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H3-- Humanure Hugel Hybrid?

 
Jeff Marchand
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Location: Eastern Ontario
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I've been humanuring for 3 years now a la Joe Jenkins. I have a 2 year old pile now that is in the process of curing. I use old wooden pallets for walls. I was looking at it the other day and realized that if it was in my garden it would be the start of an excellent hugel, all I would need to do is add logs to the side and cover with dirt. I would have a very fertile hugel.

The most labour intensive aspect of humanuring is the spreading of the end product. Even Joe Jenkins admits that in his book. With an H3 there is no spreading. you'd leave it there to decay and feed the plants. It would take FOREVER to build massive hugels with a family's output, but I dont see why one of your hugels could nt be an H3. My next humanure pile will be in my garden and the start of a H3. Has anyone ever done this ? Does it sound crazy?
 
John Polk
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I would think that an easy way would be to dig a hugle trench. As each section gets about 1/2 full of manure/straw, top it with logs & soil. Just keep working your way down the trench until you reach the end, and then dig a new trench elsewhere to start over again.

You want the manure well ripened - at least 2 years - but this 2 year period could be a nursery for nitrogen fixing trees/bushes, comfrey, or other plants that were not meant for human consumption. Your manure would be growing large amounts of biomass that serve other purposes on your property. While you were minimizing the labor input, you would also be maximizing the beneficial output at the same time.

 
mark andrews
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Ok, so I got stuck at the part where your next humanure pile will be in your garden.

If the sides are made of pallets and you get a good rain, won't you have raw sewage overflowing into your garden--at least on a microbial level?

 
Jeff Marchand
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Mark, what I had in mind was pilling up the usual woody hugel culture woody material around the edges of my humanure pile and plant in a cover crop and leave until humanure has safely cured.which as John says is two years after the last humanure contribution. That material should capture any pathogen that might escape from the main pile. Also all humanrure piles should have a thick bed of old leaves or straw at the base to act as sponge.

John, that would work except I doubt the compost would heat up enough to to cook off any pathogens if spread out that way. Also in my climate the trenches would fill with snow in the winter.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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If you plan to do this, I would say you definitely should put wood UNDER and surrounding the pile, not just around the edges. The whole idea of the hugulkultur is that the woody material will be the sink for the nutrients. If I was going to build it for you, I would lay down a double layer of cardboard, and then several rafts of logs (at least two, in opposite directions), with the cracks packed with leaves and straw, and mud. Then put a log cabin of logs on it a few courses up to contain the pile on top. And then, in the middle where the pile will go, put a pile of rotting wood six inches minimum, followed by a pile of leaves and straw. Before you begin to use the facility, I would advise dividing some comfrey roots and planting them around the circumference of the platform to suck up anything that escapes containment of the curing process. A double ring of comfrey would be a good assurance. Mullin would be a good idea for what it provides. You could chop some of it, and the comfrey, to toss on your pile, or plan to use as wipe, as you go. Then start your pile. As your pile grows, throw in chunks of wood, and cover with carbonaceous material, while allowing any plant that grows in it to be there. When the pile is done, bury it in chunks of wood, and then cover it with a good one foot layer of soil and plants... perhaps non-edible flowers. Plant a non edible tree on the top of it, or fill the whole bed with coppiced willows for rocket fuel.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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John Polk wrote:I would think that an easy way would be to dig a hugle trench. As each section gets about 1/2 full of manure/straw, top it with logs & soil. Just keep working your way down the trench until you reach the end, and then dig a new trench elsewhere to start over again.

You want the manure well ripened - at least 2 years - but this 2 year period could be a nursery for nitrogen fixing trees/bushes, comfrey, or other plants that were not meant for human consumption. Your manure would be growing large amounts of biomass that serve other purposes on your property. While you were minimizing the labor input, you would also be maximizing the beneficial output at the same time.



I'd have to disagree with you on this one John. As Jeff pointed out, there would be no composting going on unless the pile is of compost size, and having humanure on the bottom of a trench reeks of human fecal coliform in the groundwater, and in the flow of pathogens into the microbial/earthworm/fungal activity nearby. The structure that I proposed may be a bit of labor but any redundancies for disease preventing hygiene will be worth the investment, particularly if the hugul is used over a year or two, or three. If the hugul is to be in a garden site, it should be sure to be as self contained as possible during the ripening process, particularly for the first layers.
 
Jeff Marchand
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Roberto, I wont be going to all the trouble you are advocating .

I cant explain Joe Jenkin's Humanure composting techniques in a forum post. I recommend you give his book a read. You can get in online for free here: http://humanurehandbook.com/contents.html It will put your feco fears to rest. Bottom line is humanure if disposed of improperly is a disease vector, but when composted at high temperature and left to cure for a year, its safe to use on your veggies. If like me you cant be bothered to spend $100 on a compost thermometer and record your compost temp then let it sit another year and its safe for your vegetables . Essentially if after two years your humanure and the sawdust you mixed it with looks like the most lovely compost you have ever seen then its safe.


What I am talking about is following the book to the letter. Pooping and peeing in a bucket cover with sawdust with each deposit. When bucket is full dump in compost then cover with leaves, garden waste or straw. Repeat until your 4x4 compost bin is full. Take a foot or so of ground around your composter out of production. This foot will catch any humanure that might wash out of pallets. Maybe plant a nitrofixer like clover. The book says let sit for 1 or 2 years after last bucket then spread on garden. This is where we could do something different. Start a second compost pile beside the first one begin filling it- takes about 1 year . Once the second bin is full you now have an 8x4X4 humanure compost pile. Get 3 more palets and start your third humanure bin and start filling it. BUT as you are filling the third bin start piling woody debris over your planted clover and cover them and the top of your humanure pile with dirt just as you would a Hugel. Then plant non-root vegies in it until you feel comfortable eating a potatoe that grew in what was your sht .
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I have read the book. It's been a while though, and I'll admit I could use a refresher. I've humanured before, but we were growing bamboo with it in Arizona. For me, humanure is a little too close to home if you know what I mean. I like to close the loops in different ways. I'm a pretty wild permaculture kinda freak, but I figure I can make compost for the garden out of veg material that I produce or gather. Not that I consider it freaky, it's just I'd rather take extra precautions with that sort of thing, is all. It's a personal thing. So I'd say, anyway, go for it, dude, you are not crazy or anything, as you questioned at the end of your original post. Your bang on, if that's what you want and believe for you. Hugul away, and enjoy the veggies!
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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