Need help in an urban desert, but fir...

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Composting Around the World: Need help in an urban desert, but first...
Author: Showmemrs (Showmemrs)
Wednesday, March 10, 2010 - 7:50 pm
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Acacia, How's the composting going?

I have a question... how do you, a single woman, fill a 5 gallon bucket in 5 days? It takes me 2 weeks! Maybe you use too much cover material along with all urine? And yes the buckets get heavy when filled so I use a separate bucket for most urine, actually a 2 gallon jug. then it is emptied on the pile. sometimes I put it on the dogs pile.

If you will not be food gardening the cats manure can be added to your pile, otherwise not.

If you can get more buckets with lids it would be better to store up 2 buckets and only interrupt the microbial work of the pile every second week or so. Larger amounts at a time seem to heat up better. Also sunning and airing out time helps stinky buckets! So an extra bucket always fresh to be brought in on dumping day is nice. =-)

Also do you have worms in the desert? If not can you buy some fishing worms? That would give an assist in the compost breakdown. Red wigglers are what you need.

Humanure compost... It's an adventure... not to mention a big help in water saving. Go Earth!

Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Thursday, February 04, 2010 - 4:20 pm
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Just a few suggestions, for what they are worth, of course making variations according to your circumstances:
First, when looking after a small worm farm, a few years ago, there was a half grapefruit skin, dome upwards on top of the worm bed. I upturned the skin and found it FULL of worms, like spaghetti! Conclusion - the worms will make their own choices. However, if there was a large quantity of citrus skins, I would not add them all at once and would think about letting them pre-rot before adding to the humanure pile.
Secondly, I would be happily adding any cat or dog droppings into the humanure pile.
Thirdly, looking locally to find out what vegetable litter is around under trees or shrubs, and if it is naturally broken down by local organisms, add some of that mulch to my humanure pile. The moisture and nitrogen of the urine will balance the dryness of the mulch.
Finally, shredded paper can be used to wipe off plates, greasy frying pans, etc., before washing them. Add the paper then to the humanure pile. By doing this you can reduce the amount of detergent or soap used. Any small amount of any soap/detergent will then not matter, whether it's "biodegradable" or not. Also dependent on the hardness of water which you are using.
The challenge and success of effective composting is very rewarding in many ways. Wishing you the same.

Author: Demeter (Demeter)
Thursday, February 04, 2010 - 11:22 am
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Acacia, kudos to you for starting this venture. I'm sure you will find the combination that works for you. Joe can be of more help, I'm sure.

Regarding the "biodegradable soap," if you have access to pure lye and oil or fat, you can make your own soap. Lye is usually found in the drain cleaner section of the hardware store or supermarket. There are plenty of sites on the internet with directions on soap making.

Author: Acacia (Acacia)
Thursday, February 04, 2010 - 1:34 am
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let me explain my constraints:
(a) I live in an urban community in the desert,
(b) winter temperatures night/day 50s to mid-70s and 2-3 rainfalls a year,
(c) in a semi detached house with a concrete tile yard surrounded by cinder-block walls.
(d) There is little greenery to speak of and no sawmills, only carpentry shops.
(e) Outside the US (i.e. none of the mechanical options mentioned in posts), and
(f) recycling is in its infancy here, as are bio-degradable soap products.
(g) Because this is a desert the urine ratio is much higher.

I am also a recent widow with few resources and a collapsed sewer system.

Following a link to the Humanure Handbook, it read like the answer to a prayer. But because the e-mail address in the 2nd edition returned a null response, I decided to go ahead and improvise on my own, beginning on January 8th.

Now that I've found your forum I'll take all the help I can get!

Because of its abundance, high carbon rating and air-pockets, I substituted cardboard for hay etc. on the bottom and sides, putting a larger box in the middle to simulate the depression. Also to use available sawdust and shredded office paper for covering, respectively. My neighbors, who do have a tree, are kindly donating their leaves, kitchen scraps and newspapers. I've also managed to collect some storm-wrack and will be able to collect some dirt from a nearby municipal garden overflow.

So far my mistakes have been (a) making the bottom only 6 inches deep, (b) making the sides out of cardboard; and (c) using shredded paper. 'Solved' the seepage by covering with leaves; now have to figure out how to insert scrap wood for the sides. Leaves and dirt replaced shredded paper.

So here are the first three questions:
1. my neighbors make fresh orange juice, but I was told citrus prevents worm growth in a compost pile. What about a humanure pile?
2. Local newspapers use color printing on every page. To use? Or not? (Am NOT using glossy 'chrome' paper, though).
3. The manual says to make deposits once a week. What is the reason? (The large bucket lasted only 5 days, as well as being hard to move around).

Hope you can help me out. Cheers!

P.S. There was definitely some warmth inside when I uncovered to make this morning's deposit! Here's hoping!
P.P.S. I don't have enough time to read through all the posts, but is it possible that cardboard's high carbon content may actually be offset by a higher urine content?
P.P.P.S. Also have several yard cats, but that's for another post!
N.B. Thank the forum for that tip about using vinegar on the buckets!! Should it go into the pile as well?

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