The elegant union of ornamental and productive.

Pets and their poo


A question has been on my mind.

There is a poo on the lawn, or in the mulch under a tree… what do you do with it?

Forget about it? Pour bleach on it?

Pets excrements can carry parasites that can  affect humans and when the garden is involved, they should be dealt with quite seriously. (Cat’s are in my mind more keen to pass maladies to people the dogs are, probably because I prefer dogs.)

I am not trying to scare anyone, the risks are statistically minimal, but yet, establishing a procedure for your pets presents is often part of our designs.

There are more than one options:

One option to is to “cook”  the poo in a HOT COMPOST! This is the safest option and it is the option Joseph Jenkins ( considers the safest to turn excrements into compost. There are millions of pages written on hot compost, and as many ways to create a hot compost as there are ways to skin a cat. We will discuss this topic in a further post. In a few words, a hot compost is obtained by composting a high volume of materials, maintaining the right moisture level and the right carbon/nitrogen ratio. The heat generated by the composting process allows for certain bacteria, called termophillic bacteria, to increase the copost’s temperature enough so that all parasites, worms or non termophillic bacteria get killed. Sounds good? But the main issue with the hot compost pile, is that about a cubic meter is needed to reach the point where the metabolic activity of these billions of bacteria will create enough heat to kill the “bad guys”!

If you don’t happen to have the luxury of a pile of steamy compost in your backyard, or the time to manage this process closely, there is a shortcut. The poo can be stored in a black bucket until it is full. Saw dust or newspaper can be added each time to neutralize smells. When the bucket is full, one simply leaves it in the sun for many months. Eventually the heat will be high enough to eliminate the “bad guys”. Some friends of ours have been experimenting with this technique, and had the resulting compost tested. Their compost was so clean they could have had it on toast quite safely!

This is the way to go if you want to use your compost on produce you will eat raw. The procedure is much simpler if the animal is encouraged to do its private business under fruit trees, where nothing else is growing on the ground that you might eat raw. I call this technique the living litter. A section of the orchard or yard can be selected for this function and be quite inconspicuous. A nice fine wood mulch needs to be spread thickly, and new presents covered with a bit more mulch regularly. This offering by your little hairy pet will quickly be turned to soil and its nutrients will feed the tree. It is just like a normal litter, except you do not need to throw it out or buy new one! It is interesting to see how many worms and invertebrates lurk under the mulch ready to receive their next meal!

Not all trees will enjoy this heavy feed. A few good ones for this task are: Banana, citrus and passion fruit.

Ok, enough talking about poo! Its soon dinner time…

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