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tree bog vs. dry outhouse  RSS feed

 
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What about integrating the willow bog and the dry outhouse.  Have your outhouse in the center with dry dirt under it.  Surround that with willows, and let them go to work. 

I am still confused on the separation of pee and poo.  Is that necessary if there is no plan of using pee in fertilizer? 
 
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I know western red cedar can suck up whatever you give it but fast growing wood is lower quality.Id aim for a nut tree or something that can take that good stuff and turn it into something usefull.Not that willows are not usefull but how many baskets do we need folks?
  I will attempt to describe my method of waste disposal.First off,I have sandy soil(very fine grained so nutrient loss to rain is minnimal.If the sand was of a larger size then I would be worried about contaminating my ground water).I call this the square foot shitting method.I use a square shovel to dig a cube of sod up.I squat and shit in,say,the SW corner.The next hole is dug to the east of the previous hole and I shit in the SW corner again.After a row,I dig the next row to the North of the previous row.I am never digging next to my shit.I only make contact with the N and E sides of shit in holes and therfore,never make contact with the SW corners where the shit is.Because the holes are really only 8-10" wide(5-8"deep),it takes me about a year to cover 300sq.ft.
  Personally,I really dislike septic systems.Shit is a precious commodity,not something to just hide away or get rid of.Septic systems require the water intensive lifestyle that passes for normal these days.What about completing the cycle of nutrients folks?Out houses are worse.Because the shit is centralized it becomes a pollutent.Parasites can live longer in the critical mass and bacteria and worms have a hard time soo deep.Plus its closer to the water table.The composting meathod is GROSS!I do not want to clean out a bucket(esp. since I lack running water)!Squating to shit is soo good for you that the health food store sells plastic stools that fit under the toilet to use to immitate squating.
  So before you freak out laidies,let me remind you that you dont have to seperate anything this way because its all decentralized enough.I have been using this meathod for 9yrs.My wife at the time used this method for 7 yrs and did not cite this as a reason for our seperation.My land mate has been using this method for 10+yrs. He digs deeper holes and uses them up to 10 times before moving on.Oh yea...did I mention he's 69!.His sometimes girlfriend just spent the last two months using it with no complaints.
  In the winter its nice to have a couple of deep holes pre dug to avoid the frozen ground and Id use the bucket method for a preagnant wife or in the winter but otherwise I love this method!
 
Matt Ferrall
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Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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Oh yea,I almost fogot my joke that went with that last post.This winter I failed to pre dig any holes and we got 3-4 ft standing snow(6ft fell!).Well now I know where the term"I'll deal with this shit later"came from.I'm definitely going to do more research on a bucket system(probably without the compost component as nature has proven itself quite capable of such things.
  Also,when I dig in an area used before,I cant find any trace of anything after 6months(perhaps more in the winter).I turn the sod over when I'm done so I know where I've been and the ground is now cultivated and I plant above ground crops on the now cultivated soil.
 
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"Personally,I really dislike septic systems.Shit is a precious commodity,not something to just hide away or get rid of.Septic systems require the water intensive lifestyle that passes for normal these days."

it does use water. but you can even re use the water for flushing in an aerobic system!  but I don't think growing grass is a waste either!  you could see the rich green grass all through the dry season where the lateral lines went on my traditional system and my aerobic. it  becomes and excellent food source in the end. meat or eggs or milk for me. there are some things I would change about a traditional septic system and even my aerobic system, to make it more usable but still I think the basic idea is the best yet.




..... just because you don't have an active hand in the disposal of your waste ( besides pushing a handle)doesn't mean it can't be put to use! I am fan of any passive or semi passive system that requires less work so that I can move on to things that do require work. I guess I just need to stop looking at this thread 'cause I just don't get it
I'll just stay inside and patch up holes in jeans or preserve the food I make while you guys go dig holes to shit in. 
 
Steve Nicolini
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I like this square foot thing.  Questions though.  How deep do you dig each hole?  Do you cover it with sod after, or something else? 

What about combining the square foot shitting with the tree bog? 

In Willow's defense, it is much more than a basket tree.  It is used as the drill and/or hearth for starting friction fires.  It is a great fish smoking wood.  It is used to make snowshoes, spoons, small frames, knitting needles, fishing poles, rope (nets, lashings, etc.).  Bark used to make mats, bags, blankets and more.  Useful?

