Composting on a paved courtyard with ...

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: General Composting Issues: Composting on a paved courtyard with no soil base (plus thankyou letter to Joseph Jenkins)
Author: Emma Holister (Emma_holister)
Sunday, December 14, 2008 - 8:11 am
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Hi Joe, yes, it would seem that the French are leading the way with very stylish avant guarde compost toilets! Those pictures on the Label Verte site are really inspiring aren't they: http://www.labelverte.org/produits/toilettes-seches/ I'd be curious to know where they got that bigger than standard aluminum bucket there in the second loo. My own loo is coming along, I now have the four plastic buckets and will be making a slightly taller than standard version with buckets of about 40cm height rather than 30cm, this so that people who are elderly or disabled will be able to use it. I'll send photos of it once it's made, it will be the first of several, as I need to replace my two loos in my living quarters, and then provide one for my parents as they are now sold on the many advantages of having a compost toilet! As for the courtyard, I've decided to plough ahead with the compost bins and we'll be building a hacienda as soon as possible, because my enquiries with the local agricultural organisations as to humananure composters in the area were getting bogged down, so to speak. I'd rather be in charge of my own compost if at all possible, I'm too curious and passionate about this subject to not become familar with the most important basics. We'll be using your suggestion to put the bins on a slight incline so that they leech into the thin strip of earth at the back of my courtyard. I'll send photos of that too once it's done.

Author: Joe Jenkins (Joe)
Friday, December 05, 2008 - 11:45 pm
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Wow. The French are impressive! Those compost toilets are nice - I had no idea they were that far along with humanure.

Author: Emma Holister (Emma_holister)
Tuesday, December 02, 2008 - 6:19 am
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Joseph J had a great suggestion for the compost problem in my courtyard, to incline it all slightly so that it leaches into the thin strip of soil I have at the back. Also that a small plastic composter can't reach the heats that would pose a risk with the plastic. However, as I'd like to do this properly and keep the thermophiles happy, I'd want to do the bins in wood and the right size (1.6 square) in order to get the right temperatures, which would take up about a quarter of my courtyard. I would do it apart from the fact that my boyfriend and I, as well as my parents, like to eat out in the courtyard in the summer and I'm not convinced the farmyness of the environment would be ideal for our appetites? So now I'm looking for a local company to pick up our compost once a month, from what I've heard there is one in the area, so I've started asking around.

Incidentally, great news on the bucket front (well, sort of) this morning I got contacted by this company selling compost loos - plus the buckets I'm looking for, but they are even more expensive than the ones I'd found in that other store. Still, it's great to see the movement's alive out here, some of the photos of compost loos on this site and in their catalogue are really lovely:

Label Verte

http://www.labelverte.org/produits/toilettes-seches/

Author: Emma Holister (Emma_holister)
Monday, December 01, 2008 - 3:18 pm
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He he, well yes John, on the whole it all looks quite positive out here on the human dejections front...it's happening! However I'm pretty sure from what I've seen so far that the otherwise healthy humanure movement has a bucket problem...looks like we're getting ripped off by industry as usual. In France the customer is most definitely not king (or queen for that matter, I can vouch for that). Anyway, on Wednesday I'll be going on my final haul through as many hardware stores as possible in the hope of finding something appropriate that won't cost me an arm and a leg...and if not, well, my house needs decorating so I'll just get a load of 25 litre buckets of paint (they're perfect....apart from being full of paint that is...).

Author: John D. Seibert (Shush)
Friday, November 28, 2008 - 9:57 pm
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Emma: Recently my Parisian friend wrote back in response to "humanure in France?" "I believe some gardeners (in France) use human dejections for manure." The D word must be French. Creditable, I believe, because we've been friends for 37 years.

Author: Emma Holister (Emma_holister)
Friday, November 28, 2008 - 8:00 am
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Hi Joseph, it's great to hear from you. Well, as you can see from my other post on buckets in the Humanure toilets section, my valiant efforts to do a humanure compost in my paved courtyard are so far proving unsuccessful. The small plastic compost is definitely too small to take the quantity of humanure that my boyfriend and I would produce and the leaching problem on the paved courtyard is also a problem, requiring a well designed drainage system if it were to work. I don't want to give up on this completely though and will continue to at least try to compost my cats' litter trays, being careful to not add too much of the rinse water from them when I wash them, as that is when the compost floods all over the courtyard. Perhaps the lid will prevent moisture evaporation enough to allow the compost to do its thing without this added water....but I'm feeling slightly beaten on this one which makes this rather a sad day for Humanure in France. However, we are absolutely determined to find a piece of land and build a small earthdome house so when that happens I'll be able to reawaken these frustrated passions and throw myself into the life of a humanure composter once more. If the local council had a humanure collection service I'd be able to do this...but we are still a long way from that dreamy day...

