by Erin Wright, Children’s Garden Educator & Horticulturist, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
My favorite recent addition to the Children’s Garden is our three bin compost system. Not only is composting an easy way to keep useful organic material out of the landfill, it results in the best soil amendment a gardener could wish for. Our system was built with the help of some high school students who spent their mini- mester with us this spring, and the Geezers, a faithful volunteer group who builds and repairs all kinds of structures all over the Garden. The compost system will be maintained with the help of the Service Learning Students who will keep it watered, record temperature and turn the pile once a month.
The first bin in our system is called the starter bin. This is the section to which we add organic matter — weeds and plant parts from the garden, as well as scraps of vegetable matter from our lunches. We will even get coffee grounds and food scraps from The Garden Cafe & Robins Tea House twice a week to add to our pile.
The second bin is called the resting bin. Once we have a significant amount of plant matter collected, we will cover it with finished compost, and let the enzymes, bacteria, fungi and other creatures in the soil do their work. All we have to do is keep the pile moist and turn it once a month.
The last bin holds our finished compost. We will use the compost in this bin to inoculate the resting compost, and also to add to our soil for a nutrient boost.
The next time you are in the Children’s Garden, stop by the picnic area to see how easy and beneficial it is to make compost. Feel free to add scraps from your own picnic too- just read the signs to make sure that your addition will be appropriate for the compost pile. Maybe you will be inspired to create your own compost pile at home!