Alternatives to Sawdust for us City f...

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: General Composting Issues: Alternatives to Sawdust for us City folk!
Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Saturday, November 20, 2010 - 3:42 am
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Further question I have for anyone who has the information.
Does anyone have first-hand experience in the use of rice hulls as a substitute for sawdust?
Does it cover well enough? Do you need huge heaps of it? Does it breakdown well in the compost pile? Does it absorb liquid sufficiently to prevent undue leaching?

Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Sunday, October 31, 2010 - 10:51 pm
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I would agree with you, Utopian. There is a tendency to make this composting process a bit too complicated.
If the new-comer is confronted with the thought that what they want to try is going to be too difficult, they will walk away from the idea.
We need to determine what are essential parts of the process, state those clearly, and then introduce possible variables which people can try if they want to.
Across the world, people are trying different variations to suit their particular circumstances, like: sawdust not being available; desert conditions with minimal water supply; arctic or alpine areas; etc., and many other different scenarios. But the basic, essential part of the humanure process will remain unchanged.
That wonderful expression: K.I.S.S. - Keep It Simple, Stupid - is very apt here. We only need to make the conditions right for those microbes to work, then leave them to it.

Author: Utopian (Utopian)
Sunday, October 31, 2010 - 2:37 pm
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No, you do not need to add extra nitrogen. If you are adding both urine and feces to the pile, then that is the only nitrogen source that is needed. There is no need to complicate the simple system that has already been expounded in the Humanure Handbook.

Author: Rich_higgins (Rich_higgins)
Monday, September 20, 2010 - 6:06 pm
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Yes, human solid waste is only 20% nitrogen so you all need to add more nitrogen ie., grass cuttings mixed with dried leaves or straw, or as I do in our Howard Higgins Dry Toilet System use the end product - finished compost - the perfect cover medium, then you get an optimum nitrogenous fertilizer in 30-90 days without having to wait a year. There are a few more details you need to do like thermophilic injection, to enable this process to work effectively.

Author: Rich_higgins (Rich_higgins)
Monday, September 20, 2010 - 5:58 pm
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Hi from Well End Permaculture International, UK
If you actually put some nitrogen down your toilet instead of carbon you will be able to make fertilizer in 30 days , rather than have to wait a year!

Author: Md_heath (Md_heath)
Monday, September 20, 2010 - 3:50 am
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we gather leaves in the neighborhood and crush them with a mortar and pestle sort of set up. if you have a large vessel, (we use 1/2 of a 55 gal steel drum) and a ramming tool (a fence post driver, a wood 2x2, a 1-1/2" steel pipe with a closure plate on the end) you can crush several hundred gallons of leaves in very short order.

Author: Demeter (Demeter)
Friday, October 30, 2009 - 1:06 am
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For the most of the growing season, I use a push mower, too. They are an idea whose time has come again! While I detest the noise and pollution of the power mower, I only use it in the fall to mulch and pulverize the leaves. Half a gallon of of gasoline usually does the whole job, which takes the course of about a month.

Author: Meismeems (Meismeems)
Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 5:12 pm
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Ander, another idea might be to purchase a leaf vacuum that mulches (electric, preferably), then you'll have instant cover material. You could vacuum up the whole neighborhood!

I'm thinking of doing that for our composting endeavors, since we use a pushmower, which doesn't really mulch leaves, but puts no CO2 into the atmosphere. I'm sure it'll be one of our favorite garden toys!

Author: Demeter (Demeter)
Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 11:26 am
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Some people pay hundreds of dollars to join a gym so they can bounce around on a motorized gadget. You will be doing that for free and helping take care of Mother Earth!

Author: Ander (Ander)
Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - 10:55 pm
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Thanks for your imput Demeter!

I don't have a driveway or a lawnmower, but after I wrote this it occurred to me that I could dry them in the greenhouse, which is unused during the winter. I would lay them out on large boards for a few days.

Then, I could put them into garbage bags and just jump on and bang the bags around, which would hopefully crumble them.

As for your estimate of how many bags: that's super helpful. There are five people living in tbhe house, so I should get about 20 or 25 bags of leaves! Alot - but I can do it!

Cheers,
Ander

Author: Demeter (Demeter)
Monday, October 26, 2009 - 5:41 pm
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Ander, I use leaves and they work just fine. I have found that the best way to shred them is on the driveway with the power mower on the mulch setting. The leaves should be dry. Do you have enough sunny days in the fall to have a batch of dry leaves to shred? After 2 years of Humanure practice, I have found that I use about 200 gallons of dried shredded leaves per year. That is for 1 person. While that sounds like a lot, what it amounts to is about 4-50 gallon trash bags of shredded leaves per year. If you have a place to store the leaves, which I do, then you should be ok. You can use unshredded leaves for the outdoor bin. It's better to have more than you need, otherwise you'll have to halt the Humanuring until the next fall.

Author: Ander (Ander)
Saturday, October 24, 2009 - 8:57 pm
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Hi There! I am setting up a humanure system at the shared house I live in, here in rainy Vancouver.

I'm trying to figure out what would be the best cover material for using indoors on the toilet. My roommates are down with having a compost toilet, as long as it's clean and simple to use. So, I think that wet leaves or coffee grinds would not go over well.

Kiln-dried sawdust and shredded paper are easy to get in the city. I have heard that they have no biological activity so aren't good for compost, but if I use lots of leaves and other garden waste on the outdoor pile (and also adding our kitchen wastes) would that work?

Maybe I could dry and crumble leaves during autumn when they are plentiful? Only I would have to do such a large amount to last all year long; I'm not sure how I would dry and process that many leaves!

Thanks in advance for your input! Cheers!
Ander

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