Want a GREENCONE? Start here: Postal Code / Zip:

Become a Community Partner
 
 

What about...?

Rats
For the most part, vermin isn't an issue with the Green Cone. Properly installed, with the lip of the upper cone just below ground level and covered with soil, the system effectively eliminates odor and also acts as a barrier to intrusion. It's pretty much impossible to gnaw through the cone, as there's nowhere to get a toothhold.
In areas where there are rat infestations, they can get more aggressive, burrowing under ground to chew through the basket itself. The simple way to deal with it is to wrap the basket with hardware cloth or chicken wire before you put it in the ground. Hardware stores usually have a roll of it 36" wide, if you buy a length of 7' it will be plenty. Get some plastic zapstraps, then roll the basket up in the wire with enough on the bottom to fold up and cover, and attach the wire with the zapstraps. Beofre putting in the ground, cut slits in the 'apron' of wire around the top so that it can be laid flat, and cover with a layer of soil. If your area has an ongoing issue with rats, or you just want to be sure, it's an easy effective insurance policy.

Best Practices: Rats, raccoons and small animals

The Green Cone food waste digester is far less likely to attract vermin and small animals than other methods of food waste management such as traditional composting or collection for pickup. This is due to the decomposition process, which when fully active covers the waste in a mold blanket that is unappealing to animals, and also occurs below ground level and therefore reduces any attractant odors.

It was the racoon that led to the addition of a latch in the Green Cone design - they're smart and tricky and they were drawn by the bits of food that sometimes miss the cone. But they don't have thumbs. What they can do, and will before the cone is established, is dig a 'moat' around the basket in order to try to get in. If you put a border of decent sized boulders around the cone (big enough that a raccoon can't lift or push it, and that it will hurt if it lands on their head) the issue is solved. There are still plenty of original cones in Ontario and the eastern US with bricks on the lids. And no problems reported with animals of any sort.

In some circumstances, however, animals can become attracted to the fresh waste that has been deposited in the cone. The round shape and smooth surface of the exposed areas are all but impossible breech with teeth and claws and are a significant deterrent, but some animals may look to access the waste by burrowing into the ground around the cone and chewing through the plastic basket. If there are animals in your area or a rat infestation that you’re aware of, there are some simple alternatives that will ensure the integrity of the cone for its lifetime.

Option 1: The rat basket

By taking the time to protect the plastic basket with wire mesh before burying it you can make it impenetrable. Animals may initially burrow down, but will stop when they’re unable to access the waste.

2 metres chicken wire (usually 36" wide)
12- 14 nylon zap straps
wire cutters

1. Wrap the black basket with the chicken wire, leaving about 12" hanging
below, to be folded up on the bottom.
2. Use the zap straps to secure chicken wire to the basket where it meets, on the bottom and around the rim (just below it)
3. Cut the wire that comes above the rim in four or five radial slices so that it can be folded down flat to ground level to make an apron.
4. Then secure the black and green cones to the baskets, put it in the
hole, fill, and cover the wire apron with dirt.

It shouldn't take more than 15 minutes, or cost you more than $15

 

Option 2: The Boulder border

Rodents, and particularly raccoons, can be particularly precise excavators, digging a moat to make King Arthur proud. But they can also be pretty simply dissuaded. This method can work by itself or in conjunction with the rat basket. This approach basically rings the cone rim with boulders that will fall on the animals when they try to burrow under them.

Boulders, rocks or bricks 5” in diameter or larger – enough to ring the cone

Place the boulders around the base of the cone, resting on the rim but allowing air movement.

Establishing the Cone Environment

Regardless of which approach is chosen, or even if no steps are required, it’s a good idea to establish the environment before adding large amounts of animal attractants (meat, bones, dairy, oil products and foods cooked with oils). In normal circumstances the mold colony will be well established within a month of use, particularly if the accelerant power is used as a primer during that perio

Best Practices: Bears

The Green Cone food waste digester was invented in Northern Ontario, and has been in use there and in other areas of bear habitat (Southern Ontario, Northern Vermont) for over 25 years.

Green Cones are not bear proof – very little is bear proof if the bear really wants to get in – and there have been instances of bears ripping the tops off of Green Cones, or even knocking the cone out of the ground. But there have also been Green Cones used effectively in the long term in bear country. The decomposition process when fully active covers the waste in a mold blanket that is unappealing to animals, and also occurs below ground level and therefore reduces any attractant odors. The trick seems to be to get the environment well established.

Establishing the Cone Environment

In bear country, extra measures should be taken establish the environment before adding large amounts of animal attractants (meat, bones, dairy, oil products and foods cooked with oils). In normal circumstances the mold colony will be well established within a month of use, particularly if the accelerant power is used as a primer during that period, but the best practice is to wait until the mold cover is clearly visible and ‘healthy’, no matter how long that takes.

Using repellants

There are no commercially produced bear sprays available (other than those that you spray in their eyes), but bears can be repelled. Because the Green Cone is enclosed, bears will generally sniff it before they decide whether or not to demolish it. A Park Ranger in Yellowstone discovered that a good shake of cayenne pepper on the top of closed garbage cans was effective, and the same is true for Green Cones. Keep the pepper by the cone shake it on the lid every time you put waste in, even put some around the rim. Tobasco can also be used, and WD40 sprayed on the lid and sides is an effective deterrent until the cne is established.

Flies
Flies may be one of the trickiest issues to deal with when using your Green Cone. They lay their larvae on the food waste before it goes into the cone, and then can breed there. There are a number of natural remedies that can be used, some of which work better on some species than others, and best results come from spraying the waste itself when it sits in the caddy on the counter instead of what's in the cone.
Poor Drainage
If there is a high water table, you'll need to take some steps to ensure that the cone works properly. Building a mound on a base of drainage rock and enclosing the soil in some way is an effective solution. You can also use a bottomless planter, it doesn't matter what it's made of, that will provide drainage and allow contact with the earth.

Best Practices: Deck/Roof top/Multi-unit installations

The Green Cone food waste digester is primarily designed as a back yard solution, it uses heat from the sun in combination with the naturally occurring macrobiotic activity in the earth and the waste itself to develop a rapid decomposition process which produces primarily liquid that is absorbed in the soil. Although it is a single family solution, it can also be adapted to serve the growing number of families that live in multi-unit housing, albeit with some modification and maintenance not required in the backyard.

What you need

The necessary factors for Green Cone success are sunlight, drainage and sufficient macrobiotic activity.

Location

Sunlight: a sunny outdoor spot on a deck or patio, one that will have direct sunlight at least 25% of the time (more is better)

Drainage: a slanted surface is good, a surface with its own drainage is also preferable

Structural integrity: The Green Cone, even when full of waste, will not be unduly heavy, so a deck meant for people will have sufficient structural stability.

Installation

Requirements:

  1. Prepare the planter
                Drill 3/8” holes 2” apart through the bottom of the planter
                Cover the bottom of the planter with 2” of rock
                Cover the rock with 2” of soil, mixing in half of one packet of accelerator             as you go
  2. Assemble the Green Cone per instructions
  3. Center the Green Cone in the planter, and shovel in the soil all around it, alternating accelerator powder after each level and tamping it down until it reaches the rim of the green cone.
  4. Move the cone to the sunny location (it will still be carryable at this point unless its a heavy material planter).

 

Usage and Maintenance

Use the cone as per the regular instructions, but always shake accelerator powder (the same amount as salting food) on the waste before putting it in.

Use a hose to wash away the effluent as it accumulates around the cone.