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Soda Pop Vermicomposting

This is an excellent way to teach children about the process of composting and the many benefits of using it in the garden. Setting up stations works really well for assembling your tabletop vermicomposter. Lay down tablecloths or drop cloths. With young ones, we preassemble the composters for them ahead of time. The stations are as follows: 1. Paper Shredding 2. Buckets of Water for Wetting Paper 3. Top Soil for Worms 4. Worm Bin 5. Kitchen Scraps (See pg. 2 for details) 6. Potting Soil 7. Seeds, Bulbs, Plants 8. Construction Paper Cover: Decorate with Markers and Stickers. SAFETY NOTES! Always be very careful when using hot water! Sharp scissors have to be used to cut the bottles; if you have a ragged cut edge on the bottle it may scratch fingers and hands. Care should be taken at all times.

Making a Soda Bottle Vermicomposter
Created by Kimberly Furry and Bonnie Rogers, www.gaiagardengirl.blogspot.com

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You will need: • Two, 2-liter Plastic Soft Drink Bottles (labels removed), preferably clear, but green will work too. • Scissors • Rubber Bands • Dremel, Awl or Hammer and Nail for making holes in cap or just Pantyhose if you want to pass on making holes in the cap • Top Soil and Potting Soil • Red Wiggler Worms (http://www.unclejimswormfarm.com/) • Compostable Kitchen Scraps (See Side Note Page 2) Cut around bottle number 1 as indicated by the dotted lines in the photograph. You can recycle the top section or use it as a greenhouse cover for your planting area. The bottom section will be referred to as the “flower” section. Follow the picture references for the sections.

• Paper preferably without ink or print • Seeds, Plants (Like Spider Plant), Forced Bulbs (Like Crocus) To remove the label cleanly: • Fill the bottle with hot water (not too hot, or it will buckle). • Screw the cap back on the bottle and in a short time the label should peel off. • Empty the water out of the bottle. Using Dremel or awl or hammer and nail, rout or punch holes to make air vents for the worms in the “sun” section. Air vents also help to encourage aerobic decay in organisms. Punch or drill air holes in the soda cap. If this is too difficult, then remove the cap, wrap a section of pantyhose over the opening and hold tight with a rubber band. This step is necessary for drainage and to prevent the worms from falling into the “plant” section. Last, make holes in the “cloud” section so the water will drain into the sun section to keep your compost and worms moist!

Cut around bottle number 2 as shown. This will create your last two sections. The larger section will be referred to as the “sun” section and the smaller bottom section will be called the “cloud” section.

The compost tea will drain into the “plant” section. Rich with nutrients, this can be reused to water your plants in the “cloud” section or other plants in or outside your home.

The “sun” section will house your wet, shredded paper; top soil, worms and kitchen scraps. The “cloud” section will hold potting soil; plants, seeds, and/or bulbs.

Created by Kimberly Furry, www.gaiagardengirl.blogspot.com

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Do’s and Don’ts for Composting
DO put in your Composter:
Grass Clippings Weeds Tree Leaves Bread, Pasta, Rice Coffee Grounds Rinsed Egg Shells Soil Water Paper (If Printed, Preferably with Soy-Based Inks) Paper Towels, Napkins, Straw Wrappers Fruit and Vegetable Peels Vegetable and Flower Plant Parts Corn based (PLA) cups, plates, straws & utensils Tea Bags (Remove Staples)

Making a Soda Bottle Vermicomposter
Fit the pieces together to make a compost column. Fit each section of the bottle inside the section below it. This reduces the chance of algae growing in the area where the bottles join. Shred about ten 8x10” size pieces of blank paper (preferably no ink print on it). Submerge the shredded pieces into a bucket of water. Then squeeze out the excess water and add to your container in the “sun” section. Next add 3-4 scoopfuls of top soil. Do NOT use potting soil. The additives can kill the worms. Then add the worms (5-10 red worms). Top with kitchen scraps.

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Lastly, add a few pieces of construction paper around the worm section and secure to the bottle with two rubber bands. You can make a little window that the child can lift up to examine the compost and worms, but you can easily slide off the construction paper and slide it back on when done observing. The worms like it dark so this is why we have the covering around them.

DON’T put in your Composter:
Bones Grease Dairy Products: Butter, Milk Cat or Dog Manure Meat Rocks Foil or Metal Styrofoam Wax Plastic Glass Chemicals Cans You can clip this section out and attach it to your refrigerator, composter or somewhere nearby for a quick reference.

Ideas and Questions: • You can use your compost column to see what materials biodegrade the fastest. • If you chop things up before putting them in the column, does this make any difference to what happens? • Is there a difference in what happens if the material you put in the column is wet or dry? • Do you have a liquid collecting at the bottom of the column? This is called compost tea and can be reused on your plants. It’s filled with awesome nutrients that the plants love!

Make sure to keep your worms moist by watering your plant as needed. Do not

water too much or your worms may drown!
The last part is planting the top section of the composter. This is the “cloud” section. Add potting soil (okay to use potting soil in this section) to the top section of the composter. Seeds, plants or small bulbs can be planted here. You can use the left over top to cover your plants/seeds/bulbs to make a mini-greenhouse to get them started well. Keep a record of what you see. In no time, your worms will be chubby, happy and making vermicompost for your spring garden! Edited and modified from the Making Sense of Health website: http://www.makingsenseofhealth.org.uk/defa ult.asp?section=Teacher&chapter=teachers earch&chapsection=displayactivity&iLesson =60&iActivity=229

Created by Kimberly Furry, www.gaiagardengirl.blogspot.com

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Created by Kimberly Furry, www.gaiagardengirl.blogspot.com

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