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The Things You Can Do with Poo

Poop products make a strong market play

No, this isn’t an article intended for a preschool audience. I will not entertain readers with funny stories of toddlers “helping mommy paint” using the contents of their diaper. I will, however, provide some useful information for folks with a yard who would like to use poo to make things grow a little better.

I also intend this writing for those who would like to increase their “green-ness” by using everyday products made from poo, a renewable resource. And finally, this article is also aimed at those who still just find the subject of poo somehow funny. Let’s see how many newspaper-publishable words I can think of for poo since the Microsoft Word® Thesaurus pretends it has never heard of poo or even its technical name.

Many garden products are made from cow manure. Since the beginning of “like, forever” farmers have used the waste from their four-legged herds to help their crops. Some employ the generous output of their two–legged friends (chickens) as well. To this day they till the excrement into the dirt, fertilizing the soil that vegetables grow in.

The use of doody has reached home gardens too. And with the rise in fashion of personal vegetable gardens, there is more #2 being spread around than ever.

What does doo-doo actually do? It helps retain water and adds essential nutrients robbed from the soil each year by the growing plants. Turning in turd each spring increases nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Be sure to mulch over the top to minimize any smell.

The most crude way to use ka-ka as fertilizer is to simply mix a pile into the ground before planting. You can buy it in bags, have it delivered or get it from a neighbor who participates in the new chicken craze. However, if not using commercially available manure, make sure your dung is safe. Check that your local cow-chip supplier has followed measures such as the safety precautions outlined by Washington State University.

You may be thinking “What about dog-droppings? I have plenty of those!” I surely do at my house. My big Bullmastiffs “roofus and doofus” create a large supply. (I have used pseudonyms here to protect their identities.) But the common folklore says that one should never use the production of meat-eating animals such as dogs and cats. The University of Wisconsin explains other dangers too gross to describe here. Just don’t do it.

Try not to intermingle too much cow-patty product with your garden dirt. The levels of ammonia may rise too high and burn the plants. I’m not a scientist, but I think that soil with more than 1/3 manure is a problem. I believe that is possibly the reason some bush beans burned on us last year.

A slightly more civilized way to blend cow-chips into your garden soil is to use a pre-made product. Cow pots® are made out of cow doo on a farm in CT. They were featured on the Discovery Channel® TV show Dirty Jobs®. The ingenious invention takes the animal-landmines and creates sturdy, growing pots that actually don’t smell bad. According to their website: “CowPots® are a revolutionary seed starting pot made with 100% renewable composted cow manure. CowPots® are manure-fiber based seed starter pots, which allow for unrestricted root growth creating stronger, healthier plants.”

There are more things one can do with poo than use it as fertilizer. At the Philadelphia Flower Show, I stumbled upon a booth that sold gifts, including those from a company called Poopoopaper® that makes paper supplies from elephant, cow, horse and even Panda poo. It's Only Natural Market on Main Street, Middletown, has them for sale.

You can buy notepads, stationery, paper flower bouquets and more — all made out of animal left-behinds. I wonder if people would consider the Elephant and Panda-plop products a more exotic gift?

Ellen Waff April 07, 2011 at 02:02 PM
Oooh, Julie! Love it! Great article, Alice. I do wish there was something that could be done with doggie doo....Thor provides a generous amount of that, too! Plus, of course, we have deer droppings, turkey poop, coyote crap, and various other unidentified leavings.....
Alice N. DiMauro April 07, 2011 at 03:16 PM
Holy shoot! That was an interesting article/
Alice Blair April 07, 2011 at 06:03 PM
Wow! Not only do we have some funny people out there, but a heaping pile of poo-knowledge too. Thanks to our clever comment writers, we've now learned about Zoo and Circus poo. I love it. It seems like the circus doo story should be part of a movie. I wonder if the "Water For Elephants" script is finalized yet?
Allwynne Bound April 08, 2011 at 11:21 PM
I don't use poo, but I use compost. Which is better?
Alice Blair April 09, 2011 at 12:33 PM
Hi Allwynne - Compost vs Manure you ask? Good question. My mum, brother and I use both manure and compost, whatever is in good supply each year since we have a fairly large garden that can feed 4 families. We use leaf and kitchen-garbage compost. It seems that both provide similar effects. I say go with what works for you. If you have your own compost, atleast you know where it came from! Here is a link to a discussion on iVillage's GardenWeb with some opinions: http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/farnorth/msg0510054832488.html?16

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