Greening Up: Building Your Own Dog Waste Composter

This has been on our radar for a while, and when it was suggested as part of our Healthy Homes program we figured it was time to actually do it. The arrival of our new garbage bin from the city meant that we had a spare garbage can, Jonny got some leftover gravel and we were ready to go. With all the rain we haven’t felt like digging in the yard but now that the sun is shining it was the perfect time to get this project out of the way.

This page from City Farmer has straight forward instructions on how to build a “pet waste composter” and all the tools you need are a shovel, an electric drill and a little energy. While I was working yesterday Jonny dug a 3′ deep hole along our west hedges out of sight of most of the yard but close enough that we’ll use it.

Today Jonny cut the bottom off our old garbage can and we drilled a bunch of holes around the sides. Our recommendation for this step is to drill the holes and then take off the bottom – it would have been must easier!

Then we placed the now perforated garbage can into the hole and packed the dirt back around it so it was snug. Our compost hole is much deeper than the can, but we were hoping to get below the frost line so that it works more of the year. The can will stop any sluffing at the top and allows us to still put a tight-fitting lid on it. We filled the hole with a little water and our soil drains pretty slowly so a deeper hole is probably a good thing with a cat and a dog.

After we had the can in place we poured in a pail full of gravel, and then dropped in a few bags of dog waste. Once we get it going we’ll also be able to add cat waste – we use Swheat Scoop so it will compost – and cut down on what has to go into the garbage. We need to find a truly compostable doggie  bag so that we don’t have to open them up after every walk.

After we had added the waste, I sprinkled in one package of Septo-bac (which I was able to purchase at our local grocery store) and added some water. According to the article we’re supposed to wait 48 hours before we add anything else, and then we can add “stuff” daily. We’ll need to add more Septo-bac now and again just to keep things going.

I put the garbage can lid on it, but I’d like to build a little box around it to make sure the lid doesn’t get knocked off. I don’t want of find anything stuck in our compost that shouldn’t be there! It’s not the most beautiful sight but we’ll work on prettying it up once we know it’s working.

I’m sure Patches and Donnelly will both feel better now that they know they’re doing their part to reduce!

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