Today I’m going to talk about composting dog poop; I know it isn’t the greatest subject of discussion but here at Misfit Gardening it is an important one, especially when I have three dogs and a lot of poop to scoop.
In England, dog poo wormeries are nothing new; back in 2011 they debuted a dog poop wormery composting system at Crufts. You can check out the article here: No worming out of dog waste disposal at dfs Crufts.
Worm composting can be conducted throughout the year and can take around 90 days or less to produce compost. It is virtually odorless which is why I’m trying it out for the dog poop however, I have seen many pictures of wormeries inside the house and even in a closet for the usual kitchen waste composting.
How do dog poo wormeries work?
Composting with worms is known as vermicomposting and according to the instruction manual by Nature’s Footprint that came with the wormery; worms produce soil that is 5 times richer in nitrogen, 10 times more potassium and 7 times more phosphate than typical garden soil. Worms turn the food they eat into worm castings.
Some of the foods you can place in a wormery if you are using it for kitchen waste include unsalted nut shells, shredded newspaper, pasta, crushed egg shells and vegetables.
Composting worms go through a miriad of foods from leaves on the ground to kitchen scraps. They will also break down dog poop and turn it into work castings which make a fabulous soil amendment as well as a liquid fertilizer which can be diluted down and used on the garden.
But animal feces contains pathogens I hear you say.
This is true, cat poop especially may contain a strain which is particularly nasty for pregnant women. Composting piles can heat up tremendously if formed properly; you could place everything into the compost heap once the worms have tackled it and/or segregate this to only use it on plants that are not destined for the table.
Light reading on the use of composted pet poop is either all for it or completely against it. For me, I have a lot new gardens to get up and established non-fruiting plants which would heavily benefit from the nutrients provided by vermicompost.
Worm Compost Bin
I ordered worms from Amazon and bought the Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm 1000 Composting Worms. There are lots of different packages available, I went with the “Frequently Bought Together” package when I ordered the Worm Factory 360. If you want to see more about worm availability and pricing take a look here: Composting Worms
The worms arrived alive and wiggling in the mail first, I opened them up and followed the directions to give them water. The worms were packed in dry peat, which was quite disappointing to me since it is a huge carbon sink and a natural resource that is beginning to decline.
The wormery is made of plastic and has a very small footprint making it ideal for small spaces.
I chose the terracotta option to minimize the heat absorption but if you live in colder climates, the black one would help keep the worms warm by absorbing the heat from the sun.
The Worm Factory 360 comes with the following:
four stacking trays
a collection tray for the worm tea that is produced
shredded paper bedding
coir brick (coconut fiber)
pumice to help aerate the system and provide grit
rock dust to provide additional nutrients and grit
worm ladder to help fallen worms climb back up out of the liquid collection
Here are the small accessories in one of the trays:
Here’s the worm tea collection tray which holds around a gallon of liquid:
The system is stackable and can have up to 7 trays with the worms moving up the system tray by tray feeding on the scraps placed in the unit. The vermicompost is collected from the bottom trays and the worm tea is drained off via the spigot. This vertical system maximizes the amount that can be composted in a small footprint.
Worm tea can be diluted down and used as a liquid fertilizer for your plants or added undiluted to the compost heap. The vermicompost can be used as a fertilizer or mulch on beds or around plants. It can even be added to containers and houseplants.
Here is the first tray with kitchen scraps all ready for the worms to be added:
Here are the worms after being added to the tray:
I did wake up to several escapees the following morning. After checking the tray, I discovered that the bedding was not moist enough so more water was added and moist food and the worms stayed put.
A thick layer of moist newspaper covers the scraps added and keeps the environment and food moist for the worms. To add food, lift up the newspaper and add the material with some fibrous material to help stop things from getting overly wet.
Interested in trying out worm composting? You can buy the model I did from Amazon below.