Fiona Morgan

by Fiona Morgan
(City )

I plan to build an off grid cob home and would like to be off grid. I would like to recycle water (grey water and black). But the worm compost option seems even better.

If you know of a company that works with worm toilet systems I would really like to know.

I currently live in the city and have two worm cafes. To do this on a bigger scale and recycle human poo would be awesome. I find this exciting and it makes so much sense to me.

Thank you in advance for any further information on how to achieve this.

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Dec 05, 2020
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Compoost worms
by: Stephan

I embrace you fellow compooster ! We are a growing clan.

Resources like the bible of Humanure in Joe Jenkins latest offering will hardly need mentioning. I do not know of a company that works with systems as I've not ventured into an investment in the worm-poo-tech interface, preferring low tech, ha, let me just admit it, primitive solutions. After Joe Jenkins, I would recommend my husband's book for sale on this website.

I didn't buy a vermiloo gadget. But I did think about designing and selling one. I fed my poo to worms for six months and worked out that in our mellow climate each poo needs a surface of 25 x 30 or 750cm 2, after which it needs two to four weeks at optimum worm populations to disappear into thin air, or down the worm's gullet. It needs to be covered. Mine were wrapped in newspaper. In a vermiloo context, loose material would be more applicable. A much greater poo density, such as entirely covering the surface, or a greater frequency on the same area leads to odor (that is putrefaction) and flies.

My margins are very wide here. With a very high worm population it may be possible to increase poo density.

Its all about the worm population and the area, not the depth, which beyond sufficient depth to insulate, hydrate and protect, does not affect productivity.

A mechanical vermiloo that works would probably have moving trays which cycle round and return monthly, or some kind of rotating drum that was isolated from the air in your house perhaps. If it smells bad to us, its bad for the worms. They don't live in stinking putrefaction at all, but may visit to eat and then run away and hide from it.

Other systems that require only occasional attention would be something like a long drop,or two chamber composting system, with a big chamber. For the sake of aerobic decomposition and the worm's surviving, good aeration would be needed. I've seen a chamber like this on a permaculture place that had a ventilation system with air coming up through the floor under the heap, and a tall chimney to remove the smell and cause a healthy draft through the compost. It didn't smell bad, it had a lot of sawdust added all the time. It needs to be isolated from the internal air space, and it gets to smell bad if overloaded with urine, say from 30 course participants for ten days, so the men had to urinate in the food forest.

I think aeration is one of the pluses supplied by the rotating drums too. That is the limit of my knowledge on hands off systems.

What I do at home is the bucket system, with a twist. I use a bucket and urinal. The reason being the urine gets made much faster and fills the bucket so fast that you are carrying very heavy buckets almost daily. With the voluntarily urinal collecting about 90% of the urine, the poo bucket takes ten days to two weeks to fill and is much lighter and less messy in the emptying. A bucket of slops floating in acrid urine I find yucky and hard to manage, and I've a very strong stomach.

We have little wooden cabinets with a seat, a lid and a bucket inside, and a container of sawdust or fine leaves next to it. When the buckets get 3/4 full we take them out to the big aerobic composter and put them on top covered and surrounded on the sides with about 20 cm of organic material like grass or leaves, and that covered with two layers of fine shade net to keep the flies out. It is then left there without turning for a year or more.

We used to have a fly problem and complaints from neighbours until I started with the shade net cover. It is tucked in tight around the sides of the composter and without too much fuss, no flies.

The urinal is a plastic tote box with a toilet seat lid. A 10mm flexible hose joins it to a urine tank outside the house. Inside the urinal are 3 plastic net bags (orange bags) filled with coarse organic material and there is some floor polishing non-woven plastic matting over the exit to stop the pipe blocking. The organic material is very effective at stopping odour and both the urinal and toilet are situated indoors, actually in the kitchen, as that was easiest.

The failing of the urinal is the draining hose is narrow and doesn't have enough head pressure. It lies for three meters on a next to horizontal surface before dropping down to the tank outside. It frequently refused to drain. For good drainage a 40mm plumbing pipes needs a 4% drop or something like that. When the urine builds up in the urinal I know immediately because of the awful smell. If I could solve this problem it would work extremely well. What I do now is encourage siphoning by sucking on a special detachable pipe on the end of the draining hose. Messy, yucky, not everyone's cup of tea.

The urine tank overflow drains into a bucket with a floating bucket inside that keeps the urine covered. The very mature urine in the bucket is emptied about every two to four days in garden, grey water system and humanure composter. It smells like old hay, sort of. Its very important to wash hands after all this to prevent cross infections. After bad experiences handling urine I'm very scrupulous.

We are two in the house with one urinal and two poo buckets.

So my bucket system is, like Joe Jenkins', based on aerobic composting outside. The worms would not like all that urine, but its perfect for aerobic decomposition. To grow worms in some kind of mass poo composter, the urine would need to drain away and the addition of new 'food' would have to be gradual. A couple depositing into a heap in a chamber that is 1 or more cubic meters may be ok. I wish you happy reading on the matter !

I built two grey water recycling systems that feature on my website greenidiom.com. In addition to my book, there are about four other articles besides this one: https://www.greenidiom.com/recycling-grey-water.html

Whew... I hope this helps. Everyone finds their own way. Much more colorful than the monolithic monoculture of Shanks (ceramic water borne)

Caroline

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How worms recycle human manure