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stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Dog poo/poop composting the easy way

Inca and dog statue

Inca and dog statue

I’m switching my worm composter from dog poo to food scraps. I was pleased with it at first, but the worms just couldn’t keep up with the amount of poo that the Min Pins generate. Perhaps I needed more worms or a bigger unit?

To be quite honest with you the sight of the worms digesting dog poop is not a pretty one. I know that some people toss dog poo onto their compost heap but this is not a great idea as it contains many harmful pathogens. Not quite as bad as cat poo but still bad enough to halt simple healthy composting in its tracks.

The compost generated by a dog poop cannot be used on edible plants. That’s fine as we have huge herbaceous borders that can benefit. But I think that I’ve discovered a better and cheaper way to turn dog poop into a rich compost.

A recent issue of Kitchen Garden magazine had a fascinating article written by a reader who composts her own effluent. She has a bucket with a seat in her bathroom and a bucket filled with sawmill wood dust. She uses the latter to cover and smother the smell. When the bucket is full the contents are transferred to an outdoor wooden compost bin, lined with straw. Each bucket load is covered with straw and when the compost bin is full it is left for a year before being spread in her herbaceous borders. According to this lady, there is no smell, not even a whiff of a pong. She produces her own rich compost, without having to invest a penny.

I got very excited about this idea. Danny looked quite pale.
“Are you going to try this yourself?”
Our bathroom is very small. Having to negotiate two extra buckets could be a bit of a problem.
“Well sort of. I’m going to adapt this for the dog poo.”

We have quite a few plastic bins knocking about in the barn. The chickens are on wood shavings in their house – so we have those to hand. I’ve got two pallets that can be turned into a pair of composters. I also have a space for the bins – hidden behind a large shrub in a shady part of the garden.

I’ve been doing the first bin bit for a few days now. There is no smell. The plastic bin does have a cover to deter bluebottles and flies.

The worms are now feasting on tea bags and bread with a little poo for old times sake. The latter will be gradually reduced and supplemented with the normal diet for worm farms.

“And what exactly is on the menu for our worms.”
Danny was intrigued.
“Fruit, vegetables, cardboard, cereals, teabags. The contents of the vacuum cleaner bag.”
“Delicious – the last one sounds particularly appetising. Maybe in pancakes with rocket leaves?”

It’s best to cut the food into scraps rather than lob in the occasional unwanted egg sandwich.  It is fine dining for worms after all.


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8 Comments

  1. Michelle from Oregon

    I’m a little curious Fiona.
    If you decide to use the dog poo compost on an area, and later decide you want to plant eddibles there instead of just herbaceous, how long would it take to transition back, or can you transtion back?

  2. Kooky Girl

    Yuk! You never fail to amaze me Fiona. It sounds revolting, but hey, it’s only natural isn’t it That said, can you write about lovely food next time purleassssse… :o)

  3. Rachael-Anne Knight

    I’m fascinated by this discussion. We have several of our own dogs and foster too so have a lot of dog poo to contend with. I’ve toyed with the idea of composting, but have never been convinced the worms could keep up with the waste from 3 or 4 large dogs. Currently we are picking up in nappy sacks and transporting that to the poo bin every week, which is not ideal. Looking forward to hearing how this new idea works out!

  4. Juanita

    œDelicious “ the last one sounds particularly appetising. Maybe in pancakes with rocket leaves?

    Lol 🙂 How funny!

    I must say, I would have gone quite pale too on hearing the story of the lady composting her own faeces, and thinking that’s what’s in store for your own bathroom.
    So glad your take on it is a lot less cringey and oh-so-useful as well!

  5. I built a green dog loo, as described by Diana, out of a plastic dustbin found in a skip and using instructions found on the internet. There is no smell, but it can’t keep up with the poo from two lurchers. I started off using septic tank starter, as instructed, and then switched to using the ‘juice’ from my bokashi bin. The change in liquid didn’t seem to make any difference in the rate of decomposion (or not…)
    It’s still full a year later and I’ve resorted to flushing what I pick up down the loo.
    I’ve read mixed reports on whether this is good or not, but the alternative is putting it in plastic bags in the landfill bin, which I really don’t want to do.
    The trouble I have is that in a small garden, we have no single bed without edibles in it. I suppose I could offer the compost on freecycle, but the explanations could get interesting. Short of guerilla compost dumping, I’m not sure what I could do with the end result if I composted it instead?
    Any ideas gratefully received!

  6. We have a sawdust filled bucket for a loo out on our land as there is nowhere to put a toilet, so far it seems to be working without any odours but then again I did start it over the winter.

  7. Have you thought of using a green dog loo which as I understand it is a sort of bucket with an open lattice bottom which you bury in the soil and allow the resident soil bacteria to demolish the dog poo.

  8. On probably the best day of this year so far ( we sold our house today so are only weeks away from life on the fens and my own chickens) I have ended the evening reading about dog poo ( dog poo dog poo lully lully dog poo, the chant from drop dead fred is now bouncing round my brain).. but can’t help but recall the episode of the good life where they build a generator to run off pig poo..
    I have to say I do feel sorry for the worms, and am glad they are going to relish in, shall we say, a less rich diet in the future.
    I marvel at the lady with her wood shavings and poo buckets, and can’t help but wondering if she ever entertained, and the topic of her after dinner conversations?
    Where we are moving hasn’t got mains drains and I have already had long and cringing explainations of how you have to ‘chuck any road kill into the cess pit to keep the bacteria up’ :S I think I’ll be watching tv or reading a book that afternoon.

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