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Urine and woodash

 
pollinator
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In another thread about phosphorous, this came up and I'd like to know more.

If urine and ash are acid and alkaline, would they balance each other out if mixed?

I'm curious about useage because we generate a lot of woodash from our woodburning range that's on about 10 months of the year. In the beginning someone told me that you could just add it to the compost heap so I did with disastrous consequences - lots of killed plants - so now I don't add it.  In fact, I've become scared of it  ops:

We don't have anywhere under cover to keep it so it goes in a pile on a piece of plastic and is covered by another piece of plastic but somehow the rain gets in. Does that render it useless?

Ash - How much to put around trees and when?

Can I add some ash to our composting loo pile? If so, what sort of ratio.  Actually, now that I've written that it's made me think..., can you use ash as a sawdust replacement in a non-separated composting loo (that would be an ideal use if possible).
 
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Location: Germany, 7b-ish
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Mixing urine and woodash is recommended; they supplement each other.
But the woodash is so aggressive - and adding it to your humanure will only increase "spicyness" -
that I'd recommend using both ingredients to speed up the breakdown of something carbon-rich and nutrient-poor,
like of a pile of leaves - just add the stuff lasagna-style.
 
                                          
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Hi,
Do you know the pH of your soil because as wood ash is very alkaline and if you are adding it to an already alkaline soil then that is the problem. We too have a woodburner but it creates very little ash (80+% efficient clean burn). If you are putting wood ash in your compost heap then it has to be in a sprinkled layer, otherwise it becomes a soggy lump much in the way too many grass clippings would, cools down the bin and stops the good bacteria working, in fact I think it actually will kill some of them. You can use it in your compost toilet but again in moderation - it's a bit like alchemy! You could always make lye soap but my idea would be to change your range and get more heat and less waste ash. I actually take the little ash we have to the déchetterie, after sprinkling a little in the compost bin. Best Wishes from Basse-Normandie, Andy
 
Alison Thomas
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hugel, spicy humanure - now there's a thing  Ok, leaves is good as we're in Autumn. Thanks

Organikmechnic - How exciting, you must be perhaps our nearest permies.com person (we're to the north of Pays de La Loire) We're a bit on the acidic side here so no worries on that score. Our woodburner is actually fabulous, an ESSE cooking range that does all our water, cooking, heating (not that the heating bit is usually required here) so it's on 24/7 except once a month for de-ashing (and July/August - though not this year, yucky as it was). We too have very little ash but it's been building up a little pile for 3 years now and I'd love to use it here rather than tip it. I've always been in awe of alchemists - maybe now is my chance to practise being one! I'm off to sprinkle 
 
                                          
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Oh I am jealous! I wanted us to have an Esse because I like the design but in the end we bought a Lincar because of the glass windows for the fire box and oven. Also the Esse can burn pallet wood but we burn it anyway and just have to check the chimney more frequently. We are in the Baie de Mont Saint Michel so we have a micro climate much like Jersey. I created a pallet wood 'hay box' to keep a big pan of water hot so we tend only to light our range at meal times, unless it gets really cold here normally between end of December and end of February. If you are ever up this way come and see us and our poultry. We have our house for sale and will be moving to build an ecohouse near Vannes hopefully, where we will definitely have an Esse!
 
Michael Radelut
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'Esse' means 'fireplace' or 'chimney' btw.
(The British would of course say that it's just an AGA ripoff )
 
pollinator
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we put our wood ash  into metal barrels outside with a metal cover tossed over the top to keep the rain out..we empty the barrels in a low spot at the edge of our woods, and we use it from there..

you should put it on the garden sparingly  and only where alkalinity is needed..you can spread the rest out over any fields or lawn that you have..sparingly, not in clumps...and it will feed your lawn or field quite nicely

 
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I heat my house with wood, so I always have ash. I sprinkle it on the compost pile and topdress all brassicas with it, to repel root maggots.
 
Alison Thomas
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Thank you all for your help.  Oh boy, have our next lot of WWOOFers got a job to do 
 
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So this topic had me going through research papers all weekend as I didn't believe the use it while it fresh mantra as there's no rational other than "new is good old is bad" which didn't hold up. Everyone does it in the summer, but we talk about how much nutrient's we could get over a year then only apply 40% of it over a year if where diligent. Plus it's obvious the solutions of tomorrow are sitting under our nose today, and to get things up to solution proportions time is naturally going to be expanded.

So I went hard on the reports, I was trying to understand the conditions and stages of nitrogen breakdown as much as reconstitution. Just a comparison of sealed container vs open to the air makes such a major difference is losses or gain's it's hard to swallow any overhanded statement's with no backup. One thing I can say about fresh vs converted "old" is the margin of error for the uninitiated.
All this talk about wood ash had me buzzing about what sort of composting behaviors could occur in the urine mixed with what would normaly make lye if put in the wrong amounts in the wrong place. Also knowing how fukuoka described the damage to the spider population from spreading ash dust over the land, I had to wonder if these two combined could collapse the time issue and the flash alkalinity all at once. So more of the mineral's and nutrient's of ash could be put into the soil without the ph blowout and the damage dusting does to the insect population.

Well without regurgitating the details without request the basic gist of aged sealed urine which goes into a amoniacal nitrogen state is it too also becomes highly alkaline making the problem worst. Bacteria convert that unavailable amoniacal nitrogen into nitrites and nitrates just like the basis of the aquaponic's systems, so how do we compost "bacterial activity" the store'd urines nitrogen into the ready plant form as it's original fresh urea loaded urine. We also want to bolster it's nitrogen with the potash and potassium of our wood ash so it's available.

