In and outs of composting humanure?greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
I am in the process of reading The Humanure Handbook. It makes alot of since and I must admit I have been ignorant of how our waste is currently handled. I also read a little in the archives about composting toilets and the bucket toilet. I am wondering how many piles of compost a large family (6) would produce in the course of a year with a bucket toilet? And how big would those piles be? Would it be obvious to neighbors what we are doing? How would they know it's anything more than regular compost? I guess if it wouldn't cover too big of an area I could put up a partition of sorts to keep it out of view. I have about 3/4 acre in the country and have neighbors on both sides. There is noone in front or in back. I already compost and have a compost bin next to the house but if I did this type of composting how far should the piles be from the house? I just can't seem to get a handle on how much humanure to expect to compost. Any ideas or experience? Thanks!
-- Denise (email@example.com), May 25, 2001
no answer ,just another question.what if your not a vegetarion? maybe i should read the book. (would they have it at the library?)
-- fred in wi (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 25, 2001.
Sorry Denise, I can't help you.
But Fred, the book is on line at:
-- paul (email@example.com), May 25, 2001.
We have been composting humanure for 2 years now, our neighbors have been doing it for over a year. Two very important things are (1) keep the solids and liquids separate and (2) add plenty of inert material to the solids. We keep a bucket of sawdust next to the toilet and add about a quart of sawdust every time we use it. Ours is a 3-seater outhouse, our neighbors have an outhouse and an inside bucket system. Both work well with the sawdust, and the odor is minimal.
We keep a separate compost pile for the humanure, and use it on our orchard. After a few months composting, it has no odor and is a very rich, loose texture, full of healthy worms.
The only problems we ever have is maggot infestations in the hottest months and outhouse odor if we run out of sawdust or if the pile gets so high that the sawdust doesn't cover it!
-- David C (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 25, 2001.
Denise, I haven't read the book, but my family used a bucket for several years when I was growing up. We had to dump the bucket (5 gallon) at least twice a day. we had a family of six, and tried not to let the bucket get more than 75% full before dumping it. Solids and liquids were mixed in the bucket, which may account for the volume. The real struggle was in WHO was going to empty 'the pot'. Once my little sister let it fill all the way to the top, and then protested that it was too heavy for her to dump... I ended up having to dump it, though it her her turn. Balancing the burden carefully so as not to spill it, I happened to slip on a patch of ice! What a mess! I would not now ask children to take turns dumping the pot unless I also had a turn along with everyone else. Our parents would not dump it, and that doesn't seem fair.
-- Rebekah Leaf (email@example.com), May 25, 2001.
Denise-you might consider using 55 gal bbls to compost it in. We have an outhouse with a bbl which works quite well for us-as long as you cover it with enough sawdust! From what you say you probably couldn't get away with an out house ,so why not just dump the stuff into the bbl and keep it well covered. It is truly amazing how well it breaks down-after a few months it is well on the road to complete compost. I empty the bbl after that and let it sit a few more months before using. Really exellent stuff! Hope this helps-Howie
-- Howie (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 25, 2001.
I have some internet friends in Vermont that utilize the bucket, drum humanure system. They have a underground home, utilize a 5 gallon indoor bucket latrine system. It really works for them. I'm a first hand observer of its perfection. The waste is dumped into a 55 gallon drum. Within a year, the humanure is ready to cultivate the garden. The degrididation of the waste is so rapid that within several months, there's no smell to the waste. I wasn't a believer of this type of system until I experianced it. Now , I'm a believer.
-- Ed Chandler (EChand5000@aol.com), May 26, 2001.
Ed- I never thought I would consider such a thing either. But it seems there is so much to gain by doing it. And Rebekah I had to laugh just a little at your story! That would have been just awful though. As far as the kids are concerned, I would mainly be in charge of the pot with my husband as second in command. Most of our kids are still pretty young. I guess my only apprehension at this point is the fear of being overwhelmed by the amount of humanure and what if I put it out there and for some reason it doesn't heat up? Then I'd be in a ----load of trouble!hehe! But the pictures in the book indicate bins about the same size as the ones I'm presently using for all the other stuff anyway. I'd also have to figure out where to get the sawdust. The book says peat would work too but it seems to me that the sawdust would be easier to use. Where would I get sawdust? Can someone give me an idea of how big the bin would need to be for a year's worth of compost? If we can get this all figured out we'll give it a shot. We could always hook up the old toilet if it doesn't work. Right?
-- Denise (email@example.com), May 26, 2001.
Hmmmmm. If you worried about it heating up enough, how about painting the composting barrel black, to gather more heat? Or set up an old window on the southside of the bin to collect more heat . . . It's been awhile since I read the book -- don't they address such issues?
-- Joy F [in So. Wisconsin] (CatFlunky@excite.com), May 26, 2001.
My experience is with composing toilet (sun-mar) which we use for our meager family of 3. I know that my husband has to empty to catching/drying chamber twice a week, and that it needs to set awhile longer outdoors before it is useful for anything. We do not use sawdust, we use peatmoss for our system. 1 cup per pee or "other". Long visits require 2 cups. We also add in extra whenever we stir the toilet "barrel".
I think the orchard use is the best, as we concern ourselves with bacteria partial to humans. I won't allow it in our kitchen garden, for reasons of sanitation. I guess it smells a little the first 30 days, but nothing you can smell 20 feet away or anything horrid like that. I think we might give the sawdust a try. Anything to get it dry faster, I say. Keep it stirred!
-- Marty (Mrs.Puck@Excite.com), May 26, 2001.
Denise, You asked about a source for sawdust. May I suggest that you try the local roof truss manufacturer. Usually they sell the cut ends to folks. One year we bought about 2 cord of wood that way. It was delivered in a large bin that they dumped on our driveway. Took the whole family of 6, two days to sort through the entire pile. We ended up with 17 large plastic yard waste bags of sawdust from that one delivery. I suspect that any local woodworking mill will have tremendous quantities of sawdust as a byproduct that they may be only too willing to give away to anyone that will take the stuff. It saves them on the costs to have it shipped to a landfill instead.
Good Luck with it.
-- Lloyd (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 27, 2001.
Just purchased a 35 acre timbered piece of land with years worth of tree tops and slabs for firewood, etc. and a mountain of sawdust. So, you might try contacting anyone who timbers land for a resource. Looking forward to trying the humanure idea. At least, going to the outhouse won't be as bad as when I was a kid, I know I'm to big to fall in now!
-- Kelly Miller (email@example.com), May 31, 2001.