Don’t hold this against me, but I love picking up dog poop. I know, GROSS! But I get a deep sense of satisfaction from knowing my yard is dog waste free. But, I hate sending it off to the landfill with the rest of the garbage that I can’t recycle, and it stinks up my outdoor trash can like nothing else.
My Bloodhound-Rottweiler mix Juno is a very private pooper and prefers a shady corner of the backyard to do her business. But my Redone Coonhound Cliff will indiscriminately poop wherever the urge strikes him, creating land mines everywhere. By now you’re probably thinking, TMI about your cleaning proclivities and your dogs’ pooping preferences, but stay with me.
Because I don’t mind cleaning up after my dogs and try to do it daily when I can, I cut down on the land mine factor. But I needed to ease my guilty conscience about sending it off on weekly trash day for the someone else to deal with.
To Chem or Not to Chem?
“NOT!” I say with conviction. But let’s be honest, dog poop is nasty stuff! It won’t enrich your garden soil and picking it out of the treads of your shoes after you’ve discovered that you’ve tracked it into the house is just gross! Could a dog poop composter free of chemicals really work?
I had seen DIY dog poop composters on Pinterest, but they called for Rid-X. I knew Rid-X was a chemical septic system additive, but that’s all I knew, so I did a bit of Googling. In a nutshell, Rid-X is a chemical-based product that is flushed down your toilets on a regular basis to maintain the proper amount of bacteria in your septic system so that it functions as it should, or to use to avoid costly septic system pumping when it’s not functioning as it should. There’s a lot of online debate about whether it’s really necessary, effective or safe. So, I kept Googling and reading.
Then, I stumbled upon this at SepticSystem.com: “The Washington State Legislature stated in 1993 that ‘most additives do not have a positive effect on the operation of on-site systems, and can contaminate groundwater aquifers, render septic drainfields dysfunctional, and result in costly repairs to homeowners.’ In 1994, the legislature added, ‘Chemical additives do, and other types may, contribute to septic system failure and groundwater contamination.'” That was all I needed to hear, especially since I live in Washington State (online source).
So I built the DIY dog poop composter detailed here and decided NOT to add any chemicals to it. Instead, Trevor’s daughter Olivia and I turned over every rock in my backyard, harvested as many worms as we could find and seeded my composter with them.
At first, the poop in my composter grew a thick, cottony layer of mold. Ugh! Was this REALLY going to work? Then, the weather started to heat up and summertime busy-ness set in. I’m embarrassed to say that I was not picking up my dog’s poop as regularly as usual. I finally canvassed my yard for poop, collected way more than I’d like to admit and popped open the lid of my composter with trepidation. To my delight, the mold was GONE! Better yet, the poop was drying out and settling, and the icky stuff was slowly draining into the soil in my side yard, a location that is farthest from where I plan to grow produce and next to the neighbor’s side yard that they only use as a walkway to their backyard.
I feel confident enough to call this little project a success.
Let me know if you try it too!