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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.