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Family-Friendly Composting

When your home has little to no backyard, the thought of dedicating a 3-foot-by-3-foot plot of dirt to throw your family’s table scraps into sounds less than appealing. But, there is a much more kid and family friendly way to compost—it’s called vermicompost, which is a method of composting decomposable kitchen trash with the help of earthworms.

And, surprisingly, vermicomposting engages kids in giving back to the soil without the strong smells that come with the act of natural composting. With a vermicompost, all you need is a clear plastic container (about the size of a shoebox, with a lid), soil and a number of earthworms, explains Randy Johnson, director of horticulture at the Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park. “Kids absolutely love being told to ‘go feed the worms’ with kitchen scraps,” he says. “Then, the next day, the scraps will disappear—the worms gobble up the composted trash.” Scraps include fruit peels, uncooked vegetables and coffee grounds (among other organic trash), he adds, warning to avoid meats and pineapple (which is poisonous to the worms).

Vermicomposting is a speedier, less messy way to create fortified soil that naturally and organically fertilizes your lawn, trees and garden. “What’s more is that kids become responsible for living things (the worms), having to feed them and take care of them,” says Johnson. “You reap the benefits from having to buy less trash bags to creating natural fertilizer for your plants.”