Ways of disposing of your dog's business without using plastic bags.
Every day is a learning day, they say, and today I read an interesting article about dog poo... Hey, don't judge me; it's been a long lockdown! Specifically, I've learned about dog poo wormeries - an environmentally-friendly method of disposing of doggy doo in your garden.
Essentially, they work like normal wormeries where garden and food waste is broken down by worms munching on the mess and processing it into a nutrient-rich compost to be used on your garden. A beautiful circular process. But you can't use dog poo compost on your tomato plants, due to nasty parasites and bacteria, so you need a separate system, buried in the corner of your garden.
HOW DO THEY WORK?
In her handy post on the subject, green-living blogger, Lindsay Miles, built her own wormery by cutting the bottom out of a bucket and sinking it into a hole in the ground up to its lid. Then handfuls of dirt containing composting worms goes in, and then you add your dog's contribution as and when is necessary. She advises to add some form of carbon matter, be it paper or cardboard or dead leaves from the garden. This helps the process. The worms chow down on their fetid feast and eventually turn it all into a compost. Sounds simple, but the worm bucket system can fill up before it's all fully composted and would require moving the bucket to another spot or digging a deep hole underneath. This sounds messy and not much fun. So, what other options are there for clearing up after Fido's decorated the garden?
See how to make a dog-poo wormery here, at Treading My Own Path.
The 'Doggie Dooley' In-Ground Waste Disposal System
I was intrigued by this, but after reading all the comments, it's essentially a fancy version of the home-made bucket system - a container with a hole in the bottom and a lid on the top. The most important aspect of the system is the much deeper hole you have to dig to sit it on, which is where all the mucky magic happens.
The Doggie Dooley is really just a foot-operated lid to access the hole and keep the garden tidy. However, many seem quite happy with that, and most complaints are about the work involved in digging a 5-foot deep, but narrow hole. But the deeper the hole the better and less-smelly the system will be.
The magic isn't performed by worms however, but rather the Doggie Dooley Waste Terminator Digester Powder, which you drop down the hole, with a bit of water. This is a mix of bacteria and enzymes that do the work of the worms. The waste is turned into a liquid soup rather than a compost.
This tub will provide a year's worth of digesting, and you get a smaller starter pack with the Doggie Dooley system.
The same company also offer a galvanized steel version, for around the same price. Again, the comments suggest that you need to dig a narrow but very deep hole, which is no mean feat. Too shallow and it'll fill up before it digests and breaks down, meaning you'll have a deep hole full of poo that you can't use until it's all broken down. And that process tends to stop in the winter.
Personally, I think it's probably worth the effort if you do it properly and if you have one dog or a couple of small dogs. But you might want to find another solution if you have a brace of Beagles or a pack of Huskies, otherwise you'll need to dig down to the earth's core to ensure it doesn't over-fill!
For me, the jury's out. The reviews are so mixed. I can't think how you'd dig a 5ft deep hole that's as a narrow as a waste pipe without specialized kit. But as it's a long term solution, perhaps it's worth the effort.
The home-made wormery bucket option seems the simplest, but I'd aim for the biggest bucket and hole you can make. Worms are going to be cheaper than digester powder.
And as there are no other obvious options around, it's clearly not a huge market due to the effort involved. So in the meantime, perhaps using poo bags that can degrade in 90 days in garden compost is more preferable solution. These 100% non-plastic, vegetable-based bags meet European and Australian composting standards and come in a 16-roll value pack of totalling 240 bags.
In the meantime, you could always teach your dog to use the bathroom...