That is good info on cedar though.  And I have heard that squatting is the best way to shit and prevent large intestinal backup.  I read that in "The Last American Man".
 
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Let us know how well it actually works, okay?

Sue
 
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Hmmm... not what I expected to see:  http://images.google.com/images?q=treebog&rls=com.microsoft:en-us&oe=UTF-8&startIndex=&startPage=1&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi

I thought it would be in the ground more.  I guess I read too much into how this went from buckets to dry outhouse to tree bog...

Interesting.

 
master steward
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Mt.goat (Matt?)

Your system makes me squeemish. 

As we talk about the dry outhouse vs. the tree bog, we have concerns about how much particulate might find its way into the ground water. 

If we were to assign a value to this, say "x", then I would guess that the dry outhouse with some pee would be "x".  And I think that a tree bog would be about 2x.  And I think a dry outhouse with a pee diverter surrounded by a tree bog would be about 0.3x.

(this is just me making up numbers based on my guesses of knowledge so far)

A traditional outhouse would be 10x.  The roof would divert the rain, but the pee would carry it down.

And I would think that your technique would be about 10x.  Less pee, but the rain would carry it down.

By burying it, you do have an improvement over any outhouse system or tree bog system in that flies cannot land on poop and then come land on your food. 

So you have a big plus in your system.  And, in my obnoxious opinion, a big minus. 

But ... I'm certainly no expert and none of this is proven fact.  More like a concern.


 
Steve Nicolini
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What about toilet paper in the bog?  Would you use an alternative, or a biodegradable paper?  I have folded sword ferns up and used them.  Also Doug Fir cones have these little mouse ears on them, they work pretty good... if you wipe the right direction!

Would you dig your hole as deep as the willow's roots go down?
 
paul wheaton
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I would think that  for a tree bog, you would drop your waste right on the surface - that way you have the best chance of it hitting the most roots as possible. 
 
Matt Ferrall
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Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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As far as saving time goes....Breifly-I bought 23ac in 97 for 40k in rural PNW.After investing another 30-40k in infrastructure and plants I have a "house" and a great garden.I was able to pay this off in 10yrs.(actually its much more complicated than this but this aproximates it).I never got electricity or running water.Anyway by the age of 32 I was pretty much retired and get to wake up most days and say"what do I WANT to do today".My peers who bought homes(median price 180k)seem to all still have jobs.My point being that septic systems do not save time(at least in my reality).Even with 3rd world labor and subsidised oil,its still over what I'm willing to sacrifice.I have a hard time feeling sorry for people who are being forclosed on for trying to afford wants instead of needs.I DO feel sorry for them because the government wont allow true low cost housing(no electricity,septic etc.).
    I should also mention that my 69 yr old land mate uses moss for tp(one ups me on that one!)and he learned it from a couple on orcas island who have been shitting this way for 20+yrs and the man is in his 80s,the woman in her 60s so the women and children card is not universal.His style of digging deeper holes and moving down "runways" is close to the tree bog.His runways are only 2ft wide with cedars and vinemaple on either side to absorb runoff.
    In the sq.ft.method;each hole has the sod put back in it upside down to clearly deliniate it as well as cultivating the soil and leaving it ready to plant.By beeting kale seed staulks on the ground beforehand it pretty much just comes up in kale.The shit sits about 6"down and I run rows 10-14ft wide with fruit trees on either side to take up leached nutrients.Id have to dig up a garden bed anyway for kale soo...Stakin' funkshuns Ya'all!
    I am able to recognise areas in the landscape that need added fertility and directly apply it.Because its all going on in the upper layers of the soil,it is quickly digested in an enviroment uniqely suited to absorb and utilise it.
    Steve,I agree that willow is very usefull.In my own landscape I consider it a zone 5plant.As in"I'm going to the river/swamp to get willow rodS"Sorry I dissed it.I know I can be obnoxious also sometimes and also lack a computer so forgive the delay in posts.Paul-nice smack down.I always get a chuckle when I venture out into civilization and think about how all these so called" clean" people share butt germs and get to clean toilets and wake up in the morning to pubic hairs highlighted by white porsalin.Different strokes for different folks but I'll take a changing view of raw nature over the same piece of drywall anyday!
 
