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Dog poo compost question  RSS feed

 
fiona smith
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Location: UK
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Since my first home made compost is going well, from garden waste, I have heard about composting dog poo.

So I have collected all my dogs droppings and put them in a large plastic bag. Now what?

do i just dig a hole in the garden and put it all in? how long before I can use it?

Thanks.
 
John Elliott
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Carnivore poo is more of a problem than herbivore poo when it comes to pathogens, breakdown, and nitrogen burn. Horse and rabbit manure need little to no composting to be suitable for the garden. But animals on a high protein meat diet excrete a lot of nitrogen and if it is applied directly, it can be too much for the plants and burn their roots. That extra nutrition can also keep a multitude of pathogens going, so it's a good idea to hot compost it or put it through a wet process where the anaerobes get killed off by aerobic organisms. The good thing about the modern dog diet is that it is mostly corn and soybean, with not a whole lot of real meat, so it's not as bad as having wolf or coyote scat to compost.

If you have a good size compost pile and you can bury it in the middle and leave it there for several weeks, that is one alternative. If you don't, tell us how you are doing your composting and we may have improvements to suggest.
 
fiona smith
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Location: UK
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Thanks John.

Yes I do have a 6X6X6 foot compost pile. I will put it in the middle.

Also off topic a little...

Can I use fire ash in my compost, I use wood and sometimes coal.
Thanks
 
John Elliott
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fiona smith wrote:

Can I use fire ash in my compost, I use wood and sometimes coal.


Wood ashes are half of an excellent fertilizer, the other half is urine. If you look at the NPK numbers for urine and wood ashes, together they are worth their weight in 10-10-10 fertilizer! Being that concentrated, you don't want to put it directly on your plants, but diluted 1 part in 10 parts of water, you can put is anywhere and everywhere, including the compost pile.
 
Leila Rich
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Fiona, you're most probably fine to use dog poo if you treat it as John suggests.
If I was composting meat-eater's waste (people, cats, dogs etc) I'd make a separate pile and use it on trees and fruiting plants.

Coal is pretty nasty stuff and I wouln't use it near plants.
Do you know your soil's ph? wood ash is very alkaline and if your soil isn't quite acidic, I'd be very careful about it.
In NZ, people used to dump ashes on their paths.
 
Tim Malacarne
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Just my 2 cents, but I wouldn't compost pet poop. Many compost experts will tell you to avoid it...... As far as wood ashes, they also say to apply it directly to your garden soil, rather than add it to a compost pile, because in the pile it serves to drive off something or other. Nitrogen, mebbe? IDK.....
 
fiona smith
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My soil is more acidic.

thanks guys.
 
Lyvia Dequincey
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I always hear that's dog solids are better in the septic, but that doesn't work for me. I will pick it up, but not (routinely) carry it through the house. And I don't want it mixed in with my other compost. So I was thinking of digging a dog septic, like a doggie dooley. Basically a buried bottomless trash can, with an enzyme boost and occasional water. Maybe throw comfrey in it, too. Would that be an alternative? What would be the essential components of an outdoor doggie septic?

Hope I am more moving towards the answer and less hijacking the thread
 
John Elliott
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Lyvia Dequincey wrote:I always hear that's dog solids are better in the septic, but that doesn't work for me. I will pick it up, but not (routinely) carry it through the house. And I don't want it mixed in with my other compost. So I was thinking of digging a dog septic, like a doggie dooley. Basically a buried bottomless trash can, with an enzyme boost and occasional water. Maybe throw comfrey in it, too. Would that be an alternative? What would be the essential components of an outdoor doggie septic?

Hope I am more moving towards the answer and less hijacking the thread


All a septic tank is, is a place for the septics to finish their lifecycle and get eaten by something else in the leach field that will in turn contribute to the soil food web. "Septics" here being a catchall term for those microbes that have the potential to make us sick. You get a cut on your hand, and you put antiseptic on it so it won't get infected and give you septic shock. Now since septics are not too picky about whose gut they want to live in (and possibly give diarrhea to) we mammalian carnivore/omnivores need to segregate our shit --literally, keep it away, keep flies from landing on it and spreading disease, keep the lid on the doggie dooley. Insect frass, goat droppings, elk duds, they just don't provide a good medium for our gut pathogens, and so we don't need to be so particular in handling them.

The bottomless trash can is a great idea, and adding enzymes or the septic tank booster sawdust works too. I don't have any experience with comfrey, but plant based digestives (and that includes pineapple rinds and kiwi and papaya skins) should also help break down nitrogenous compounds.

The essential components are: a tight fitting lid, a way to add water, and a drain field downstream from it. If a 1500 gallon septic tank for a medium sized house can get by with a 50 foot drain field, an improvised bottomless trash can probably get by with just a few feet. It all depends on your soil food web and what plants are nearby. If you have a good sized tree next to the doggie dooley, what you add will probably get recycled in a matter of days during the growing season.
 
