One more quick thing to add to this looooong and helpful conversation...try listening to a book with earphones (the flatter the better so that you can lay down your head). You can download free public domain works at librivox.org to an MP3 player and listen with the volume turned down low. If you miss some of the content when you doze off, you can always dial back and pick it up later. Victorian novels seem to do the trick for me, but everyone's different. Some of the volunteer readers' voices are more soothing than others. You can check them out before downloading.
Older basil leaves get tough and the flavor changes a lot. I've used up and pesto'd the good stuff. Now I've got lots of basil that's over the hill but still green. Is there a way to use this or should I compost it?
I think it is as important to reach gardeners with permaculture ideas as it is to reach farmers, perhaps more so. For instance, there are over 110 million gardeners in the US, versus a little over 2 million farmers. Imagine if many or most gardeners were food gardening as in the example. That's a lot of food!
Several of you are using in-ground septic systems for degrading dog poop (as in City Farmer/Vancouver video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sud1JgBSc1Y). I've recently seen another video that suggests putting compostable dog poop bags in the unit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=if_nHfA93Mk. Has anyone tried this using compostable bags? If so, do they biodegrade down there fairly quickly or just fill up the unit? Is it smarter to shovel it in?
Composting partially rotted/bokashi'd food scraps in a trench works well in Colorado due to climate. Leftover Halloween candy, especially mini bars and candy corn really fire up the microbes. After a day or so, you can't even recognize the food in the trench. It's all nice soil.
Hi Jason - I can't think of a worse smell than heaps of raw dog manure! Cover the waste liberally with sawdust or wood chips with each new deposit. Pine bark works very well. Once covered, the odor will be controlled and it will degrade (molder) into less smelly material over time. At any point you can compost it as you would any other manure. Just don't use the compost on edible crops. If you don't own the kennels, suggest this solution to the people who do.
Super easy, bokashi recipe for 10 lbs. - thoroughly mix together into a spongy, fragrant material
4 Tbsp. EM-1
4 Tbsp. molasses
10 cups water
10 lbs. bran
Ferment the mixture in a tightly closed black plastic bag (no air!), kept it in a lidded container in moderate temps for 4-6 weeks. It's OK if there's just a bit of white mold on it. Unless you're using your batch right away, you'll need to store it. If you want to keep finished bokashi for the long term, you need to air day it. Spread it out on a tarp on a warm, arid, non-windy day for a few hours (or longer if possible). Very important to make sure all of it is very dry. (I didn't dry my last batch long enough and it got lumpy, smelly and moldy in storage; used it anyway but, yuck.)
A warm basement will make both bokashi and worms go at degradation faster. Just so it's not so hot the worms get baked!
Hi Coralee - Mr. Frenchie's system looks a lot like the commercial Bokashipetcycle System for dog waste. I always thought that this looked like an easy approach to fermenting because the buckets, all the ingredients and instructions for canine waste are provided with the product.
You mention elimination of toxoplasma in cat poo. Do you know of any studies or tests that show well-monitored fermenting via bokashi kills helminth ova/roundworm eggs in dog waste or toxoplasma bacteria in cat waste? I know hot composting does the trick for both, but haven't seen anything concrete about fermenting.
I'm assuming that it would be best to not include litter (clay, wheat, paper, wood, etc.) with the cat poop and that these would need to be disposed of or recycled separately. Is that right?
The average cat produces around 120 lb. of waste/daily litter per year. Anything that diverts this from landfills makes for a sustainable kitty.
Freezing temps with winter thaws is a real challenge. At the sled dog yards at Denali National Park in Alaska, they simply keep covering waste with sawdust and wait for spring to compost. But most of us don't have that long deep freeze.
You could switch from summer composting to either bokashi or vermicompost in containers in your basement, as long as temps don't drop much below 40 degrees. Both processes shouldn't produce odors if done properly, but there's the rub. It takes research, monitoring, experimenting to do either one right.
I'm thinking that for starters bokashi would be easier to handle. But you'll need to get the residuals into the ground during the thaws when you can bury it. Otherwise, you'll need lots of collection buckets.
But those vertical stacked worm bins with multiple trays are pretty slick and don't take up much space. The vermicompost and leacheate collect at the bottom for harvesting. Vermiculture residuals have less volume than bokashi and you can store them more easily. Your biggest job will be providing an environment that will keep the worms healthy. Check out how a bit of bokashi can help with that.
This is a p.s. I just talked to my composting pro and he suggests sprinkling a tablespoon of sugar to the lime / dog/cat poo per medium stump. (No, he's not Mary Poppins.) He thinks the sugar will energize the microbes when they go after the degraded fiber.
Hi Charles - Yes, my book does include d-i-y septic tank plans and lots of other practices. But you can go straight to the septic tank source by visiting the big kahuna - City Farmer's Urban Agricultural Notes http://cityfarmer.org/petwaste.html.
Rach - I've heard that raw pet diets really reduce the poop, so that's a good place to start (like "reduce, reuse, recycle." That compost bin is a great system. Now that you have more land and can do multiple bins, you could fill them part way, remove the bin, add soil and plant a tree or shrub on top. By the time the roots reach the poo, it will have degraded into fertilizer. This would have been a great way to plant those trees lining the entrance at Twelve Oaks in Gone with the Wind !
Maria - Aw - kittens! Wood shavings are also good litter. A shelter manager once told me that after switching to shavings they had fewer kitten respiratory problems. Maybe some cats react badly to the chemical additives in clay litter meant to minimize odor. But I haven't seen anything definitive on that.
