The Walden Effect: Homesteading Year 5. Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Homestead Blog

Innovations:

Homesteading Tags

Recent Comments



Blog Archive

User Pages

Login

About Us

Submission guidelines

Store


Packing bedding into the composting toilet chamber

Weeding the fall garden

Although Mark and I sometimes butt heads, I'm actually glad he's strong-minded and has his own opinions.  Yes, even when he's a non-believer about things like composting toilets

Composting toilet constructionIf he was as gungho as me, I'd probably play fast and loose with the carbon sources in the composting toilet.  But since Mark's only about 50% on board, I'm putting in some extra effort to make sure there will be no flies, leaks, or smells.  That way, he won't be able to say "I told you so", and our readers might inspired to follow our lead and slip a composting toilet past their similarly unsure spouses.

Since I have them on hand, I used spent sweet corn stalks and garden weeds to form a nest inside the first compost chamber.  I cut the corn stalks in half so they fit flat on the ground, covering the earth completely, then I set more corn stalks upright around the inside edges.

Lazy man's load

Next came the fluffier garden weeds.  I used a very heaping wheelbarrowful to loosely fill the chamber about halfway full, then stacked weeds along the inside walls (within the corn palisade).

Packing bedding into composting toilet

The idea is that urine and feces will get caught by this carbon net and won't be able to creep out the holes in the walls (which are necessary for aeration) or to seep out the bottom.  Although it seems like a bad idea to fill the bin halfway up before even starting to use it, the bedding material will mat down as it begins to rot, so it won't really use up as much space as you might think.  Hopefully, it will still take a solid year to fill the first chamber.

Garden weeds

We're waiting on sawdust before we put the composting toilet to the test.  We'll have a five gallon bucket of sawdust beside the seat to make it easy to drop a scoop down the hole after each use, keeping the top of the pile just as well sealed off with high carbon material as the bottom and sides are.  More on that later in the week, hopefully.

Composting toilet yoga

(Doesn't this look like it's a yoga pose?  Maybe Compost Pile Warrior?)

Our chicken waterer helps make disbelieving spouses into believers by keeping chicken chores easy and clean and the coop dry.


Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.


Are you going to put a liner in the sawdust bin? If you just dump the sawdust on the ground it would attract moisture, I think. That would mean rot in the summer and freeze in the winter.

It seems like a good idea to put a waterproof liner in the sawdust bin. Maybe fold in a tarp?

Comment by Roland_Smith Wed Sep 26 16:05:01 2012

Roland --- Excellent question. I'm trying to decide about that.

In The Humanure Handbook, Jenkins recommends letting the sawdust rot some before using it. Presumably, prerotting helps because sawdust takes so long to break down, and because partially rotted sawdust would seed the composting toilet with good decomposing critters.

On the other hand, he also mentions bringing some inside for the winter so it doesn't freeze. I'm not sure if an unlined bin under roof would be a good halfway house or not.

Comment by anna Wed Sep 26 18:54:24 2012

One of the uses of sawdust is as an absorbent for spilled liquids. It works pretty well in that role.

So I'm guessing that a pile of dry sawdust left in contact with the ground would absorb moisture from the ground and become a pile of partially wet sawdust pretty quickly. Wether it would wet out completely is anybody's guess.

Comment by Roland_Smith Wed Sep 26 19:35:39 2012

"If he was as gungho as me, I'd probably play fast and loose with the carbon sources in the composting toilet. But since Mark's only about 50% on board, I'm putting in some extra effort to make sure there will be no flies, leaks, or smells. That way, he won't be able to say "I told you so", and our readers might inspired to follow our lead and slip a composting toilet past their similarly unsure spouses."

I whole heartedly love that thought! I am gonna have to try to think more this way. thanks

Comment by Irma Wed Sep 26 23:26:37 2012

Roland --- I agree with your thinking. On the other hand, partially wet might be okay --- human waste isn't all the wet (especially since we sidetrack most of our urine into other parts of the garden). I suspect we'll just have to use some trial and error and see.

Irma --- Looking on the bright side is one of the many good things that Mark has taught me. :-)

Comment by anna Thu Sep 27 08:30:12 2012

you remind me a lot of my great grandma. She was of native american descent, of the Taino tribes of the Greater Antilles. You are like a modern day Pocahontas, the disney character not Matoaka, although Mark can be your John Smith if need be.

This comment is totally unrelated, take it as a thank you both for sharing your experiences. This blog is my first internet stop. I am sure that when you find your venue to get social and share the knowledge its going to be a Huge success.

Comment by vote4Pedro Thu Sep 27 20:26:19 2012
vote4Pedro --- I'm glad to remind you of your grandmother. My mom would call that kind of behavior "stout", which is Appalachianese for intrepid. We're glad to have you reading!
Comment by anna Fri Sep 28 07:55:55 2012