Monday, 16 November 2009

should we compost dog poo?

Browsing Slavenka's blog today, I followed a link to a discussion of the use of human urine in gardens. I was fascinated, because I'm trying to follow the principles of sustainable gardening in my care of our land. (We haven't started using our own wee on the garden yet!)

The discussion mentioned that human urine helps dog poo to break down. Hmm... that got me thinking about the pros and cons of burying dog poo.

I bought a product at a garden centre a few months ago, a powder that supposedly helps dog poo break down into a harmless compost. I forget what the product was called, but I'm fairly sure it's the same as we use in our Bokashi composting system. So I've been digging a hole and shovelling Penny's 'doing' into it - never near any place we grow food.

But I recently read a book called 'Soil Food - 3,764 ways to feed your garden'. It's by Jackie French, and although she provides this huge number of ways to enrich your soil, she draws the line at dog poo, because dogs have lived with us for so long that we share similar diseases.

So now I'm back to putting the poo in plastic bags, to be buried in landfill. As this article at the BBC points out, that means the goodness in the dog faeces will be unavailable for as long as the plastic takes to decompose.

The site has lots of ideas for dealing with this issue. And it confirms something I've always suspected - walking uses certain muscles that stimulate the dog to defecate!


Master Teal'c said...

From Tealc's human:
I have been thinking about that for quite a while now... I never use plastic bags for shopping, fruits or anything else but I throw 3 bags of dog-poo in the bin every day, in plastic bags. So as you wrote - I put something natural in a plastic bag. STUPID! And even the ECO ones don't compose completely. Tiny parts go into the ground, our water, the fish we eat... Using paper bags?! Great but producing them takes more energy then producing plastic bags...
If I had a big garden I would put it in the compost. On the other hand - Teal'c does not use the yard as a toilet at all. So I would have to walk my dog and the poo... I'm working on a solution :) If I have a bright idea I'll let you know.
Cheers and slobbers from Teal'c for Penny

parlance said...

Teal'c, tell your human I agree. It seems a pity to waste this resource. But I'm not yet convinced it's safe to put it in the garden. It'll be great if someone works it out. I read somewhere recently that germs or diseases can stay in the ground for thirty years - I think that was in relation to human waste, but I can't quite remember.

Johann The Dog said...

Here are ideas for composting dog poo...that I put together:

Currently we flush...but want to do the worm poo when we move to a warmer climate.

Gussie said...

The composting idea is interesting. Should be the same principle as composting toilets, I'd have thought.

We use biodegradable poo bags or nappy bags. I experimented with a paper fortune teller made out of newspaper but got dirty hands one time too many. I'm seriously thinking about investing in the charmingly named

parlance said...

Johann, thanks for the link. It's a while since I've been over to read your range of squidoos, so I'll have a look when I've responded to my comments.

It surely must be better to use the poo than to throw it out in plastic bags.

parlance said...

Gussie, I bought a roll of biodegradable poo bags, but I've just thrown them out, because they are degrading too quickly, and the whole roll got sort of glued together.

I think you're right that the principle of the composting toilet is the way to go. If there are organisms that can break down the horrible things in human faeces, then they should deal well with canine poo.