Dog Manure… what is it good for?

As you may know, I have two dogs… a Dalmatian and an Irish Wolfhound.  These are not small dogs and they do make a mess in the backyard.  Ensuring that the yard is free of their poo is a chore and when I am finished I end up with a bag of dog poo.  What do I do with this?

Something I am learning from Permaculture is the concept of turning a negative into a positive… to that end I have been working on a little side project for the last couple of weeks and it involves dog poo.  I read that dog manure can be converted into a safe and highly productive manure if you treat it correctly.  In short, dog poo may contain a large number of pathogens (such as roundworm) which could be harmful to humans… yet, if it is treated correcting, the manure becomes safe for use.

I have had a spare plastic bin in my car port for several years.  It contained the mat from our old trampoline as well as the springs.  Since we moved from Collinsvale we bought a new trampoline (for some reason I don’t recall).  So this one has been sitting around.  I wanted to use the mat as a cover for my garden beds, so they could over winter without accumulating weeds.  When the bin was empty I decided that it could be used to store the dog manure… as I didn’t have any other use for it.

The one problem with collecting dog manure is the smell.  Storing 30 kgs of dog poo is bound to smell bad.  I have gotten around this by using carbon… in the form of shredded paper.  I have added one part dog poo and two parts shredded paper to the bin.  This helps to break down the manure and also removes 99% of the odor.  The contents are mixed weekly (when I do the weekly clean up of the garden) to ensure they are all covered in paper.  While many people recommend allowing the compost to sit for 6 weeks, I believe that is not long enough.  I will be allowing this bin to sit for 12 months, once it is filled, before I start to use it.

I am not 100% sure I will be using this on my food garden.  I will have to research more before I am satisfied that the pathogens in the manure are all deceased.  I should be very safe using this on the ornamental parts of the garden, such as the roses or the non-fruiting  trees which we have on the property.  The good thing about this is that I don’t have to decide now… I have over 12 months to make my mind up on my decision.

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