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Composting toilet hugelkultur  RSS feed

 
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Composting toilets are clever but they require you to have woodchips, and to move/turn/otherwise deal with your poo which turns alot of people off to them. I think I thought of something better.

There's a poem (limerick?) that goes, "in days of old when knights were bold and toilets weren't invented, they took a dump on an old tree stump and walked away contented". Which sounds ridiculous at first but I've seen other references to the same method. Presumably the tree stump absorbs the turd and it doesn't just sit there, otherwise they'd just as often have used a big rock or something else.

So I'm thinking, why not just dig a deep hole, fill it with dozens of tree stumps worth of wood, and build a toilet on it? Grey water could be used to "flush" it and the logs should absorb everything and not allow it to pollute the surrounding area. You wouldn't have to do anything but that and after some years (depending on how deep you made it and how many people use it) it'd be full of good compost and you'd build another one five feet from it.

Unlike a regular hugelkultur the best thing to use would be fresh, dry wood like firewood, as it has more absorbing potential. A standing dead tree would do nicely. You wouldn't want to layer soil or anything else in obviously. A long metal poker could be used periodically to assess how much of the wood had decayed. Other than that it'd be just like a regular outhouse, but it doesn't stink and you have to pour a bit of water down the toilet after you use it.

Good idea?
 
gardener
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Since you'd have not only urine but also the rinsing gray water going into this pit, it would seem pretty likely that it would behave a lot like a pit latrine, in that it would be pretty anaerobic and there's not much preventing leeching into ground to contaminate nearby ground water. While stumps would absorb some, I'm not sure how much and you'd still need to move the outhouse around to new spots once the current pit was full/at the right ratio right?

I have seen people use stumps in hugelkultur and I have also heard some suggest putting nitrogen rich material like manure in between wood in the middle to help get the C/N ratio right, so it certainly has some potential.
 
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Methinks they searched for hollow tree-stumps - on account of them being a bit toilety in any case.

Funny poem.

But, it seems you've invented "EEEWWWWgelkultur".... might be good in a pinch, but doesn't strike me as a great long-term plan.

WhatddooIknow though?
 
L. Tims
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Well the idea is that the pit is deep enough that the pee/poo is absorbed before it hits the bottom. And a roof protects the pit from rainwater that would cause leaching. Tarps could be used around the building if the size roof that would be needed isn't practical. Maybe the extra water is a bad idea and things should be left to work their way down naturally.
 
pollinator
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The tree bog outhouse, built over an enclosure of strawbale,  is a thing.
Thing is,  straw is more absorbent ,and breaks down easier.
I wouldn't want to count on logs and mostly whole wood to absorb the poop moisture and urine much less grey water.
 
pollinator
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I don't think this would function as hoped and wouldn't give the user any great compost for the future. Humanure compost systems are not very difficult, woodchips are easy to locate for cheap or free and greatly increase the amount of compost available after the "rest" period. A read through the humanure handbook by Joe Jenkins will reveal that a properly made pile is not in need of turning so the effort involved is very minimal. Any gardening/permaculture site is going to have a compost pile anyway so why not make it a humanure one? We need to stop thinking of poo as a chore or something that needs to be disposed of, but something that needs to utilized.

http://humanurehandbook.com/
 
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Location: Rural Unincorporated Los Angeles County Zone 10b
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Simply put some water in your poo pit and aerate it.



Anaerobic bacteria metabolize hydrogen sulphide... that's the stink.
If you aerate your pit, anaerobic bacteria consume the anaerobic bacteria.
Aerobic bacteria metabolize carbon dioxide... no stink!
 
L. Tims
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That's an interesting one, Greg. Kind of like compost tea. Do you add a source of sugar to it to feed the aerobic bacteria? How soon would this be safe to use (not on leaf vegetables or anything like that obviously, but trees and pumpkin plants)?
 
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A cesspit is historically the original way our long-ago ancestors did it.  Logs in it aren't going to make much of a difference, because logs might absorb some moisture, but once they are saturated they won't absorb any more, and the rest goes off down the hill.  A cesspit is a continually-adding liquid situation.  People usually habitate where there is water, where there is ground water, and along rivers, creeks and lakes.  It might take 20 years for that path to the fresh water to be made, but it will happen.  There are 100-year old communities on the West Coast of the US that are crying about the pollution of their drinking water in lakes/rivers/creeks by cesspits.

It's very important to think of the long-term changes we are making to our "back to nature" properties, because others will be affected by what we do long after we are gone.
 
Mark Tudor
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Daniel Ray wrote:I don't think this would function as hoped and wouldn't give the user any great compost for the future. Humanure compost systems are not very difficult, woodchips are easy to locate for cheap or free and greatly increase the amount of compost available after the "rest" period. A read through the humanure handbook by Joe Jenkins will reveal that a properly made pile is not in need of turning so the effort involved is very minimal. Any gardening/permaculture site is going to have a compost pile anyway so why not make it a humanure one? We need to stop thinking of poo as a chore or something that needs to be disposed of, but something that needs to utilized.

http://humanurehandbook.com/



As an added bonus, Joe is releasing the 4th edition of the Humanure Handbook around April, which includes some significant chapter changes. I've used it for months at a time and it is really simple to do.
 
Greg Mamishian
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L. Tims wrote:That's an interesting one, Greg. Kind of like compost tea. Do you add a source of sugar to it to feed the aerobic bacteria? How soon would this be safe to use (not on leaf vegetables or anything like that obviously, but trees and pumpkin plants)?



Nothing needs to be added as we supply all the "food". (lol)
Here's the whole system... from raw sewage to garden hose water.



We use every drop of reclaimed composted water from our sewage to irrigate our fruit trees and grape vines and to keep our fish ponds full. I also pump the sludge off the bottom into buckets and use it as fertilizer. It's exactly the same sludge that I get from the bottoms of our fish ponds when I muck them out.

With this completely sustainable system everything gets reused and nothing goes to "waste'". ;  )

 
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