Susan Monroe
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Mt. Goat, I think there's a lot of wishful thinking in your system.

You're not really dealing with nitrate runoff or any possible pathogens.

Nitrogen that hasn't been incorporated into the soil keeps going down.  If you add chemical or organic fertilizer in fall or winter, most of the nitrogen would wash out (and down) until it hits a natural water source. In this weather, it's not composting fast enough, and even if it was, it would still be washing down, esp if your soil wasn't minerally balanced.  And even in a well-balanced soil, nitrogen is going to wash out.  If you took a soil sample of your 'fertilized' soil before the rains started in fall, and another from the same close area in spring, you would have a good drop in the nitrogen levels.  And it doesn't just evaporate, it goes into the water sources, whatever type it may be, the same as happens to the chemical farmers and feedlots.

There is a place in MA that used to be a livery stable.  It hasn't been a livery stable for over 50 years, and it is STILL washing nitrates into the water table.

You're ignoring pathogens completely.  So you don't have any, fine.  Do you have guests?  Do you have them provide a health certificate before they poop on your property?

Pathogens don't just rot.  They just spread.  You've heard of Giardia, which every mammal can get, and pass along.  It sits in puddles and the next animal to drink gets it.  If you happened to drink from a river or stream that was contaminated with it (very common), you've got it, and you're adding it to your soil, and there it will lurk.

Pathogens need heat or chemicals to die, and you're not providing either.  The bucket method, with the contents added to the center of an active compost pile, will kill pathogens. 

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), complete pathogen destruction is guaranteed by arriving at a temperature of 62C (143.6F) for one hour, 50C (122F) for one day, 46C (114.8F) for one week or 43C (109.4F) for one month.

Your little deposit areas aren't getting anywhere near any of those temperatures.

Sue

 
Susan Monroe
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Actually, the more I read about the tree bog, the more uncomfortable I feel about them.  All the directions that I've found for tree bogs indicate that you put the 'deposits' on top of the soil, surrounded by a kind of fence.  All it seems to be is an open manure pile.

Wikipedia also has an article on it, and it does say this:

"Under heavy usage it is advisable, once a week, to add a fine layer of non-chemically treated wood sawdust/wood chips, shredded newspaper or straw. Half a cup of dried soil and/or wood ash helps prevent odour if added every other day. It is also advisable to occasionally level the heap with a pole."

To tell the truth, it seems to me to have all the disadvantages of a composting toilet with none of the advantages.  Why not install a homemade composting toilet and plant willows around three sides of it?  If the willows actually do remove the bulk, it would prevent buildup and you might never need to empty it.

Back to the tree bog, there is no mention of dealing with insects, other than adding 'half a cup of soil or ashes every other day'. 

As to pathogens, who knows?  They might be limited to the area within the willows, and as long as other animals don't have access, it might be all right.  The center will heat up enough to kill pathogens, but the sides won't.  Not perfect, not really safe, but possibly adequate.

Personally, I think the idea needs work.

Sue
 
paul wheaton
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I think there are reasons to be concerned, but I don't agree with your reasons Sue.  Or, at least, I'm not nearly as concerned as you.

As for sawdust - I think there should be plenty used all the time.  If you can smell anything, you aren't using enough sawdust.

I would use no wood ash or lime.

And I wouldn't mess with a pole at all.

What would be the advantages of a composting toilet? 

I can think of disadvantages:  composting toilets need to be emptied.  And they cost lots more to have some sort of poop container.

Insects:  which insects did you have in mind?  Flies?

As for pathogens:  I kinda like the idea that nobody ever touches any of it.  Thus eliminating a lot of pathogen concerns from the top.  The remaining issues are flies landing on stuff not entirely covered by sawdust.  And as for pathogens from below:  the idea is that the willows will consume everything long before it goes into the water supply.  Not entirely, but a very large dent.

This is why I tend to prefer the dry outhouse with pee diverter + tree bog combo. 

 
Susan Monroe
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When I was reading Solviva by Anna Edey, I think she said she had never had to empty it.

But if that's your only objection, why not have a homemade composting toilet with willows planted all around it so their roots can feed off the debris?

The instructions I found said that the platform was built about three feet from the ground.  If the willows absorb all the nutrients, why does it need to be that far off the ground?

