The Grim Side of Garden Grooming

The Grim Side of Garden Grooming
Dogs in Garden
Dogs in the Garden

Another quick one today, as I am still down with the cold and cursing my lack of foresight in NOT buying eucalyptus body wash for just this occasion. If you are at all squeamish about faeces you might want to skip this post.

The sun was out today, and after three days chock full of napping, I decided to drag myself off the couch and out of the house for some garden grooming in the fresh air.

Where I did a little weeding. We have a problem with Cape Broom (among other brooms). It is a noxious weed; a plant with such a large potential for environmental damage it is controlled by legislation. I don’t have such a huge problem that I would consider herbicide (for more or less the same reasons I don’t use poison for rodent control), so I rely on hand removal of new shoots.  Broom disperses its seed widely through explosive seed pods between November and February and now is around the time the seeds are starting to sprout.  As it  grows it crowds out native plant seedlings, and as the seeds remain viable for about three years it can take a great deal of time and effort to get rid of. I cut down one a couple of years ago (I didn’t notice it growing while I was on dialysis) so I need to keep on top of the germination and I’m pulling up around 10 tiny plants a week. Which is oddly satisfying.

As is the fact that they go in the bin in a bag full of doggy do-doo, another noxious task on the list for today. Fortunately, DB likes mowing the lawn slightly more than excavating excrement, and I like seeking out scat slightly more than lawn mowing so these chores work out fairly equitably. I wish I could say the same for all of the things that need doing around the house, but suffice it to say that the very second my book royalties get to $100 a month I will be hiring a cleaner.

Anyway, picking up poo is another one of those things that at face value is thoroughly objectionable. However, according to Dr Karen Becker, your dog’s dung is an important indicator of its overall health. Not that you can really tell after a good week of rain, though it does seem that some dietary adjustment may be required.

But picking it up leads to the question of what to do with it.

I recently watched a local documentary The Great Australian Fly, which among other things suggested that the fly is in part responsible for our Australian accent. It seems our Australian bush flies are perfectly adapted for dealing with native poo – hard little nuggets. When the British settled they brought cows with them, and they leave big wet dollops. The bush flies lay eggs, and ONE cow pat can spawn hundreds of thousands of flies. Bush flies basically sit on a creature’s back waiting for them to shit so that they can get in there before they harden up. So hundreds and thousands of flies hanging around waiting led to Australians developing a way of talking that didn’t involve opening their mouths much. The bulk of the problem was solved by importing dung beetles from Africa during the 1950s, which can dispose of a cow pat within a couple of hours.

You can’t home compost it, as it doesn’t decay but you can get a mini treatment system that you did into the garden and sprinkle with a treatment powder. Kind of like a bokashi system. You can put it in a worm farm, provided the poo isn’t more than 5% of the total volume (and you haven’t recently wormed your dogs), or dig it into the garden about a foot (30cm deep) and let the local worms take care of it. Not a good idea to flush it as it may not be fully decomposed when it exits the treatment plant and may pass bugs or germs back into the ecosystem. Most councils permit non-commercial quantities in the normal waste collection provided they are bagged, and that’s what we do.

But at least today we were done and back inside before the leaf blowers started up, and the garden looks as neat and inviting as the house does after the carpets have been vacuumed.

And having a blocked nose (and not being able to smell) was a distinct advantage.

But now it’s time for a spot of online soap shopping…

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