Easy Composting for Kids

Kids, worms, a garden, and a pipe — that’s all you need for mess-free vemicomposting. Thanks to a tip from composting guru Benny Erez during a DC Master Gardeners training session, we’ve found an even easier way to get younger kids involved in composting: worm pipes. By easier, I mean, without fear of kids messing up the delicate balance of a scientifically managed compost heap, without worries about starving or drowning worms in the worm bin, and without the nuisance of creating a rodent hotel or starting a fruit fly circus in the classroom. Of course, kids of all ages are perfectly capable of working with all kinds of waste recycling, but this intriguing method is both inventive and nearly foolproof, it seems. The secret is a clever device called a worm pipe. Most of the pipes I’ve seen are four- or six-inch PVC cut into 3-foot segments, with holes drilled in a polka dot pattern all around the part that will be sunk into the ground. You want to sink the pipe deep enough to prevent burrowing critters from getting in and stealing the food. Similarly, you want the holes to be big enough for worms, but too small for larger tunneling creatures. At our house we left one foot of the pipe above ground to discourage pests from climbing in and to make it easier on the back. The top is capped with either a downturned pot or the pipe’s standard drain cap. I use the drain cap with slots to allow water in. We chop our kitchen waste into worm friendly bits and drop it in the tube. Kids love to feed the worm pipe. If you feed them, they will come. Some gardeners add worms to the pipe or the garden around the pipe,  just to be sure. Our garden was already pretty worm-friendly, so we didn’t bother. Either way, the worms get there. They eat, hang out in the 4-foot area surrounding this easy food source, and they poop. Voila! A composted garden plot without the need for a wheelbarrow, shovel, or garden fork.


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