I don't know.  It just seems that it's an idea that was thrown out there by some guy, with no real data involved.  Maybe it's fine.  But it's way down on my list.

Sue
 
Matt Ferrall
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OK susan,I understand what your saying from a scientific standpoint.My ex-wife did her masters on nitrogen uptake from various streamside habitats.Small amounts of nitrates would(esp. in the winter)end up in the ground water.It happens any time any creature in nature(besides modern humans)takes a shit.I cant erase my biological impact.
  Something seems weird though.After 10 yrs of relationship with my landscape and the sq.ft method,Ive seen my landscape(not very rich soil) come to life in areas I shit.Its clear to me that my and my landmates shit(1 person per ac. ave)is dramaticaly improving the growth of plants nearby.I use no other outside inputs(compost,animal manure etc..)
    Meanwile,a septic system uses plastic pipes(toxic and toxic to manufacture),Giant prefab containers( with emence embodied energy to  manufacture,deliver,and install),requires running water and all its enviromental baggage.If you want a more ecological one you will have to have electricity and deal with moving parts.The entire edifice requires industrial civilization to create and maintain(ultimatly,many septics fail and become the worst polluters).For all this enviromental destruction,what do we get in return?A patch of lush lawn?What is wrong with this equation?
    Parisites are a good concern.One I dont know too much about.Have any studies been done on how long parisites can live outside their food source in a biologicaly active soil.If the shit is gone in 6 mo.,what do the parisites feed on and what in a living soil will prey on them?
    One thing that makes the sq.ft. method unique is that the shit is decentralized!!!(I relise that this isnt a tree bog or a dry outhouse but hey its in the same genera)Try running a livery stable through your septic for a century or two and get back to me on nitrate run off.Domestic animals like dairy cows are the leading cause of nitrates in our streams because they are centralised.I find it ironic that permies would plant nitrogen fixing plants,import nitrogen rich hay in order to keep nitrogen pooping animals(shiting on shallow rooted grass!) in densities greater than "natural".Always trying to increase available nitrogen yet so concerned about integrating one of the few sustainable 'outside' inputs available to us...our shit!
 
Matt Ferrall
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Before I end this thread I relized I should tie what I'm saying in with the thread theme and that is that I dislike the bog or outhouse because its centralized and that is a root of the waste disposal issue.I hope you dont have dogs(esp.nosey bird dogs)with the tree bog.It is unforunate that a family's waste would all get used on just a few plants instead of the entire landscape.I think the sq.ft. method is very safe parisite wize because the shit is immediately buried with the soil not being dug into for years therafter.
 
 
Susan Monroe
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First off, I want to make it clear that I think septic tanks and sewer systems are one of the worst creations of Man.  And for a civilization (well, sort of) that can put a man in space to keep using them is atrocious.

The main downside I see to your method is the pathogen problem.  I'm sure there are others, but let's use a bacterium called Salmonella enterica serova Typhi (the cause of Typhoid Fever) and Ascarids, or Roundworm.

Just for the sake of supposition, you have a visitor who came from Indonesia and he had had Typhoid, and is a carrier.  He poops in your system during his three-day stay, and leaves.  Then you get a heavy rain and it washes the bacterium into a water source.  Some kid who doesn't know better, drinks water from the stream near his house and ingests some of the bacterium.  He starts getting sick and his mother tends to him.  She works as a waitress and runs off to work without washing her hands properly.

Suppose one of your guests has roundworms.  Once the eggs have sat in the soil for a few days, they become impervious to extremes of weather temperature (like in AZ summers & MN winters).  They will sit happily there in the soil for years, until someone grabs a carrot and just brushes off most of the dirt, or if someone drops and apple and then picks it up and eats it, or if a small child is poking at the soil with her finger to make sowbugs run faster, and there are eggs attached to the carrot, the apple or the finger, and they get ingested.  Or if you track some into the house where the baby is playing on the floor.

The one advantage of composting is the high temperatures which will kill most pathogens. (I'm still not sure about roundworms, which is why I dislike hearing people are adding housepet poop in their compost piles.)

