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Composting: Fun for the family
And good for the environment, too.
As Yuma continues to warm up during spring and flowers bloom, many families may want to begin planting gardens. A good way to get young children involved in the process of creating a garden is to create a compost heap together.
Compost is made up of decomposed and recycled organic material that can be used as an organic fertilizer in gardens.
“It has been used by gardeners as a way to create fresh, organic material to enrich gardens long before ‘recycle' was a buzz word,” said Karen Bowen, an expert desert gardener and a contributing columnist to the Yuma Sun.
“Grass clippings, coffee grounds, eggshells, fruit and vegetable scraps, and dry leaves can all go into a pile to be composted.”
However, meat products, bread, sawdust or diseased clippings should never be added to a compost pile, she continued.
People shouldn't worry their compost heap will stink, said Jason Garcia, a Yuma man who keeps a compost pile in a bin in his backyard.
“A common misconception is that compost stinks and a lot of people don't want to do it. But the fact of the matter is that is smells like good soil, not like rotted fruits or vegetables.”
Garcia's entire family, including his 3-year-old son, Jason, contribute to the pile.
“When children help take material to the compost pile, they are learning not only about recycling but also how to be responsible for completing a task correctly,” Bowen said. “Composting is a way to teach them the importance of helping improve our environment by reusing materials instead of throwing them away.”
Children can be given the responsibility of taking out scraps of food that have been saved by the family and placing it in the heap. They can also help carry raked leaves and grass clippings to the pile once dad or mom is done mowing. “The chore of filling the compost bin becomes a family project which allows parents and children to connect in a fun way,” she said. “Recycling these good organic materials into garden compost helps keep our landfills less full and replenishes the soil with extra nutrients.”
The next step in the process of adding compost to garden soil and deciding what kind of vegetation to plant continues the process of bringing the family together, and shows children what can happen if everyone works together, Bowen said.
“When children see that their hard work paid off with good things to eat, they are proud and feel great accomplishment.”
Chris McDaniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6849.