Sean Banks
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just hot compost it....140 degrees temperatures in the pile should kill worms and other parasites....................add sawdust as the carbon source and treat it like humanmanure......wait a year or 2 before using it in your garden
 
fiona smith
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Sean Banks wrote:just hot compost it....140 degrees temperatures in the pile should kill worms and other parasites....................add sawdust as the carbon source and treat it like humanmanure......wait a year or 2 before using it in your garden


what can I use to make sure the temp is 140?

I was thinking a regular thermometer, or do I need a special one
thanks
 
Julia Winter
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We made a doggy septic tank by burying a 55 gallon plastic barrel. You leave the bottom intact (this kind of breakdown works best when really liquid) and drill a bunch of holes about a foot from the bottom, going on up. The barrel we had was originally for pickles, I think, and thus had a nice big screw-on lid. We dug a rather large deep hole in between our apple trees, back in the heavily mulched shady area between a line of pine and spruce where no lawn was growing. Digging the hole was the only hard part. It ended up with its shoulders a little above ground level, so I surrounded it with rocks and planted ferns and lily of the valley around it. The barrel was dark grey and the lid was grey as well, so it wasn't/isn't obtrusive, back there in the shade.

Our first attempt at this, we put holes in the bottom as well as the sides, and that one filled up (we had two large dogs, and decomposition just couldn't keep up). The second one works a lot better. Every so often I would drag the hose over to fill up the barrel, to help the leachate leach out and help the stuff inside collapse. It didn't smell as horrible as you might guess, but we tried to keep the lid on (it had a hole in the center). I've looked at the first barrel (after more than three years of being left alone) and it looks like lovely black dirt in there. If I wasn't moving I would get out the post hole digger and empty it... Our second dog died this winter, so I haven't looked in either barrel this spring--too busy trying to prepare for our move.

I figure the apple trees were getting nutrition from these, but none of the food ever physically contacted the dog waste. The pines and spruces are likely sending over feeder roots as well.
 
wendy james
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katherine jones wrote:Is it suggested to mix compost? I have been reading about kitchen waste compost and planning to do it this weekend and am wondering if I can mix my dog's Poo?


I wouldn't suggest mixing. I'd like to keep it clean by separating waste compost.
 
Megan Palmer
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Fiona, I have a couple of worm farms and feed one of them exclusively on dog poo, with holding for a couple of weeks after the dogs had been wormed. The worms thrived although the castings did not look as dark and rich as that from kitchen waste. I also add coffee grinds, shredded paper and contents of our bag less vacuum cleaner. I only use the finished castings on flowers and trees. Lyvia's outdoor septic using a bottomless lidded bin can be used effectively with Bokashi bran as the activator http://www.zingbokashi.co.nz/testimonials/wastemanagement.htm
 
fiona smith
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Great stuff thanks. I have made my own vermi- bin just last week and only thought of giving them the kitchen waste! I didn't know they liked dog poops! Thought it was a job for the flies.
I have a lot to learn about nature, but with you guys I can't go far wrong!

 
Lyvia Dequincey
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So I could put worms in my dog septic? or would the volunteer worms be plenty? Maybe a starter handful in the spring? What kind of worms are talking about? As the worms can get out through the "leach field", native or non-destructive is important.

We are in northern virginia; I never understood the frost line here. We get a few five day cold snaps each winter, but more typical is muddy blustery high thirties to fifties. Snow is often melted by midday, but there are exceptions. I suppose the ground freezes too hard to dig Jan/Feb, except we usually have a couple clear blue sky warm spells, each about five days in the sixties.

In order to do year round worms, I would need something like the pipe no-freeze tape, but that is infrastructure that creates its own needs, which may be worse than the freeze damage. Adding a handful of worms in the spring is likely easier.
 
Julia Winter
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I'm thinking that vermicompost and septic tank style breakdown are different things. Worms need air, septic tank bacteria work under anaerobic conditions, I think.

I had great results once we set up a tank (a barrel, actually) with a solid-floored intact "bucket" at the bottom, so there was always a reservoir of bacterial life in the water/muck at the bottom. When I filled up the barrel with water, it would leach out through all the holes, carrying liquified matter out to the waiting tree roots.
 
Julia Winter
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If you have a bottomless (bottom cut off) container, then the worms should be fine. It's just that for us, just having drain holes in the bottom meant that the contents of the barrel didn't get wet enough for long enough to break down. I would fill it with the hose every day, and I could see it draining as the water poured in. (The soil is really good at our place!) With just one dog, or maybe two smaller dogs, it might have been OK. We had a 70 lb dog and a 90 lb dog and that was too much for the 55 gallon barrel with drain holes in the bottom (and all over the sides).

Our version 2.0, with no drain holes until at least 10 inches from the bottom, worked beautifully.
 
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