Your square foot toilet isn't getting warm at all.  There's no pathogen decomposition going on. None.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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cholera anyone? how about polio? I agree with sue. except i think that properly operating, installed and maintained septic systems, especially aerobic designs are an enviromentally sound option.  waste treatment systems are not one of the worst creations of man but are actually one of mans saviours, combined with vaccines they have been partially responsible for the reduction in serious disease throughout the world. you know..those places where people used to just shit in a hole? both my grandfathers had polio and were crippled by it. you want to ask them if waste should be treated? although not as freindly a choice as composting systems they do convey some advantages and for me they are a nice compromise.

someone on here...can't remember who... said.."if it stinks your doing it wrong"
I think outhouses  bog or otherwise are going to stink, there is just no way around it. both literally and safetywise. they are great for that far yonder reach of your property or a seldom used campsite and imo. thats it.
 
              
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I like the method mt. goat talks about.  I was actually thinking of doing the same thing.  Now, I do live in a house with flushing toilet and all, but I just want to start becoming more primitive.  I can't imagine going outside in the winter though and practicing such lost arts.  But during the spring, summer, and fall I would like to do that. 

I'm not really sure how big of role parasites play, but since I live on a big farm, there are plenty of places to bury my scat.  I also should note that I eat mulberries for 2 months of the year, and if anyone has eaten alot of that stuff, they know how much seed they have in their poop.  It seems like a waste to just flush it down the toilet, when I could be practically planting a tree with my waste. 
 
paul wheaton
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Oh my!  Who knew this topic could be so exciting!

I think that every system we've talked about here has ups and downs.  There is a situation for each that is optimal. 

There are three factors here:  pathogens getting to you via air (flies usually help), pathogens getting into the water supply and day-to-day hassle.  I'm gonna make up my own scale for these three things so that I can compare this stuff as I see it.  Airborne Pathogens Factor (APF), Waterborne Pathogens Factor (WPF) and Hassle Factor (HF).

I want to use septic systems as the foundation, but I think septic systems have 0 APF.  So I'm gonna say that Septic systems have 1 WPF and 1 HF, but I'm gonna say that an outhouse with lots of sawdust has 1 APF.

Start with septic systems.  A modern septic tank with a drain field.  The obvious down side is the expense.  $10,000 to $30,000?  An obvious perk is that you get to have your toilet indoors.  I think there is room for concern about pathogens getting into the water supply.  But not too much.  WPF 1, HF 1, APF 0.

A standard outhouse without tossing in any sawdust:  WPF 40, APF 20, HF 10.  Expense of about $200.

Standard outhouse with plenty of sawdust:  WPF 5, APF 1 (by definition), HF 10 (add some for dealing with sawdust - take some away for less odor).  Expense of about $210.

Dry outhouse with plenty of sawdust.  Guys pee outside.  Gals pee outside most of the time.  WPF 1 (same as septic system), APF 0.7 (less odor draws less flies), HF 8 (less odor, and peeing outside more acceptable).  Expense of about $210.

Dry outhouse with pee diverter, N hungry trees all around and plenty of sawdust:  WPF 0.1, APF 0.5, HF 7.  Expense of about $250.

Tree bog with no sawdust:  WPF 2, APF 20, HF 10.  Expense of about $200.

Tree bog with lots of sawdust:  WPF 1, APF 1.5, HF 10.  expense of about $210.

Square foot pooping:  WPF 20, APF 0.1, HF 20.  Expense of about $20 (a nice shovel). 

Composting toilet - poop cooker style that has to be regularly emptied:  WPF 0.1, APF 0, HF 1.  Expense is about $1000 to $5000 (??).

Composting toilet - two massive bins, once full, a bin ages, untouched, for a year before being put onto garden and the like.  WPF 0.1, APF (1 if sawdust used, 20 if not), HF (1.5 - 3 if indoors, 7-10 if outdoors).  Expense:  $1000 to $10,000.

Composting toilet - buckets, bins, moving poop, leaving poop, sawdust or not, inside/outside .... so many variables.  I can only make up my wacky numbers if I know what exact system we're talking about.  But once you start handling poop that could contain pathogens - count me out. 

I really like the convenience of an indoor toilet.  Perhaps I'm just spoiled.  Perhaps I need to do some eco growing in this space.

At the same time, I prefer to pee outside. 

And, when working in the field, pooping in a good outhouse is far preferable, to me, than squatting on the ground. 