This is where I have my solution but it has it's statistical roadblocks to go through. I thought if I mixed the ash with woodchips dry then added urine as it became available until full, I could bring the ph down and compost the lot anaerobically for a few weeks with a chunk of compost in it to introduce a boost of bacteria. What I don't have is a ph calculator, something I can say 1 pound of ph 4 + 1 pound of ph 11 gives me ph 5 etc... Basicaly I don't know how to multiply logarithm's, has anyone come across an online calculator in this kind of formula. All the ones I find seem to be more concerned with how much ag pro chemical x your have to add per sq ft to get an effect, but where not dealing with soils yet, where trying to brew up an inoculate, the kind of thing you add a cup of to the potting soil mix you can feel confident about like worm compost. 

I remember one experience this summer, I had filled a bucket with hay and rabbit poo stuff to the brim, then I poured urine on it and added water to infuse it into the mulch. As usual I left it for over a week instead of a day, and when I went to apply it, the urine smell was gone and everything smelled lacto fermented, it was like pickled hay with pooballs in it. It wreaked yes, but was nothing like the smell of jug's of urine and water sloshed together.  If it only takes 3 days for a little bit of salt and whey to turn a jar of tomatoes into salsa, I could see the salt in the urine and it's natural breakdown bacteria's having the same effect. 

None of my plant's got mad, and later in the year as the poo fizzled down I did get the most growth I had ever had so far out of my 2 inch deep garden bed over spruce mulch. It turned out to be the biggest yield in the 3 year's we moved here. I can't attribute it to that alone I made compost tea once a month and I added "woodchip" compost to it which isn't great but it turns 2 inches into 4. But for me it was really that nobody died, nothing wigged out, and the soil is no longer hydrophobic. 
I mean I have a past of killing things in 1 leaf spraying, anytime i mess with additives I screw something up terribly. But somehow I put picked mulch everywhere and the worst conditions thrive the best "in spite or because of it"

Adding the carbon via the sawdust is more a way of locking up the goodies so they don't leach. But can it be effective in the battle of ph, as with anything I like knowing going crazy with something can't hurt, all that's at risk is efficiency.

I have never worked with sawdust before just woodchips, and that was a journey into the depth's of compost to break down fresh chipped cedar, pine, and hemlock into soil over the winter. Most of the chips where composted 3 times over just to get blond chips to be black and odorless. This winter I got the rocket stove, the table saw is pouring out the sawdust, rabbit's are pooping up a storm, and I'll pee in anything everytime if I think i'm taking part in a home brew inoculate.


So anyone have any experience with sawdust ph and decomposition that could chime in on the urine wood ash buzzing that's flying through our heads. I don't want to start playing mad alchemist by adding sulfur to the equation to bring the ph down as that's an off system element I can't produce. But is the ph of sawdust low enough to bring the high ph of ash and aged urine back into the realms of 6.5-7?
 
Alison Thomas
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SaybianTv wrote:
If it only takes 3 days for a little bit of salt and whey to turn a jar of tomatoes into salsa, I could see the salt in the urine and it's natural breakdown bacteria's having the same effect. 


Gosh that's interesting about the salsa.  Ever done it?

SaybianTv wrote:
nobody died, nothing wigged out, and the soil is no longer hydrophobic. 
..... and I'll pee in anything everytime if I think i'm taking part in a home brew inoculate.


That made me laugh.  You have good rationale 

Sorry can't help on the other bits of your post though.
 
Saybian Morgan
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Ever done what? lacto fermentation? we do it every two months when groceries come in until we run out of jars. I gotta do a gallon of salsa tonight, the stuff just doesn't last when your eating ferment almost everyday.  So far the blackberry ferment jam sauce was the biggest surprise success, but I just got sick of wasted veggies and perpetual shopping.

I think i'm going to try the pickling of the wood ash, sawdust, rabbit poo and urine. It's not that rabbit poo is a key ingredient it's more of a that's what the sawdust is doing right now. I would use hay in it to but then it's pickled mulch instead of scoopable pickled potting soil additive.
 
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Alison Thomas wrote:In another thread about phosphorous, this came up and I'd like to know more.

If urine and ash are acid and alkaline, would they balance each other out if mixed?

I'm curious about useage because we generate a lot of woodash from our woodburning range that's on about 10 months of the year. In the beginning someone told me that you could just add it to the compost heap so I did with disastrous consequences - lots of killed plants - so now I don't add it.  In fact, I've become scared of it  ops:

We don't have anywhere under cover to keep it so it goes in a pile on a piece of plastic and is covered by another piece of plastic but somehow the rain gets in. Does that render it useless?

Ash - How much to put around trees and when?

Can I add some ash to our composting loo pile? If so, what sort of ratio.  Actually, now that I've written that it's made me think..., can you use ash as a sawdust replacement in a non-separated composting loo (that would be an ideal use if possible).



Dear Alison

I would like to know more about this topic, ie combating high pH ash with horse manure (which has a lot of urine). what were your conclusions, please?
Clive Winbow
Perpignan
 
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Clive, the problem is that urine isn't actually acidic. Stored in some of the easiest ways, it actually becomes very alkaline.

If you poke around various related threads on permies, you'll find a lot of info, and links to sources, about urine and what it converts to if stored, either open or closed, etc.
 
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