Making Your Own Organic Potting Mix

As it was a beautiful sunny day in Sydney, I decided to spend the day in the garden, re potting some pot plants.  Lately I have been making my own organic potting mix, which I learnt how to do from a free City of Sydney Council, Live Green Workshop.

My Aloe Vera plant's new home. Finished results.

To make good potting soil, you  need to include three elements; water, air and nutrients.  Here are my ingredients for making organic potting mix that has all three of these elements:

1) Water – Coconut fibre

2) Air – Sand

3) Nutrients  – Humus  (can be compost or castings from a worm farm or even EM Bokashi treated dog poo.  NOTE if using dog poo in the recipe, it is well advised not to use the potting mix for edible plants, like fruit, veggies and herbs).

Let me explain in more detail:

Purchase organic compressed coconut bricks from nurseries or hardware. Make sure they are organic!

Organic, compressed, coconut fibre

Soak the coconut bricks in water for at least 15 minutes, so the compressed brick will separate and expand.

Place organic, compressed coconut fibre into a bucket of water

If like me you do not have a wheelbarrow (for mixing the potting soil), lay a tarpaulin on the ground.  Add the bucket of separated and wet coconut fibre onto the tarp.

Use a tarp to mix your organic potting mix, if you do not own a wheelbarrow

Now add the sand (in the same quantity as the coconut fibre).

Sand is an important ingredient in creating your own organic potting mix as it provides air

Now add the nutrients.  As I am not re planting edible plants like fruit, veggies or herbs today, I will use my EM Bokashi treated dog poo.  Again in the same quantity as the sand and coconut fibre (all three parts equal in quantity).

Dog poo treated / coated with EM Bokashi powder makes good nutrients in organic potting mixture for non edible plants

Mix well together.

Mix the coconut fibre, sand and dog poo coated with EM bokashi powder together on a tarp

Now to pot your plant (just as normal).  Using one of my  garden pot ‘finds’ – I picked this garden pot up just recently from the side of the road.  Saved it from going to land fill.

Using a garden pot that I picked up from the side of the road.  Saved from landfill.

As you can see this Aloe Vera plant is overgrown and needing a bigger garden pot.

Overgrown Aloe Vera Plant - needing re planting

And Walla……..the finished results.

My Aloe Vera plant's new home.  Finished results.

Here is my mint that I replanted a month ago.  As mint is an edible plant, I used worm castings as the nutrients in my organic potting mixture.  The mint has doubled in sized since I planted it!

Mint re planted one month ago has now doubled in size.

Why is dog poo so interesting?

If you take a sneak peak at the statistics of each individual post on my website you will discover something a little strange.

 

The overall top posts in regards to how many hits (different from the daily top posts which I display on the left hand side) are all to do with dog poo!  Funny hey?!?

 

It is been awhile so here is an update on our household dog poo and what we do to recycle it.

 

Currently I am scoping up the poo and placing inside a bucket with a lid.  I do this daily then sprinkle ‘EM Bokashi’ over the top (about a handful).  For more information on why I am doing this please read ‘what to do with dog poo’ post.

 

Since I have been doing this we have noticed that there is no really bad smell in the bucket.  The previous bad smell has been replaced with a vinaigrette type fragrance.  The bucket is kept outside which used to attracted lots of flies (even with the lid on) but now we are adding ‘EM Bokashi’ the files are not flying around the bucket anymore.

 

Very soon I plan to burry the dog waste in the large plant pots around our home.

 

As regular readers will know, we live in the inner city of Sydney.  We are lucky to have a reasonably large back courtyard (no grass) where the dogs are kept.  This means we are able to have large pots.  But what if you live in a unit with no real option of burring dog waste?

 

I think I have finally come up with a solution (feel free to judge my thinking).  Try scoping up the doggie poo in those biodegradable doggie bags then sprinkle ‘EM Bokashi’ over the poop. 

 

Then tie the bag up tight so no air can get in, which will make it an anaerobic brake down process (without air).  Apparently ‘EM Bokashi’ neutralises the methane and hence is not emitted into the atmosphere if brake down is anaerobic

 

You then could burry the bags in a family or friend neighbour’s yard.  Or if have no other option then you could put into the garbage bin (because you will not be adding to the landfill methane problem).