I have a lot to learn, too, Anne. And I'm learning more with every post. Like you, affordability is key to me. Any time I consider adopting a better environmental alternative, I consider first cost and then effort. I'm notoriously economical, but I think the bigger factor is that expensive new items are fossil and resource intensive. As for effort, some things start out seeming like a lot of work. But you can usually figure out how to do them smarter.
Laurie - You've got the right approach to litter and diet. I like how you use water, ash and bits of yard waste to improve the degradation process. Recycling depends so much on instinct, climate, weather and materials at hand. You're always changing and adapting, so it's hard to pin things down with recipes. You might want to try my suggestion to Rach above and include partly filled pits into your landscape plans.
Oh my gosh, Dale - that's the most interesting use of pet poop I've come across! I'm assuming the ammonia/salts in the carnivore poop and lime eat away at the tough fibers and leaves degraded matter that can be consumed by soil organisms. This is a brilliant use of materials at hand! I have nothing further to suggest since you're already making as many plunge cuts as possible. How long does it take to make stumps disintegrate?
Nancy - You just got me started on two new ideas! I wonder how alfalfa pellets stack up to wood pellets cost-wise. I've also heard of people using peat moss for litter, but that might not be wise due to peat depletion. Some dispute that. Still need a definitive call on advisability of using peat for anything.
Polly - Try googling the Bokashi PetCycle Waste Disposal System. It's a commercial product, but I'll bet you could replicate it using two plastic containers, bokashi and water once you figure out how they do it. The dog poop turns into a kind of (sorrrrry) gravy that can be fed to ornamental plants once it's been allowed to finish/rest. Theoretically bokashi should work on multiple organic inputs. But try the poo monoculture and see if that works.
Pet Poo Guide is available online at Barnes and Noble for Nook readers and Amazon for Kindle.
Hi Polly - When I hear about chickens, I get jealous. They're the best recycling critters ever, and good for the soul. Bokashi will work with dog poo and you can mix in anything else the hens won't eat. Mix up your own bokashi - cheaply and easily. There are lots of simple recipes online that require only wheat bran, EM, molasses and water. When using the BBB method, throw in septic starter and water to help the poo degrade. If tree roots make it hard to bury bins, why not just dig some deep holes in spaces between roots and bury the raw poop, with some sawdust, shredded leaves or other available brown material. Deposit sparsely. As long as there are no vermin around to dig it up, the poop will degrade and feed tree roots.
Hello Sheri and Nancy! Bokashi does work with pet poo. Heck, EM will devour just about anything. There are so many ways to go about doing it from bokashi soup (immersion) to bokashi lasagna (layering in soil) that I think the trick is learning how to do it and simply adapting it to a system that works best for you. I've come to think of bokashi as a supplement to biodigestion, composting and vermiculture. Bokashi can jump-start degradation that will speed up the next step. It significantly holds down odor in any system.
I have a friend who degrades cat and dog poo via composting/biodigesting before feeding it to worms. If you want to read a funny and thoroughly scientific cat poop vermicomposting study, check out http://www.amnh.org/learn-teach/young-naturalist-awards/winning-essays2/2005-winning-essays/got-cats-get-worms. It was done by Eric, a 17-year-old who won an American Museum of Natural History Young Naturalist Awards for his project. Skip the metrics if you want and check out how he got worms to clean litter boxes . Kind of labor-intensive for people, but charming! He found that the worms reduced the coliform count drastically. No mention of toxo since his cats were all tested and found to be pathogen-free from the get-go.
Speaking of taxo, the CDC estimates that in the United States 22.5% of the population 12 years and older has been infected with Toxoplasma (it is also acquired by eating undercooked, contaminated meat), though adults with a healthy immune system who become infected often do not have symptoms. The key to controlling toxo is keeping it away from water sources where it thrives. Don't flush or biodigest cat waste or bury it in run-off areas. You can destroy toxo it you compost cat waste at high temperatures and cure it sufficiently to produce finished compost.
Bentonite clay cat litter as an excellent soil additive is a new one on me! I'll have to read up on Coleman's thoughts. From what I've gathered, clay litter is strip mined, which is not an environmentally cool process. And clay doesn't compost. Pee is almost always a plus for composting, however, which is why animal bedding works well with manure. A great, cheap litter is small animal bedding (pine pellets) available at feed supply stores. Takes a bit more finesse to clean the litter box. But cats seem to like it and the pine cuts odors. Of course, you might have the world's most persnickety cat!
Wow - lots of excellent information about turning pet poop into compost and vermicompost! Adding some Bokashi to a worm bin does help break down material and make it tastier for the little guys. Re heavy metals and worms - I came across an interesting item while writing the book.
Researchers from the Pondicherry University in India discovered that earthworms can significantly decrease heavy metals, like, cadmium, copper, lead, manganese and zinc, from municipal solid waste. Microorganisms in the worms’ primitive digestive tract pull heavy metal ions from material passing through. Metals become locked in the worms’ tissue. When the worms are removed, the vermicompost is safe for agricultural use.
Remediation of heavy metals from urban waste by vermicomposting using earthworms: Eudrilus eugeniae, Eisenia fetida and Perionyx excavatus, Swati Pattnaik, M. Vikram Reddy, International Journal of Environment and Waste Management, 2012 Vol.10, No.2/3, pp.284 - 296
Hello, permies! I'm Rose Seemann, happy to be your visiting author for the week of June 1. I'll be talking about the scintillating topic of dog and cat waste recycling. I'm sure you all have unique opinions and approaches regarding this subject. So in addition to answering questions (and digging up answers), I'll be interested in hearing your perspectives. My company, EnviroWagg, composts tons of dog waste in Metro Denver and Boulder, Colorado into garden soils . I've researched the subject and included this data, plus feedback from DIY-ers, in my new book, The Pet Poo Pocket Guide. I look forward to talking with you next week!