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It's All About Compost

Crash Course
Compost Skit

Coloring Pages


"Nature does not compost, she mulches. Nature does not build piles of organic matter, mix in water and nutrients, turn the pile, and spread finished compost over the countryside. Nature mulches using thin layers and lets low temperature or "mesophilic" organisms do the decomposition at temperatures up to 120°F. Composting supports a different group of "thermophilic" (heat-loving) organisms that operate at a higher temperature range from 120°F up to 160°F. The organisms themselves generate this heat from the organic matter." The Joy of Composting.

Compost for the gardens can be created using three primary methods - cold composting, vermi composting with red wiggler worms, and hot composting.  Each comes with its own teaching possibilities.

  • At this time, most of our "waste" comes from leaves and garden debris.  We have such a large volume of this material that it is not practical to turn it by hand.  For the most part, we practice nature's way of passive "cold" composting. 
  • In the future we hope to establish a whole school composting program that will capture food waste from the cafeterias through vermi composting
  • Our third method of composting is the three bin "hot" method most touted for home use.

Related lesson plans


When in Our Garden Cycle

Compost Skit - Interactive skit to teach students about things that happen in the compost pile.  Skit is located in the barn for signing out.



Living Things Cause Changes - Compost is examined to understand the parts of the compost habitat and what changes leaves into compost.




Animals in the Ground Habitat - Students examine animals in the ground or compost habitat to explore animal adaptations unique to that habitat.  Information is compared their observations from the garden organisms lesson to show that organisms can survive only in certain environments that meet their needs.



Putting the Gardens to Bed - Students learn about the benefits of adding compost to the garden, remove and compost plants that will not overwinter, and add compost to their beds. 1 October
Putting the Gardens to Bed - Students understand that a compost pile is an energy source for the organisms inside and learn about the benefits of adding compost to the garden.  2 October
Putting the Gardens to Bed - Students understand how organic material is decomposed and the benefits of organic material in soil. 3 October

Putting the Gardens to Bed - Students understand how the process of decomposition impacts the Earth’s surface, and learn about the benefits of adding compost to the garden.



Benefits of Using Compost

  • Although the soil surface appears solid, air moves freely in and out of it. The air in the upper 8 inches of a well-drained soil is completely renewed about every hour. 
  • Improves the soil structure, porosity, and density, thus creating a better plant root environment. 
  • Increases moisture infiltration and permeability of heavy soils, thus reducing erosion and runoff. 
  • Improves water-holding capacity. 
  • Supplies a variety of macro and micronutrients. 
  • May control or suppress certain soil-borne plant pathogens. 
  • Supplies significant quantities of organic matter. 
  • Providesnutrients for plant use. 
  • Supplies beneficial micro-organisms to soils and organisms.
  • Can bind and degrade specific pollutants. 

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"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant." Robert Louis Stevenson

Continued appreciation to our original website sponsor Ellie Kowalchik of Comey and Shepherd.