 

I am really interested to know my readers thoughts on this one.  J

 

 


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What to do with dog poo?

It has been interesting to view the statistics on each post.  By the far the most popular post has been Doggie Poo Loo’.

 

As a recap on this post, I decided that it would not be the best option to add our dog poo to our worm farm.  So we have been scoping it up and placing in a bucket with a lid and then once a week burring it in the garden.

 

I have read so many blogs and websites on this issue. I was concerned and confused with the suggestion that burring dog poo in your garden (what we were doing) is better than placing the waste straight into your garbage bin to be taken to landfill.  Isn’t both processes anaerobic (without air) brake down and this produces methane?  We know methane is a greenhouse gas.

 

Often we can feel better about the environment knowing we are doing something but I struggled with the idea that I was just creating my own little personal methane producing landfill at home.

 

So this is what I have decided to do now:

 

I will continue to scop the dog poo up into a bucket with a lid as before but now will sprinkle EM Bokashi powder over the waste each time I add new dog waste.  Then burry the dog poo when the bucket is full.

 

What is EM Bokashi?

 

“EM Bokashi is a pleasant smelling product made using a combination of sawdust and bran that has been infused with Effective Micro-organisms (EM). EM Bokashi has traditionally been used to increase the microbial diversity and activity in soils and to supply nutrients to plants.” *

 

Why do I think adding EM Bokashi over dog waste is better?

 

1)       Apparently EM Bokashi neutralises the methane and hence is not emitted into the atmosphere.

2)       Burying waste next to plants without EM will mean the waste will produce methane which apparently can harm or kill your plants.

3)       Waste brake down with EM is apparently quicker.

 

From my current understanding, using EM will mean that our dog waste will no longer create methane when it brakes down and hence I will no longer have a personal landfill at home.

 

I believe this will be a better way of dealing with dog poo than what I was currently doing.

 

* Resource ‘Bokashi Composting Australia’

 

 

 

 


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Doggie Poo Loo?

Three months old but do not let them fool you - they are naughty!My posts so far have been setting the scene for ‘Greener Me’.  A way of explanation and background to why I started my ‘Greener Me’ blog.

 

If you are reading this today the 2nd of June 2008 – thankyou!  Thank you because you are joining me on my ‘Greener Me’ journey from the beginning.

 

This last week I have been away for work in Brisbane (Australia) and I am missing very much my husband and our two small fluffy puppies ‘Mini’ and ‘Cooper’ (aka the babies).

 

Before we brought home our puppies, my husband and I discussed ideas on training and the environmental issues with dog ownership. Ironically both topics revolved around doggie poo!

 

For the first two days after bringing our puppy’s home, we were stressed out new parents. To make life easier, we flushed their number two’s down the loo.  Our thinking was their dog poo could be treated along with human waste at treatment plants before being released into the water system.

 

This was never going to be a long term solution as it is just gross. So for the next four weeks with a small, hand garden spade we scooped up and buried their number two’s in our large pot plants that are position in our small garden court yard.  However we found the time it took to do this twice a day, was not the greatest time management strategy.

 

A temporary solution was to place the regular ‘doggy poo scope ups’ in a bucket, then once a week bury them.  I do know that dog waste contains large amounts of bacteria such as Escherichia Coli (E.Coli) and Salmonella which are washed into waterways and oceans, causing contamination and potential human infections. Also Parasites such as Hookworm and Roundworm can live for years in soil where dog poo has been left to degrade, leading to further animal or human infection.

 

Burring the waste may be better than leaving it on the grass to decompose but I am not sure how much better it is.  Does anyone have thoughts on this?

 

What I think we will have to do is start a small worm farm for our doggie poo.  We actually already have a worm farm for our house hold waste (food scrapes etc).  However I didn’t think it was a good idea to be putting doggie fertiliser waste on our plants that produce food we will consume (e.g. our lemon tree).  Not sure on the facts but knowing that parasites can live for years in soil, it probably is a no brainier.

 

One tip I have just learnt is not to put dog poo in the worm farm straight after the dogs have been wormed.  The worming medication will kill the worms.

 

So here we are at the decision to purchase a 2nd worm farm.  I welcome any ideas, thoughts or facts before I go out and do this.

 

Sarhn

 

Thank you to this article for which I gained my knowledge.

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