When exploring the idea of building eco structures, waste management is very important.  And some land does not lend itself well to a drain field.  You might build a fantastic eco house for $6000 and the septic system could then be something like $50,000!  Suddenly that poop cooker doesn't seem so bad. 

Being able to handle 20 interns on your property for the summer?

Have an event that will bring 100 people for three days? 

Surely adding full septic systems for  these events is out. 

So I kinda see having a septic system AND having some alternatives in the long run as optimal (for me).  And I think there are some cases where I could see zero septic system and nothing but alternatives for other properties. 

I think this thread is an excellent exploration of a lot of alternatives and the circumstances that would make them a best fit. 

 
Leah Sattler
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you know it really is an interesting and very fundamental issue that is deserving of lots of attention and scrutiny.

our "modern" aerobic septic system installed in november of 07 was about $6000. Our cost of living is low down here though and maybe the systems are higher in other parts of the country. i watched the installation and it wasnt' rocket science. could be a diy project. and it would be fun to play with a back hoe  damn. I missed my opportunity.
 
paul wheaton
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To be fair, don't forget to add in the costs of getting water to your toilet, the toilet, and then getting the pipe from the toilet to the septic.  you might need to add in the cost of the bathroom in general (excluding the tub and sink) since the outhouse included the door and the walls and all. 

But, yeah, it would be a lot cheaper to do it yourself.  But there is probably a law against it.
 
Steve Nicolini
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Water borne pathogens.  Is there anything that would remove the pathogens from the water?  Something downhill of the bog/outhouse? 

We have a lot of sawdust.  Is the only purpose of sawdust to eliminate odor?  Would it help break down the crap faster? 

How many willows would you have surrounding how many toilets?

How deep a hole would you shit into?  Not below the tree roots, right?
 
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Interesting subject.

Before building the tree bog in close proximity to your house, you might want to read up on willow roots.  When I was a kid a willow tree did a number on my grandparents foundation and all the plumbing going to and from their house. 

A google search for 'willow tree roots' should do the trick.
 
paul wheaton
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Steve,

I think the willows will remove the pathogens as they consume the N.  But!  not 100.00%

Sawdust is gonna eliminate the odor, help dry things out, and help with the composting.  It will not break the crap down faster - it will actually slow it some - and speed it some at the same time. 

The high carbon of the sawdust will absorb N and, in sawdust pockets, will slow the composting. 

The sawdust will maintain air pockets that will help to keep the system an aerobic composting system, which will help the compost compost faster (hotter).

How many willows:  I would think two would be plenty.  If you did more, it would work out just fine. 

How deep a hole:  It depends on what technique you are gonna use.  A tree bog would be no hole.  A dry outhouse could have any size hole.  The depth would depend on a lot of things. 

 
paul wheaton
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Ben Souther wrote:

Before building the tree bog in close proximity to your house, you might want to read up on willow roots. 



I think damn near any tree would do that. 

In this case, I imagine putting "the structure" (whether an outhouse, or something similar for a tree bog) on skids.  So if for any reason you wanted to move it to a different spot, you could.  And if the tree roots started shifting everything around under the structure - no big deal.


 
Ben Souther
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I think any tree would too.
From what I hear though, willows are particularly bad and should not be planted close to houses.

The aggressiveness of their rooting system that makes them bad for foundations and plumbing is probably the same attribute that makes them great for bogs.

I'm learning that Poplars should also not be planted near a house, for this reason, and because they have short lifespans and don't tend to die standing up. I have four right in front of my house.


 
Leah Sattler
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paul wheaton wrote:
To be fair, don't forget to add in the costs of getting water to your toilet, the toilet, and then getting the pipe from the toilet to the septic.  you might need to add in the cost of the bathroom in general (excluding the tub and sink) since the outhouse included the door and the walls and all. 

But, yeah, it would be a lot cheaper to do it yourself.  But there is probably a law against it.



we looked into doing it our selves. it is legal as long as you get it inspected. our neighbors did theirs we think. we know they at least did the backhoe work themselves. of course there is the cost of the actual facilities. most of that can be salvaged. pvc pipe is pretty cheap. their are toilets,sinks and tubs on craigslist all the time. if you were willing to put the work in you could probably to poured in place concrete chambers. there is a total 4 chambers in ours including the original septic tank which they reccomended we use to extend the life and ability of the system.
 
