Layering/adding stuff to compost pile.

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Composting Around the World: Layering/adding stuff to compost pile.
Author: merridy
Saturday, October 16, 2004 - 5:03 am
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HI, I couldn't find which topic to fit this question into...Have read the book, & started a sawdust toilet, but I can't work out how to get the layering thing happening in the pile - if I always place new material into the centre (in a little hole there), as I read to do, then I end up with all cover materials around the edge of the pile, & all kitchen/toilet waste in the centre?? How do I get layering of deposits & cover material occuring in the centre without fresh waste ending up spilling out the sides?? I know i must have missed something but just can't figure this one out :-)
thanks for the inspiration

Author: admin
Saturday, October 16, 2004 - 4:51 pm
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Lots of cover materials around the edges is good. Toilet material in the center is also good. You should have a 20" thermometer in the center - if it's heating up, you're OK. Don't worry too much about the layering.

Joe Jenkins

Author: Anonymous
Saturday, October 16, 2004 - 6:33 pm
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To admin,
Does the outside protection with cover materials also protect the environment in case of flooding?

Author: Larry
Sunday, October 17, 2004 - 7:57 pm
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Layering is an important part of composting humanure and food scraps, in my opinion. Glad to see this thread initiated. The emphasis on closing the nutrient cycle and producing valuable compost is what I especially appreciate about the Humanure Handbook. There seems to be a mental leap from regarding urine and feces as sewage to the view that our bodily by-products are valuable natural contributions to soil tilth and fertility. Flush and forget is deeply ingrained, but certainly not genetically predetermined. Collect and compost is a natural alternative if there is sufficient space and material for the process. In this context, layering is an important way to introduce a variety of materials into the pile, producing better quality compost, discouraging flies and critters from feeding on exposed food/feces, making the pile larger and hotter. Sawdust is fine for the toilet layering, but in the outside pile I like to use generous amounts of leaves, grass clippings, and seaweed from the nearby bayshore to add bulk, minerals, nutrients, etc. Can there be too much compost?

Author: merridy
Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - 8:03 am
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thanks for the info....will see if I can find a thermometer, it's quite warm here now so I presume it's getting hot in there....
Larry I understand what you're saying, yes I try to throw as much variety as I can find into the pile. leaves/weeds/seaweed I just throw on/use as a cover, whereas when adding kitchen and toilet waste I create a depression in the top/middle of pile, so it does not just run off the pile and out the edge, attracting rodents (which are plentiful where we live). This results in toilet/kitchen waste in the centre, and most other materials at the edge. I was concerned that this is not sufficient layering to keep the centre stuff aerobic, and for the outer material to break down.

To Anonymous - do you mean does this outer layer of cover materials prevent liquid from escaping the pile?? If so, with my limited experience I would say no! water/liquid seems to soak downwards throughout the pile, creating a moist pile, if there is excessive rain the pile can be protected(eg a tarp or sheet of iron). When necessary more dry material can be added when wetter deposits are made.

Author: Anonymous
Thursday, October 21, 2004 - 3:32 pm
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To Merridy I meant if there is a heavy amount of water around the compost pile as heavy rain soaking into the pile would it leach out the contents.Maybe theres an underground drainage system under the pile because of all of the worms going back & forth. I read that they tunnel down to 15 feet to get away from fires or polution & sense when to go back so they can eat when the conditions are right & reproduce.

Author: veery
Sunday, October 31, 2004 - 11:16 am
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I am in the process of putting my garden to bed for the winter and have lots of vegetative matter-tomato, bean, pepper, eggplant, cabbage, etc., stalks and leaves...What do you recommend doing with all of this? Putting it in the cover material bin to save for covering future deposits of humanure or just layering it all on at once, now? I'm about to start the collection system inside with sawdust and would very much appreciate your feedback. With much gratitude for the inspiration...

Author: admin
Monday, November 01, 2004 - 8:23 am
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Put it in the cover material bin and use it when you need it.

Joe Jenkins

Author: Mary Metcalf
Friday, November 05, 2004 - 4:43 am
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OK-thanks much for the helpful and timely response, this message board is great, I've learned alot, a great addition to the Handbook.

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