Composting with Pets

As I’ve written before, my composting method is not very scientific.  I toss all of my kitchen scraps (minus animal products and all of my garden waste (minus diseased plants) in a huge, open heap.  Its moisture levels are determined by the weather, and it is turned when I run out of useable compost.  This system is a lot less stressful that the more scientific methods, but there is one major drawback. Dogs LOVE compost.

Compost Hounds

This picture was taken right before I turned the pile, effectively burying the kitchen scraps, but as you can see, the dogs wasted no time whatsoever.

I used to prevent this, or at least try to, by enclosing the compost in wire mesh.  Not only did dogs just dig under it, though, weeds grew around the mesh, making it difficult to turn the pile.  Now, I just cover the kitchen scraps with straw in the winter, and pile garden waste on top in the summer.  This helps a little, but the dogs get far more than I would like.

This brings me to hops.  Right now, the hops are just beginning to climb up their trellises.

Just Starting to Grow

A Little Further Along (Weeds Included)

Eventually, though, harvest will be over, and the vines will have to be chopped down.  If you are like me, they would just be thrown on the compost heap with the rest of the fall cleanup.  However, if you are also like me, and have dogs, this could be a deadly mistake.

Ingesting hops, both before and after brewing, can cause malignant hyperthermia.  Symptoms include heavy panting and a rapid heartbeat, along with a high, fast-moving fever.  Not all dogs are affected, but it is not worth taking the chance.

If you plan on growing hops this year, you also need to plan on having a safe disposal method.  Our brush pile is outside the fenced yard and should therefore be safe enough for the vines.  As for the pulp that remains after brewing, as much as it pains me to do so, that will go into the garbage.  I may send mental daggers their way each time the dogs get into the compost, but I would never want them to actually be harmed.

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4 Responses to Composting with Pets

  1. Becky says:

    I never knew that – good to know, even if we don’t have a dog. I’m sure that at some point, Randy will grow hops. I’m equally sure that at some point Zoey and Parker will lobby for (and get) a dog!

  2. Jerre says:

    I throw the kitchen scraps on top of the manure pile, but Cutter still gets the “good stuff.” Chickens will eat a lot, too, but I can’t give them any protein, because then Cutter wants to dig into the chicken yard.

    We finally just started putting bones in the garbage, even though they make good compost.

    • Sarah Sarah says:

      We used to throw all kitchen scraps, including meat and bones, in the compost. A heavy rat infestation cured of us that in hurry, though.

      I never, ever want to hear rats gnawing on the floorboards again.

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