Author: Joe Jenkins (Joe)
Thursday, November 27, 2008 - 9:45 pm
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Thanks for the email Emma. I have been traveling and not very accessible to email, but I will respond directly when I get back to my office.

Author: Emma Holister (Emma_holister)
Wednesday, November 26, 2008 - 10:19 am
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Hi all, I just wrote this letter to Joseph Jenkins but got an automated reply saying to post the message on his message board instead, so here it is:

Hi Joseph,
I am an English artist, cartoonist and natural health activist living in the South of France, in a big seven appartment stone house in an old mining town lost in the Cevennes mountains. I have two main websites, one for natural health: www.candida-international.org and one of my general art: www.artmargin.com (soon to be www.art-margin.com) where you can see my natural health cartoons that have been published widely on the net, in natural health magasines and translated into several languages: http://www.artmargin.com/doctoringcolversion.htm. If you want to know more about me here is a recent article by Martin J Walker, 'All Good Comedy', that will go in my upcoming book of cartoons as a preface: http://www.artmargin.com/martinwalkerarticle.html
Well, I am writing to first of all thankyou heartily for a book that has undoubtedly changed my life forever. Living as I do in this huge house with seven toilets (!) and three cats, I have over the years increasingly been suffering from flush toilet phobia and cat litter anxiety. Fantasies of buying a piece of land and constructing a tiny earthdome house have lead me to develop my already ardent desire to liberate myself from the yoke of modern plumbing, to which I have been an unwilling slave these last eight years. Frustrations at not yet having the piece of land and earthdome have not thwarted my passions however, and your book has been the inspiration for me to replace the two flush toilets in my living quarters with sawdust ones.
For many years I have been very upset by the cat litter issue, on the one hand disgusted by the expense, toxicity and waste involved with commercial cat litters, and on the other hand feverishly searching for information about whether it might be possible to compost it, only to be met with dire warnings, admonitions and outright prohibition from all quarters. Now I have read your book I know that I can adventure forth into a new era of cat litter freedom and joy. My current circumstances for effecting these changes both in my and my cats' lives are not perfect because I do not have a garden, just a paved courtyard, but as I live in a town surrounded by miles and miles of forests, sawdust and straw are plentyful. My main challenge has been to find a way to intergrate a composter into my paved courtyard. It has a drain in it that goes through to the mains sewers, so at least it is fairly easy to clean, and I have attached water buts to my gutters and am fortunate to also have a spring well with an old fashioned hand pump that provides plenty of water, although it is sadly ferriginous and therefore not drinkable. So, as you can imagine, all is favorable for this transformation other than the challenge of there being a minimal/non existant access to an earth floor to put the compost onto. There is a long, very thin strip of earth at the back of the courtyard, but this must be for agriculture along with the raised gardens I'm building. Having looked around on the net for solutions to my problem, several sites say to create the base 'sponge' of the compost bin by using twigs and straw but also soil, so that the compost will have the worms and other earth creatures it needs. As for dirty water spilling out the bottom, I can only wait to see how things go. For the time being, as both my boyfriend and I have been overwrought with work lately, we gave into the temptation from the local council to take one of their low budget plastic composters. However, I naturally have reservations about this, because surely the heat generated by the compost will make the plastic give off dioxine gases, no matter how small....I assume that they have thought of this and that the plastic is heat resistant, but that doesn't mean it will be completely invulnurable to the effects of heat. Another thing is that the composter has a lid....I wonder if this might not be a problem? I assumed that compost being left exposed to the elements on the top side was important. I think the reasoning behind their lid is that it might prevent evaporation and that the moisture inside must be added to, what with the urine and the water from washing the buckets and cat litter trays, it may be enough....I don't know, I'm new at this and I can only experiment. So, this small plastic composter was a quick fix solution to tide us over till we build a big double one out of wood.
Anyway, I just wanted to get in touch, say thanks, and hopefully get some feedback on these little questions if you have the time!
Lots of love

Emma Holister
xxx
www.artmargin.com
www.candida-international.org
PS Here's one of my cartoons...
http://www.artmargin.com/Doctoringcolvers/pages/page35.htm

Fish Demo



(Message edited by Emma_Holister on November 26, 2008)

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