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

Peeing on the compost pile

Covered compost pile

One of my favorite things about having a traditional compost pile this year is that it makes it simple to use up all that high-nitrogen urine that often goes to waste on our farm. I figure about half our pee has made it onto the piles this summer, which has probably pushed the compost a little on the higher nitrogen side than was optimal.

How can I tell? When I forked through one pile to consolidate it with another, I found lots of black soldier fly larvae. These grubs usually show up in compost that's not quite optimally balanced, and they mean I probably should have added some extra ragweed or other carbon source to even things out.

On the plus side, the pee has made our compost piles decompose fast. Our two oldest piles, now merged into one, are in their final cooking stage, covered by plastic to keep excess rain at bay. I figure the summer's weeds (and pee) will result in maybe two to three wheelbarrows full of compost when all's said and done, or approximately 5% of the vegetable garden's needs for the year. Yes, it's a drop in the bucket, but a satisfying one!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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