Dirt Farming: All You've Ever Wanted to Know About Our Rabbit Poop Sitation
One of my favorite things to think about is dirt. We grow all our flowers in thick, heavy, water logged red clay, and it is essential that we amend the soil. In fact, if you stick around this blog you'll see that I mostly just talk about dirt. Clay dirt, dirt with mealworm frass in it, dirt with donkey poop in it, dirt I dug up from the forest and add to the clay, etc. Today I am going to tell you about how we amend the dirt with rabbit poop, straw, and leaves.
So, first a little background. For years our oldest kids wanted rabbits. "We don't have time for rabbits," we said. Well, Covid hit and we said, "Sure, get a rabbit." Thanks to some friends, we wound up with two males (Teapot and Scar) and one female (Fluffy). One day Bryan thought it would be ok to put Fluffy in the run with Teapot for a mere five minutes while he cleaned a cage. And that is why we now have eight bunnies and how our kids learned alllllll about procreation. Anyway.
As you may already know, rabbit poop is an excellent, natural fertilizer that, unlike chicken poop, can be applied directly to the garden. If you mix it with straw and leaves, you have an excellent soil building concoction.
After we had that whole ... population growth, we had to build more cages. So we now have these amazing bunny runs that Bryan and the kids built as part of Covid homeschool. They even have a ramp at the bottom of the cage that we call the "the poop shoot," that collects all the poop that falls down through the wires of the main cage and rolls it down into a bucket at the end. That's super easy to clean and when the bucket is full we just take that poop and put is straight into the garden.
But four of our eight bunnies poop inside their den area. The den area is enclosed and does not have wire bottom. So the poop just collects. After much trial and error, I realized we actually have a nice little situation here. Rather than wait for the straw and leaves to break down in the garden beds, we can just let the bunnies do the hard work for us and get a head start on that dirt farming.
I took a series of photos to show you the process.
So, above is a bunny den ready to be cleaned out. They poop cute, little round poops that eventually break back down into a straw-like substance.
1. I clean out all the poop and organic matter into a bucket, like so:
(More on how I apply it soon!)
2. After it's cleaned out, I start with a bottom layer of some type of straw. You can put the leaves at the bottom, but I'v discovered straw bedding is much better at soaking up urine and preventing the cage's wood flooring from breaking down.
3. Next I use leaves saved from a friend and fellow flower farmer's yard. I keep a bag of leaves inside the cage just as I would a bale of straw or bag of bedding. The leaves create a nice burrowing space for the bunny and the bunny's excrement helps speed up the breakdown of the leaves.
4. After the cage is cleaned and new bedding placed inside, I take the poop-filled mixture of straw, leaves and rabbit poop and add it all to the layer of leaves and straw I already have decomposing in the garden! When spring comes, I'll do some minor mixing and then will direct plant into these rows I currently have layered with organic amendments. I can't wait to show you what we're growing come spring!
As you can see, this bunny is happy and so is our dirt!