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Rainwater collection and a composting toilet

 
Posts: 6
Location: Southern Louisiana
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About a year and a half ago we started collecting rainwater to use for everything in the house. Even with two 2,400 gallon stainless steel water tanks we would nearly run out of collected rainwater before the next good rainfall. For that and because the local water system was of poor quality we switched to using a composting toilet. It is amazing how long our rainwater tanks stay close to full now. I never realized how much water you can use just flushing the toilet.
OK, that brought us to what do we do with the composting manure. Urine thinned with water is a good fertilizer, but human manure is not safe. After remembering that my brother had recommended the book "The Humanure Handbook" I looked on Amazon.com and found an e-copy of that book for free. Joseph Jenkins, the author of the book has been composting Humanure successfully for over 30 years. He seems to know what he is talking about. Basically I will start at least two new compost piles that will compost the Humanure and any horse, cow, chicken or whatever manure that I end up with. Make a compost bin using non-treated wood or what I did was to buy some lumber made from plastic. Several lumber companies carry a small amount of plastic lumber. Create a depression in the middle of the compost bin and as you add Humanure in the middle of the bin place some grass/weed clippings around the sides. It helps to have a lawn mower that can capture the waste cuttings like my small battery powered mower does. A small amount of grass clippings should go on top of the Humanure. When that Humanure compost bin is full keep something like chicken wire or hog wire across the top to keep any large wildlife (raccoons, nutria, etc.) from digging into the Humanure. Now use the next Humanure compost bin while the previous one composts for a YEAR.
Read The Humanure Handbook for details on how this method kills toxic compounds like pesticides and herbicides, infection bacteria, bad infectious worms like whip worms, etc. Like discussed on other posts here on Permies, a lot of the cleansing of the compost material is accomplished by the natural high heat within the compost.
I was able to read the free copy of The Humanure Handbook on my cell phone or tablet. It is a very good book with lots of information. I welcome any discussion or advise on this "project."
 
gardener & author
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Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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I'd love to further the discussion,but everything you said was just so right already! Carry on!
 
Posts: 44
Location: Western Washington
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I ran across that book last year and picked up a copy myself. Very good reading.

I ended up using a bucket with a toilet seat on top as a composting toilet and sawdust to cover things with.

Recently I moved across the states and while I can get all of the sawdust I want for free I'm in the process of trying to find non cedar sawdust. For the time I have enough from wood working but I'll be a lot happier once I track down a non-cedar mill looking to get rid of it.

Anywise, just wanted to note that the bucket + sawdust (or even dirt) method works quite well for those without the cash for a composting toilet.
 
gardener
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Tony, why non cedar?
 
pollinator
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Location: Gulf Islands, Canada
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wayne fajkus wrote:Tony, why non cedar?



If I had to guess, cedar doesn't compost well. I've popped open other people's black compost barrels (you know the ones) and they were solid black compost all the way through, aside from some totally non-decomposed cedar branches and roots. At this point I'll compost any biodegradable material that comes onto my property EXCEPT cedar, which gets dried out and used as fuel for the wood stove.
 
pollinator
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Bobby, or anyone who feels competent to answer,

I have followed the humanure topic for years.  While I don’t see myself going down this route any time soon, I love the ethic that human waste is not waste unless it is wasted.  But I know that humanure comes with its own challenges and can’t be applied like other manures.

So I have wondered if humanure could be more easily applied to non-food crops.  The first that comes to mind are non-fruit bearing trees.  What about native grasses away from watersheds?  Could humanure be used as a supplement for green manure crops (comfrey maybe, some other nitrogen hungry crop)?

These are just ideas and I am basically thinking about any way of using human waste without having to keep it separate and compost for a full year.  I have absolutely no problem using well treated human waste, I was just thinking of the significant time commitment.

Thanks in advance for anyone willing to entertain this question,

Eric
 
pollinator
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I like to view it as, what type of humanure would I like to import onsite form other people. How would they have to treat that humanure for me to maybe accept it

My views is that my own humanure is personally fine for me no matter how much worms it has because I am already infected with it. I think that even the E.Coli in it is fine for me to ingest because I am already infected with them. And the pharmaceutical metabolites in it that came from my body is fine for me because. I am already taking it.

It is only bad because I am passing those bad microbes and chemical down to someone else. My neighbor via a fly or well or stream or animal/insect or maybe a visitor that comes and visit that now catches my "bad/new" microbes/chemicals.  There is also the fact that when someone comes and visit and deposit some new microbes/parasite/chemical and then leave it might have a negative effect on me. And if my renting neighbor nextdoor is also composting his humanure. Who knows what I might be exposed to.

So back to what type of humanure would I accept. I would want them to treat it with EM&worms. Then I would want them to get the temp up to 140 for at least 3days to kill parasites and their eggs (solar/flame/hot composting).
Before the heat treatment I would want it "quarantine" so as not to have critters or water flow to spread stuff. Then I would want to use mushroom to breakdown pharmaceuticals. It is only after these steps that I would want to use someones else humanure on my orchard/garden. It is possible that I need to use more than just mushroom for that last step. maybe mushroom+EM+non-edible trees and then finally it can join the garden/orchard/children play area.
 
Posts: 89
Location: Missouri Ozarks
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We've been doing the humanure thing for 5-6 years now and we had the most awesome looking tomato plant come out of a previous year's pile. No wilt or other problems and even though it was mostly shaded there, it did produce tomatoes. I couldn't bring myself to try one though as I never have gotten around to getting a compost thermometer so I don't really know how hot the pile got, aside from the heat felt when giving it a stir to dump another load. I also haven't used it in our garden. I've been putting it around trees but a couple of those trees died, presumably because they were native trees and the overload of nitrogen killed them but they were also understory trees that were seeing a lot more sun due to me clearing trees around them, so that may have caused it too.

We do have a peach tree so I might try a little around that this year. Two of the piles are in a spot that is now a god pen and I must say, one dog just loves to lay on top of the piles. Nice and cushy I guess and maybe he likes the earthy smell. It's not due to warmth as the piles no longer gets hot.

I need to get a couple of compost thermometers this year. Even then, being that the piles never get turned, I wonder about the stuff around the outsides. I suppose one could turn them at the right time and not raise too much of a stink.
 
That feels good. Thanks. Here's a tiny ad:
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https://permies.com/t/125100/dry-stack-step
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