Composting cat litter can help keep it out of your garbage while turning the waste into something beneficial for your garden. Composting litter though is not as simple as composting food scraps and there are special risks you need to understand. However, done right it is easy and safe to compost cat litter.
The number of dogs and cats in North America has skyrocketed and pet waste is becoming a huge problem. Can you compost dog poop?
In an urban area, leaving it where the animal dropped it is not a good idea. Collecting it and putting it in the trash bin has its own problems as you will see below. That only leaves composting, but there are also warnings about composting pet waste. Is composting really a problem? Is there a safe way to compost it? As a gardener it seems like a real waste not to use dog poop in the garden.
Vermicomposting is a popular way of getting rid of kitchen scraps and proponents of this form of composting make all kinds of claims. Does vermicomposting really work? Does it produce a superior compost when compared to traditional bin composting or Bokashi? What do the worms actually produce and how does it compare to traditional compost?
This post will have a close look at vermicomposting and compare it to bin composting.
Composting ratios are confusing and in this post we’ll simplify them and show you which ratio you should be using. Once you understand the ratio and the importance of browns and greens you will have no trouble making fast superior compost.
Is urine in the garden a match made in heaven or hell on earth?
Human urine is not commonly used as a fertilizer but we do use animal urine when it’s mixed with manure. Many gardeners have no issue with its use this way, but few would use human urine even if it is clean and free of feces. Is this just due to social attitudes or are there some a good reasons for not using urine. Is it safe? Will it burn plants? Can it spread human pathogens and what about all the drugs we use? Those can’t be good for plants?
Let’s have a wee look at using urine in the garden.
The Lomi electronic composter by Pela is one of the more popular kitchen units offered today. They have great marketing that promotes the the machines benefits. It is good for the environment, it produces “strong” fertilizer, it reduces the amount of kitchen waste and it even composts some types of compostable plastic.
This post will look at some of these claims to see if they are true.
Gardeners have been making and using compost for hundreds of years and we talk a lot about “finished compost”, but what is it? When is compost really finished?
You can make so-called finished compost using a hot compost pile in a few months, but compost continues to decompose for many years. If it is not fully composted when it comes out of the compost pile is it really finished?
When I first asked this question I thought is was a simple one with a simple answer, but even science struggles to define finished compost.
Compost sounds like such a great thing but it can make you sick. The chance of this happening is very small, but it is possible and people have died from it.
The first thing to be concerned about is the dust. Small dust particles can coat your lungs and cause breathing issues. This is a bigger concern with dry compost so it is a good idea to wet it down before you use it. It is also a good idea to wear a respirator.
There are also a number of diseases that you can catch from compost. The best way to protect yourself is with masks and gloves.
It is important to put these diseases into perspective – they are all extremely rare. I do get a regular tetanus shot and I do wear gloves to prevent infection on my hands. I don’t wear a respirator nor do I worry about getting sick from compost. However, it is important to know the symptoms in case you do get sick.
I have been following Bokashi composting for a number of years and never really understood what happens during the fermentation process. Ask people what bokashi is and they reply with, it’s fermentation. Ok, what is fermentation? Few can take the discussion further especially on a chemical and cellular basis. Even dedicated Bokashi groups on Facebook don’t understand what actually happens during the process.
I have been looking at some other forms of fermentation including ensilaging and eco-enzymes, and the picture of what they are is starting to become clearer.
I became aware of the first electric composter a couple of years ago and now there are at least a dozen brands on the market. They are promoted as an eco-friendly way to deal with food scraps. Just put your waste in the device and it will compost the material in a few hours. The material is reduced in volume by 90% and is a perfect fertilizer for your houseplants and garden.
The first one I saw was a larger floor model that required the addition of coir, and some models suggest the addition of microbes to help with the composting process. Newer models are smaller in size and don’t require the addition of coir or microbes.
Right from the moment that I saw the first unit, I questioned the “composting” aspect. How can they compost so quickly when composting is a very slow process? My myth busting antennae went up.
One of the most hotly debated questions in vermicomposting is this, is vermicompost leachate good or bad for plants? Some say it is great for plants and use it all of the time. Others warn that it should not be used because it contains phytotoxins (plant poisons) and pathogens.
What I find most interesting about this debate is that both sides claim to be correct and yet neither side takes the time to do a search for some scientific evidence to support their position. I guess I approach things differently and the science in this case is easy to find – one Google Scholar search will do it.
Let’s look at the facts surrounding vermicompost leachate.
There is a lot of discussion about bokashi, EM (Effective Microorganisms) and Eco-enzyme. When I read the material on these it seems as if there is a lot of overlap between these three topics and at times they even seem to be the same thing. I thought it would be useful to clarify what they are and differentiate between them.
Eco-enzyme are even available as commercial products in Asia.