Usually when I have meat that's gone bad, or poultry or lamb bones that are all squished up after having been pressure-cooked for bone broth, I give the remnants to a neighbor's pig. That's still an option. But, I'm wondering if I can capture the nutrition for my own garden.
As I was filleting a fish, I realized that people pay a lot of money for fish meal or fish bone meal for their gardens. So I thought I'd start saving things like that, and used soup bones, and bury them in my garden (like a foot deep, to avoid vermin).
Which then raised an additional question. My MIL ordered 20 lbs of raw ground rabbit (with bones and organs) for her cats, but delivery has gone sideways and since it's coming late, it may not be possible to feed to her cats (If it arrives thawed). When this happened before, it went to the pigs. But it got us wondering whether we can bury this in the garden too.
Our property abuts a creek, but which is about 275-325 feet from the garden. Still, we don't want excess nitrogen leaking into it and harming the waterway.
1) Is anything about this just plain a bad idea?
2) Is burying 1 foot the right depth? (we're in the country, so assume rats, coyotes, racoons). I'm not advanced enough to be doing hot-composting (yet), and also putting it in an aboveground pile would make me more concerned about vermin.
3) I read somewhere to mix it with sawdust and ag lime before burying (which was talking about a single dead animal, not 20 lbs of meat). While I theoretically know one wants a 30:1 ratio going into a compost pile, I don't know what this means in terms of volume of sawdust to volume of rabbit meat (or soup/fish bones) getting buried directly in the garden.
4) I think mixing it up with biochar would help reduce leaching. Yes? How much? I make it in my fireplace.
5) Would I want to bury under walking paths, rather than right under future plants b/c planting will happen in only about 6 months? (Also i do have some fall beds with young plants)
Thank you in advance for any ideas on this!
Vashon Island, WA
I cannot really speak to burying it directly into a garden, but when I still ate meat on a regular basis I put meat, bones, etc. into the compost pile without any issues.
If you worry about drugs pumped into animal meat then I'd recommend a second compost pile that sits for a longer period. This is what I do for humanure compost (an excellent book for a solid alternative to modern plumbing and/or compost toilets).
If you think about it, animals die in the forest all the time and they simply either get eaten by other animals or disolve into the soil... and forest soil tends to be excellent due to the layers of leaves, animal droppings, dead plants, and decomposed fruit and animals.
Hopefully someone further along this path will have some knowledge of using meat directly in a garden... but if not hopefully this helps at least somewhat. To prevent smells in my compost pile I simply used a container with a foot pedal in the house for food scraps and layered sawdust on top of things to kill odors and keep fruit flies away.
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posted 6 months ago
I routinely bury dead animal parts and carcasses in the garden. My strategy is to get about a foot of dirt over them. That's a totally arbitrary depth, but it works fine for me. There are a lot of animals around here that get hit by vehicles. For increased fertility, I could be harvesting those, and burying them in my garden.
Bones just go onto the surface. They can get tilled in next time I till, or dragged off by animals. Whatever.
Like Joseph, I have buried roadkill into my garden areas. Fresh roadkill and fresh slaughter waste goes into the cooker to feed the chickens and pigs. Rank meat waste, including hides, go either into a hot compost pile or get buried directly into the garden soil. I've buried plenty of roadkill, and I've gotten some really strange looks when I pick them up. In fact, I've got numerous humorous stories about picking up roadkill. I guess I'm a source of quizzical amusement for the community around here. But lately I've noticed that I have competition for the roadkill. I guess at least one other gardener has taken to collecting roadkill too.
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I bury mine under my fruit trees, so I don't have to worry about any pathogens in my produce (I'm assuming that might be a problem, but I honestly don't know). I bury mine a little over a shovel-head deep, and near the canopy line. I find my trees really seem to benefit from this, especially my mulberries. While the hole is open, I often take advantage of the loose dirt and throw in some perennial "guild" plants, like raspberries, strawberries or chives or hostas.
I've got five dogs that kill small animals (gophers, moles, voles, rats, rabbits, feral cats, possums, armadillos, small racoons) and drag them back to the yard. Or they bring back road kill critters. But they are all fat overfed beasts and they rarely eat their trophies. It creates a disposal issue.
Easiest (least work) scheme I have come up with is a collection of what I call "rat digesters" in my food forest. Basically this is PVC pipe in various sizes (four inches and up) about six to eight feet long, buried a couple feet in the ground on end. (These are all scrap pieces I got for next to nothing at garage sales.)
As soon as my beasts abandon their trophies I pick them up with a shovel and drop them into the nearest digester. Boom, problem solved. The nutrients eventually find their way to the roots of my trees. The smell (if any) gets whipped away by the wind at head height. Flies? They do buzz in and out of the pipes. Once or twice I've had maggots come crawling up out of the pipes; the local birds were very pleased.
I could easily put one of these in my garden. Other people who have done this use a lid, to control flies and odor. I haven't found it needful. What's attractive about it is the total lack of effort or digging. Just walk over to the nearest digester with your offending dead thing on a shovel and dump it in.
If the meat is good enough for a pig that I am going to personally put in my body, it is good/safe enough for semi-feral cat.
But I understand that alot of people treat their cats and dogs differently.
I don't think that the defrosted meat is any worst than humanure, so bury with some sawdust and you will be 150% fine. The more sawdust/woodchip/carbon the less problems.
Now when it comes to it attracting, flies/bears/raccoon/vultures/rats/etc in a more natural system (Woodlot) that is exactly what would get the job done. I am not too sure how much of nature you want on your property.
You could also give it to the nextdoor pig and then ask for 7x the weight back manure. And if you will shovel it out yourself, I think your neighbor will say take as much as you want, take 1000x, take it all, less work for me.
I have a large incubator and any eggs/chicks, as well as all shells get buried in the garden about a foot deep. Earthworms will eventually bring it to the surface for the plants.
Many people marvel at my gardening results and that is one of my secrets.
"may your experience be fruit for all those who follow"
I do pretty much exactly like Wayne. As long as you have a large carbon sink, the fungi will deal with it. The reason to have a large carbon sink is not solely to get a 10/1 ratio, its fluffy enough that nothing gets anaerobic, which means no stench, which generally means no possums and things that would eat my chickens.
Then after a while I let the chickens on the wood chip pile and they SHRED it, because there are yummy larvae in there. Larvae are laid places they can easily get fat and protein. This then is my potting soil.
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