Earlier this week I decided to (finally) put together a little pet waste vermicomposting system – something I’ve been meaning to try out for quite some time now.
In a nutshell, it is basically a bucket (with lid) with holes drilled in the sides, containing worm habitat (with worms of course) + pet waste, which in this case will be cat doo doo. I’d prefer dog poop but don’t happen to have one on hand – and I don’t think I’m quite ready to ask neighbors to donate, since they already must think I’m pretty weird! LOL
The initial “habitat” in this case is shredded drink-tray cardboard and very-well-aged horse manure.
I decided to drill wide-diameter holes (17/64″) for this system so as to make it easier for worms to move in and out, and plant roots to (potentially) invade. I didn’t go too crazy with them, figuring a cluster of them towards the middle-bottom, along with some up near the top (for ventilation) – on all sides – would be more than enough.
***IMPORTANT NOTE***: For this type of (questionable waste material) system, I highly recommend that you DON’T drill holes in the lid or in the bottom. The aim here is not to send streams of feces-enriched liquid into the surrounding environment! We want this to be as controlled as possible. Similarly, please DO use common sense when deciding if a given location is well-suited for this type of bin. It probably SHOULDN’T be located in the side of a hill (where run-off will just end up pouring in) or in areas with high water-tables or, just generally, in close proximity to bodies of water!
While I am at it, I might as well add the caution that pregnant women and children should NEVER handle cat feces – and really, this type of system should probably only be used by those with at least some vermicomposting experience under their belts!
It’s not a bad idea to smooth out your drill holes a bit, so as to hopefully avoid harming any worms.
As touched on earlier, I created the initial habitat zone by simply mixing shredded cardboard with well-aged horse manure. I made sure everything was nice and moist right off the bat since I planned to add the worms on the same day (more on that in a minute).
As shown in the very first image above, I decided to locate this system directly in front of a big comfrey plant (which has been thriving each year due to its close proximity to my backyard composting bins). This is not close to where food crops are being grown (another location consideration), and I like the idea of having the comfrey – a well-known nutrient accumulator – ultimately converting the wastes into useful biomass (another topic I’ll be revisiting in upcoming posts).
I dug a hole that was deep enough for the bucket to be submerged in soil up to where the ventilation holes are located (second image below is misleading – the dirt had not been moved back yet).
Ok – getting back to the worms…
I ended up adding what was likely the equivalent of one of my “Euro-Red Mix” bags – this added even more top notch habitat material to the system.
Next, I added a thin layer of shredded cardboard, then a layer of cat poop (if people are squeamish about gum, I’m certainly NOT going to bother with images here! LOL), with a final layer of the cardboard over top.
Lastly, I simply popped the lid back on.
I just checked on the system again, and it looks as though – while there a no worms up in the poop zone (not surprised) – there is a lot of critter activity in general, and there are plenty of worms in the habitat material directly below. It’s important to mention that it’s been really hot (by our standards) as well – so I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of worms are hanging out below where it’s likely a lot cooler.
The possibilities for this type of system in general, are really limitless. I’ll be writing about another similar project I’ve started (in the same vein as “Worm Towers“) very soon.