I’m grateful that my two dogs are only little Westies but they still manage to produce a lot of poo. I can’t bring myself to wrap it in plastic and put it in the bin so have been digging holes and burying it. We have very little flat ground and the “soil” is clay and shale in most places so digging big holes is very difficult. I’ve decided to have a go at making my own composter since the commercial versions, I think, are very expensive. I’ve searched online and lots of people seem to have success with home made composters so I’ll see how it goes.
It’s now about 8 months since I took the first photos and the mix seemed to be getting a bit high so with trepidation I did some digging around in it. I’ve been watering the bin to keep the mix palatable for worms but the side effect of that is roots have now invaded the bin. Today I decided to slide a spade around the edge of the bin to sever the roots then I decided to empty out some mix. I left the lid off for about an hour so that any worms would make their way down through the soil.
When I came back I was delighted to find that the mix had a nice fine crumbly texture with no hint of smell. Because I know what the mixture is made from I can’t bring myself to handle it but it looks just like compost from a commercial bag without the smelly lumps I’ve come across in them before.
I won’t be putting the compost on any fruit trees or vegies, there is plenty of dirt around my place desperate for a bit of humus. This is the first time I’ve managed to fully compost dog poo and I’ll continue with the bin as it is. I don’t know if the roots will become a big problem but will just have to wait and see, for the moment I’m very pleased.
We’ve been away on holiday for 5 weeks so nothing has been added to the composter in that time. I decided to empty it out again and there were more roots invading the bin but there were also thousands of worms. I used part of an old worm farm to try and separate the worms from the compost. The compost is just going on my flower beds and any worms that are in that should be comfortable in the garden though it’s not as moist.
As an experiment I think this has worked wonderfully.
A few of the worms.
Piling up the compost should encourage the worms to go down lower and into the bottom tray.
Part of an old worm farm sitting on a big lid.
The undisturbed mix in the compost bin.
Our land is mostly sloping with clay “soil” and big Gum Trees dominate so keeping garden beds adequately watered throughout Summer is impossible without using a lot of water. We soon use up all the water in the rainwater tanks, mains water is costly and in our state needs to be conserved as much as possible but I want to grow fruit and vegetables. I have been successful using wine barrels but water is wasted through evaporation and runoff so I’m trying some “wicking beds”. (More basinettes than beds) Last year I used half a plastic barrel and put sand in the reservoir section but it is so heavy I can never move it so this year I’m trying a light-weight option. I hope the Slideshow will show clearly how I’m doing it.
I’m using foam Broccoli boxes which I’m able to get free from a local Greengrocer. I have seen bigger foam boxes which might be from Fish Markets but I’m not sure. They need to be boxes with no holes in them. The viewing tube is made from a 13mm irrigation pipe elbow and some plastic tubing.
I’ve learnt a lot already.
The plastic tubing comes in a roll so is curved, I was too impatient to leave the tubing in the sun to soften and straighten so I used the microwave method. I put a little water inside the tubing then put it in the microwave, I watched it and when I saw it was straight I took it out. You need to be very careful because the water in the tubing boils and the tube is straight so the boiling water can easily spill onto your hand. I run cold water straight through it to cool it & set the shape.
Although it was fiddly fitting the “viewing tube” and making sure it didn’t leak I like it because I can see at a glance how much water is in the box. Apparently it’s a good idea to let the water level go right down before refilling otherwise the water goes smelly.
I found that it was more practical if the filling pipe and viewing tube were on the same end.
To prevent mosquitos, spiders and lizards getting into the filling pipe I cover it. The mosquitos and spiders are able to get out but the lizards can’t. If you can’t find a suitable lid put a stick down into the filling pipe. Lizards will be able to climb up the stick, hopefully after they’ve eaten all the mozzies.
A few weeks ago I had just planted some Spring Onion seeds in a wicking box when we had a record number of days over 40 deg. The nights didn’t cool down much and I just stayed inside wishing the heat wave would end. I was absolutely delighted to see tiny little Spring Onion seedlings when I did eventually get back out into the garden so the wicking action must be working. I know some people advocate just putting gravel in the base but I can’t understand how the water can make its way up to the potting mix if it’s not in physical contact so I prefer to use the wicking strips.
There is a lot of information online about Wicking Beds, the site I like best is Scarecrows Garden, it has much more information than I’ve given here.