compost - Knowledgebase Question

Maybrook, Ne
Question by photoperson
January 4, 2009
I would like to know if I can put my dogs waste on my compost pile. Or is there another way to take care of it? I haven't used any of the soil that has been in the compost pile yet, I started it last spring.
My soil is very hard, and I find that I need to keep mixing it up to give my few plants a fighting chance.
This past summer I tried to grow peppers,squash and cucumbers, only the cucumbers grew. the peppers and squash had lots of flowers, but no vegetables ever appeared. I also had gladiolas planted in the same bed, and only one bulb flowered, the others had lots of growth, but that is all. I thought making my own compost would help.
Thank you

Answer from NGA
January 4, 2009


It's best for homeowners to dispose of dog and cat feces somewhere other than their compost piles. Feces can contain pathogens that have the potential to survive the composting process and, when the compost is used, it may contaminate the soil. This is especially alarming if you use the compost in your vegetable garden. When you compost only plant materials and kitchen scraps, it will be safe to use in your vegetable garden. You can bury the dog waste in an isolated area of the garden, away from edible plants.

It's true that poor soil will affect your plants. They can be stunted and non-productive if you soil is hard and lacks nutrients. Adding compost to the soil will help enrich the soil and loosen it, so water can penetrate and plant roots can grow well. Start by spreading 4-5" of organic matter such as finished compost over your vegetable garden bed and dig it in to a depth of 8-10". Level the soil and plant your seeds or vegetable starts and water them in well. Be sure to place your garden in the sunniest spot you can find. The peppers, squash and cucumbers you grew last year may not have gotten adequate sunshine to set fruit, or you may have planted them too late in the season for them to be able to develop fruits. Flowers require pollination - usually accomplished by bees, flies, wasps or other flying insects. You can encourage visits from these beneficial insects by having a variety of flowering plants in your yard all season long, and by avoiding the use of pesticides.

I think that if you amend your soil with compost and plant in a sunny spot, your vegetables and your gladiolus will bloom well for you next year.

Good luck with your compost and with your garden.

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