July 30, 2008 - Compost and Home Made Dog Food

Of course compost and dog food have nothing to do with each other, but it's a slow week in the garden.

I'm a failure at composting. I used to have a wonderful compost pile, back in the days when I had a "real" garden and a nearby neighbor with horse poop and straw. Now, living in the city, I have a bottomless barrel back behind the garden shed, and I just randomly throw the kitchen and garden scraps into it. I think it takes something like five years to decompose (not really, but it seems like it). I just don't have all the brown and green stuff to have a proper compost pile. And my almost-seventy-year-old body doesn't take kindly to the daily compost turning, anyway. It's for that reason I now do "trench composting". I just find a vacant spot in my garden, dig a hole and bury everything. By next spring it will have enriched my garden plot with little or no work on my part. It's easy right now, as I have one of the 4'x4' beds still unplanted, so I should have one very fertile plot for next year's veggies. My grandparent's always used trench composting. Grandma composted all of her potato peelings, and many times they would sprout and give her a little crop of potatoes.

My"real" garden, when I had a "real" compost pile (barely visible on the right) and about a quarter of an acre or more to grow on.

Now, on to the dog food. Annie and her brother, Otto (we call him Otter), have decided home cooking is preferable to store-bought dog food. I've tried just about every brand, dry and canned, and ended up throwing or giving most of it away. They're just six months old now, playful puppies, and I do want them to have a proper nutritious diet. So I have come up with the following recipe for home made dog food. I've been able to stock the freezer with chicken thighs at 99-cents a pound, so the cost has been comparable to purchased food. I'll probably regret it next winter, when we go to Arizona and my food bill more than doubles because of the high prices there.

I boil up an entire large package of chicken thighs (12 thighs per pkg) and freeze four to a container, covered with the unseasoned broth. I also cook and pre-chop the vegetables and freeze them in containers, as well as precooking and freezing the rice. Once a week or so, I thaw out enough for the following recipes (the breakfast oatmeal is made fresh each morning).

Annie & Otto's Dog Food (breakfast)

1/2 cup old fashioned oats, prepared with 1 cup water
1 cooked chicken thigh, diced
2 puppy vitamin tabs, crushed
1/4 tsp. powdered egg shell
chicken broth to moisten
leftover veggies from last night's dinner (optional)

Annie & Otto's Dog Food (dinner)

16 oz. cooked chicken, chopped or diced, about 3 cups (lean ground beef, turkey, etc)
12 oz. vegetables, chopped, about 2 cups
12 oz. cooked brown rice, about 2 cups
2 T. ground flax seed
2 T. powdered milk
1 tsp. ground eggshell
2 brewers yeast/garlic tab, crushed
2 T. olive oil
Cooking broth to moisten

Prepare meats by boiling, save cooking liquid. Prepare rice according to pkg. directions. Microwave/steam vegetables (leftover veggies may also be added) and chop in food processor. Add all remaining ingredients to veggies and stir just to combine. Makes four meals.

They also get a soft boiled egg several times a week (I save the shells after boiling the eggs, dry them and grind them in a coffee bean grinder to add to their meals for calcium), and let them snack on raw carrots, dried cranberries and dried apricots.

I will vary their diet at times by making them a meat loaf and freezing 8-ounce slices. It will have most of the ingredients of their dinner recipe, using lean ground beef, cooked in loaf form. NO ONIONS! Onions are poison to canines, even in small amounts.

Annie's brother, Otter

Otter looks so sad in this photo! He's really a very happy puppy, laid back and loveable. He just didn't like being told to sit still while his picture was being taken.

Today in the garden: Even on slow days I manage to find something worth picking. Here was today's take, three tomatoes, two cucumbers, a bunch of purple basil and a handful of parsley.

I needed some green onions from the grocery store, and they came in two bunches of seven onions each. I only needed two for our dinner, so I planted a dozen of them in the garden. That's a good trick for keeping green onions if you don't use very many at a time. I've always planted my extras in the garden or in a pot on the patio, to pull fresh as I need them. Of course, you have to make sure the ones you buy have a decent root system, which most do.


  1. Learn something new everyday. I didn't know that you could plant green onions like that. I've got just the pot left, I'm going to try it.

  2. I've kept them for months like that, but they get quite hot as they get bigger...good for cooking, though. I can do this year 'round, what with being in AZ in the winter and WA in the summer. I suppose you could put them in a pot of soil on a windowsill in the winter...don't know why that wouldn't work.

  3. That is such an impressive vegetable plot. It's massive !
    Otter is simply adorable and so fortunate you take the time to make him (& Annie) homemade dogfood. Every dog should be so lucky.

  4. Anonymous, when I had that garden, I was feeding five kids! Now, with just the two of us, my garden is much smaller. I miss the big garden, though.

    Annie and Otto are just a little bit spoiled...but they give us so much unconditional love, they are worth any special things we can do for them.