Matt Ferrall
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I think its important to recognise that saw dust takes alot of energy to produce.I relise that it currently(in our industrial society)is a waste product but hawking its use as some sort of solution seems akin to saying dumpster diving is a solution to our food needs.While  living off the waste stream is probably permaculture,we should also look for solutions that are gonna be doable without societal excess.More permanent solutions perhaps?
  Ok,I get that parasites might be an issue in more organic humanure systems.While the composting model does heat stuff up,you still have to clean the bucket so it seems like if parasites were present,then the bucket issue might be a bigger risk as a vector.The book Farmers of 40 Centuries looks as late 19th century china.Raw sewage was collected from the citys and brought short distances away to farms where it was unloaded directly into the fields.This is why traditional asian foods are often cooked with less emphases on fresh vegetables.Now this model is less than desirable to me but its probably the only example ive seen of a sustainable civilization.Some how this civilization thrived just fine.Its easy to find examples from HISTORY of disease and epidemics and missery.Civilization looks to its own past of suffering as proof of its success.Look!we solved the problem we created to begin with!Some how I doubt people getting polio were getting it from living primitively and shitting in holes in the forest garden.Pre-historical lifeways are overlooked or missrepresented.Not that they were ideal either.But civilizations solutions often come at a cost.This cost is often hidden just beyond our ability to percieve it(until its discovered in the future...oops!)So...ok...their is a potential to get a parisite from shitting in holes.But this we know for sure;the manufacture of the plastic components used in septic systems causes CANCER!Of course proving that the septic pieces you buy and support are directly linked to a case of cancer is imposible so hey your off the hook as far as responsibility goes.At least in system logic.Oddly,people into buying local have a fit when you propose building plastic manufacturing facilities near them.I guess my point is that septic looks enviromentaly ok because the ecological costs are dilluted and un trackable.
  As for hosting big groups with the shitting in holes method;Its not easy.We had a party of 60 with people camping over once.I put up a clear sighn with instructions and 4 shovels.Well some people kept their shovels with them and so we had none available and all the toilet paper got swiped too.In the morning people were wandering around all confused about what to do(silly city folk-use a stick and some moss already!)So an outhouse is probably neccesary for that like the Bullocks use during a permie course.Generally,I just send folks out to the "back 40"with some Tp and a shovel.This summer I found one shitter hole had been dug in my garden by a guest in a group of 10.It was real funny cause I discovered it during the tour and it was all I could do to not comment but I didnt want to embarass anyone.I just saw it as a testament to how well my garden mimmicked the natural landscape.
  One more tidbit.After talking with some neighbors down the road,I discovered that they have really gotten into the cat-hole model(basically the sq ft method,but its more random).I was suprised because they have clay soils but even the kids like it better then the 500ft walk to the community composting toilet.They also have a somewhat portble outhouse that they move every few yrs.This year it got full and they havnt had time to dig another so the cat-hole model is just the default.With the snow they switched to buckets to be buried later.So being adaptable is key.Oh yea,the family of four includes two daughters age 14 and 7.The 14yr old has a hard time getting her friends to spend the night but other that that they have no complaints.
 
pollinator
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this was one of the funniest threads I have read on here so far (3 days)..being a woman and almost 58 ..a little more than mid 40's..I'm lucky if i make it to the disposal area let alone try to sort out my wet and dry (did I say dry???) refuse??

and a little for the ancients..in jolly old england..downtown..they used to throw the contents of their buckets out in the street..heads up..plague anyone?? Think if the choice is throwing it out the window and a flush toilet, the flush toilet will win in the end.

And then there was the talk of 17 degrees..guess you don't live in Michigan..this morning when I got up it was 1 degree above 0 F and this was a warm morning for this winter..generally it has been about 15 below 0 F..we have wiillows all over..all kinds..mostly wild ones as we have a super high water table in some areas..however..in the spring we can have water standing nearly a foot deep when the snow melts and the ground is still frozen..so add all of that to your figuring and you have a real mess..and be thankful you don't live in Michigan
 
Leah Sattler
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this has got to be in the top ten  threads for sure ronbre! I think we all have our positions and we just won't budge. i won't at least. 

being the mother of a small child sometimes the only alone time I have is sitting comfy cozy on my potty and even that is rare.......I'm not trading it for an outhouse or a hole anytime soon.
 
