands-on experience with recycling and seeing science in action. While it might seem intimidating at first, you can start composting on your own quite easily and with minimal instruction. You could even start this weekend with a few steps.

Composting Bin Construction

Grab the kids and head to your local hardware store to buy the bin. Unless you plan to use a rake or a stick to stir your heap, you'll want to also pick up a compost aerator. You can usually snag a ready-made composting bin for less than $150, or in a few easy steps, you and the kids can turn a regular garbage can into a bin. A homemade composting bin needs ventilation, so drill several holes about 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter along the sides and bottom of the garbage can. Place the bin in a spot in your yard that gets a lot of sunlight and prop it up on a few bricks to allow proper air flow; then it's ready to fill.

Fill 'er Up

According to Lowe's, composting requires four things: nitrogen, carbon, oxygen and water. After your family gets the hang of easy composting, you can add more materials, but until then, you simply need to add an even mixture of brown and green elements to the bin. Start with brown items, such as sticks, twigs and mulch. Then add green items, such as grass clippings, and just enough water to dampen the materials. Give it a stir with a compost aerator, rake or stick at least once a week.

Keep it Safe

After you fill your bin, place the lid on and secure it with a bungee cord to keep out snoopy squirrels and raccoons. Each time you fill your bin, always cover the materials with a thin layer of grass clippings, mulch or sticks. Rodents will be less inclined to jump in and steal your eggshells that way.

Keep it Full

Set out a container where your family can easily place compostable materials throughout the day and take it out to the bin at a convenient time. You can dump materials in the bin daily — just add a small amount of water every time to keep things damp. Compostable materials include eggshells (rinsed with water), coffee grounds, banana peels, fruit cores, table scraps, grass clippings, leaves, flowers and yard waste. Avoid adding meat, bones, fat, grease, dairy products or pet waste to your compost bin. You can add garden soil to help decrease odors and jump-start the composting process.

Spread it Out

Lowe's suggests allowing the compost materials to decompose until they feel crumbly, look dark and smell earthy before spreading them on your garden beds and lawn. You can use your compost as a natural fertilizer for your yard, as mulch on your plants, as a way to enrich soil or to create a compost tea fertilizer by soaking a shovelful of compost in a bucket full of water for a few days.

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