27 February 2009

Independent verification! ... almost

I love CleanAirGardening. The whole idea behind it -- a guy too cheap to buy a gas mower finding his eureka with a push reel mower -- tickles me. (I was inspired and now am the proud owner of a Scotts push reel mower, although sometimes I run out of inspiration to mow by July and Pete claims it doesn't really cut the lawn anyway.)

Now I'm perusing the wonderful website this morning and what do I find in the worm bin entry? Independent verification that vermicomposters can handle pet poop. Whew. The Book doesn't discuss much beyond cat and dog waste, but CleanAirGardening has a whole discussion about what can and can't be handled. Yahoo! [in a non-trademarked, completely spontaneous use of the word]

From CleanAirGardening, in the [Can-O-Worms] round composter description:
Can this bin handle Pet Droppings? Yes - worms will eat pet poop if there is no other food available. If you want to compost pet waste, you should not put any food scraps in the bin along with the droppings. When composting pet poop, you'll need a dedicated worm bin that contains only poo. The worms will avoid the pet waste if another food source is available, and the waste is likely to contain pathogens that can pose a health risk over time.

Some pet droppings should never be composted. These include kitty litter, pig waste, and bird droppings. Kitty litter is not biodegradable and can kill compost worms. The other types of waste are too likely to contain pathogens and are not worth the risk to compost.

Worms make short work of dog droppings, but they can also handle ferret and cat droppings if the waste is not mixed with gravel. Other animal waste that can be composted includes droppings from rabbits, hedgehogs, prairie dogs, chinchillas, and a few other pets. Animal waste from pure herbivores doesn't require a pet waste composter though - this waste is pathogen free and can be used as an activator for compost piles or compost bins.
Now, cavy droppings are not specifically mentioned, but if rabbit poop is a viable compost component, then the cavy waste should be as well -- they eat very similar food, they're both herbivores, the resultant waste is really small (and really numerous).

Basically, what I get from Lar's description (he's the guy who was too cheap to buy a gas mower), is that I can either put the used bedding/poop from the cages into the vermicomposter as the brown material (OK, pun intended). Or I can put it into my bin outside -- which I also do.

Whew. I actually used the used bedding/poop directly in my garden, using the material as the bottom level of "soil" in the raised beds I built last year. The vegetables and companion plants grew gangbusters.

Another reason to love CleanAirGardening -- it's enabling my reuse of cavy poop.


Tish said...

So we can deposit all our dog-do in a compost bin and it won't be all nasty and stinky?!!!!

JenGreen said...

Um, if the pet is a carnivore, then I think you need to compost it separately. As in, I won't be composting our waste in the bins. We being carnivores.