Jeremy Bunag
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I wonder how this works:  http://www.biogroupusa.com/Consumer.htm (about halfway down).  Can the biobags contain the urine?

Easier cleaning than the bucket, at least.
 
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This came through on the permaculture e-mail list, so you might have already seen it, though I thought it worth posting here - interesting work these gals are doing in Haiti with composting toilets.

http://video.nytimes.com/video/2009/03/28/opinion/1194838983811/american-ingenuity-in-haiti.html
 
paul wheaton
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With choppy internet today, that took a looooong time to watch.

But!  I guess the important part is that they separate the pee from the poop!

 
                                
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Really, the easiest way is to pee/dump into a bucket 1/3 filled with damp sawdust. My family adopted this practice while I was renovating the bathroom (we were without the bathroom for ~3 weeks). Put a scoop of fresh sawdust over it each time. The sawdust has a pleasant scent. No foul smell at all. The bucket was changed ~2 days. Perhaps I am lazy, but I never bothered washing off streaks. Just threw in plenty of shavings/sawdust.

Dump it out on your compost. Lovely green peppers the next year yummy.

I was kinda sad when I finally got the cistern plumbed in and heard its first filling.

Initially I was a bit apprehensive since I have a household of 3 girls. But they took to it without any complaining. I guess girls are made of tougher stuff than us boys.

What I am trying to say, is that people do get a little tied up over simple matters. Bucket, sawdust, compost, recycle. Its that simple.

No need to separate out pee, no need for intricate toilet bowl design, cast-iron control over your autonomic nervous system, or waste your fertilizer on a willow, or take a midnight stroll.

All the best,

Thomas,
SC


 
paul wheaton
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Well, with lots of sawdust, that should keep the smell down. 

And in your compost ... 

Well, I suppose this could all work out okay depending on a lot of factors.  And with other factors, it could be ... less than optimal.

I would guess that this would rate almost identically with Matt's system.  Zero (or very low) airborne issues.  Higher in convenience than Matt's system.  Waterborne issues would depend on whether the compost pile was covered in some way.

Rather than mixing it in with my regular compost, I think I would opt for the container composting combined with the one year wait.  Just to be sure.  But I still wouldn't want the job of emptying the bucket.  And I really wouldn't want to push that job to anybody.    But that could just be my own weirdness in this space.

I think this is the first time I've heard of somebody tossing this stuff into their regular compost pile.


 
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Hi everyone, I'm new to the forum, so sorry for coming to this thread late. 

What about a willow holt?   I'm growing 7 varieties, cutting them back every winter, and finding a lot of uses for them around the place.  Haven't made any furniture yet but have the how-to books.   If you leave a 12" "stump" it grows larger in circumference every year and looks quite artistic  and/or grotesque in the winter landscape.   Even though you are cutting them back every year, the root systems are expanding, so they should be just as eager to eat the poop as 1 or 2 trees.   Plant them 18' apart in any shape you want.     Lots of uses for the 6' straight rods.   OR I just had another thought,  you could let them grow and weave them together as a living fence.

Also check out Larry's solar composting toilet.   He's in the temperate rain forest of nahcotta washington, so lots of cloudy weather, but it seems to work great.
http://www.solartoilet.com/  
 
paul wheaton
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Is a "willow holt" like a "tree bog"?

Do your willows continue to consume in the winter?

 
gary gregory
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paul wheaton wrote:
Is a "willow holt" like a "tree bog"?

Do your willows continue to consume in the winter?




http://www.stives-town.info/album/detail.asp?GetAPicID=229


  I guess holt is the old english term for basket willow garden.   A fellow permie gave me 7 different varities of salix a few years ago, [12" rods], I planted them about 18" apart in rows 36" apart and I planted more rods every year and now have about 200 trees.  At that spacing the roots should be a thick mat, probably like alder grows in the pacific nw.   They do lose their leaves in our cold winters here, so there would still be the problem of consuming in the winter.  I was thinking more about aesthetics and multiple purpose uses.  Trying to post a photo,but haven't figured it out.
    Gary


 
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