Resource 3: Making compost
Background information / subject knowledge for teacher
The best and cheapest way to make garden soil better is to make your own compost. It only costs effort and a little bit of time and care.
Choose an out-of-the-way part of the school garden that is quite sunny. Clear away any weeds and rubbish.
When you have an open space, one of the pupils can mark out a circle with a radius of about 75 cm. If this pupil stands in the centre of the circle and turns around while holding out a walking stick, a good circle will have been drawn.
Take spades and dig up the soil in the circle. Dig to the depth of the blade of the spade. Use a garden fork to make the soil in the circle loose.
Make a small pile of spare soil next to your circle by moving about a third of your loosened soil from the circle.
Stick a central pole or straight branch into the soil in the centre of the circle.
Now you can start the compost-making process. Put a layer of twigs and old leaves you have collected on top of the loose soil. The more you have the better.
Next, put down a layer of stalks and stems from plants and any kitchen waste (potato peelings, old tea bags or tea leaves, eggshells). You can even add shredded scraps of paper.
Then add a dry layer of grass cuttings, dry grass or old dry leaves.
Finish by putting a thin layer of soil on top. Use the loosened soil from the pile next to your compost heap.
Go on adding more layers:
- first stalks, stems, twigs and leaves;
- then kitchen waste and green cuttings;
- then dry grass, old leaves and manure (if you can find it);
- finish each layer with a last layer of soil.
Sprinkle a little water – but don’t make the compost heap too wet.
The height will drop as the matter rots down. Then you can add more layers over time. Always keep a layer of soil on the top – this deters the flies.