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Composting Next Level: The Dog Doo

As I mentioned in my last post about composting, our 'final frontier' composting goal would be with our dog's bizness. You see, it's not that dog poop doesn't compost, it's just that they don't recommend it go into backyard bins because it rarely gets hot enough to kill stuff that could affect your edibles if sprinkled nearby. But it CAN be composted - just separately and in another area!

After researching a million different options online, from a variety of DIYs to the expensive Doggie Dooley (the latter which doesn't work in winter AND requires a - get this - 4' hole be seriously, how many of us dig anything that deep...or have soil that would easily allow this?), we've come up with one we've started to try out, based on posts I found on Instructables and GardeningKnowHow - and totally free.

  1. Grab an old bucket with a lid. Check! My husband's grocery co-op employer had 5 gallon food-grade buckets (they used to contain honey) available to snag...and no, the irony of using a Honey Bucket hasn't escaped me. Now, I do NOT like the idea of burying plastic in the ground, so we're considering this one temporary until we find a non-plastic version. But I will say? Compared to all the plastic used to pick up dog poop that then goes into the landfill, never to degrade (and keeping the millions of pounds of dog waste from degrading as well since landfills are anaerobic)? This is a massive downsizing in plastic for us.

  2. Cut out base & drill drainage holes in bucket. Check! (Kudos to the husband for doing this after I threw out my back this past weekend, ugh...) See photos below for the super easy basic vibe of creating this bucket.

  3. Bury bucket in sunny spot in the yard, away from edibles with good drainage. (Check! We've got a section in the back corner of our garden near the clerodendrum that'll work just great throughout all four seasons to ensure the sun keeps it warm and therefore composting beautifully.)

  4. Add the poop and some DIY septic starter (a mixture of yeast, cornmeal & powdered sugar) or, alternately, a shovelful of sawdust (a 2:1 poop-to-dust ratio). Once we get past this weekend's deep freeze, we're on it!

From everything I've read, it actually composts pretty darn fast, so I'll report back to let you know if we end up needing a larger bin. When we were on the farm, we never had to worry about 'pickup' with our dogs because they always did their business out in the big pasture, far from the soles of our shoes, so with a 90 lb dog now, it's always super obvious each morning when I go out to let the ducks out that I also need to clean up after you-know-who. Looking big-picture, however, we also remember that he is 13 or so years old and in the sunset of his life, so no matter how morbid that might sound, we're not going to plan for a larger scale operation, since after he's gone our plan is to take some time off from dog ownership so that we can travel more easily. But in the meantime, we'll learn if this works as well as we are hoping, and decrease our impact on the planet even more.

"The organic gardener does not think of throwing away the garbage. She knows that she needs the garbage. She is capable of transforming the garbage into compost, so that the compost can turn into lettuce, cucumber, radishes, and flowers again...With the energy of mindfulness, you can look into the garbage and say: I am not afraid. I am capable of transforming the garbage back into love." ~ Nhat Hanh

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