The Definitive Agriculture/Permaculture Thread
Coffee? You can grow coffee in Alaska? Alright, I”m off to google the possibilities here in Colorado…
Should be able to grow it in Colorada – probably even outside with minimal season extenders. I’ve got to keep it in pots so I can take them in and out of doors (or grow in a greenhouse), but you could probably manage to put them in the ground. They grow coffee in the Andes after all!
I’ve got “Gardening Gold” on order, but figured I’d ask you marvelous folks if you have any experience with using urine in your gardening and soil augmentation.
I’ve got all the pH, C/N, and N-P-K data for urine and it seems like just the perfect thing to counterbalance the carbon-heavy wood products that end up in my compost heap (like the sawdust “flush” for the dry toilet). In straight form, I’m worried that it might be too much liquid for the compost pile and make it go anaerobic; but letting it evap means you also lose a lot of the nitrogen. We know that peeing in the poo bucket makes it go anaerobic, but outdoors in the pile that might not be the case (very arid here).
Since it’s super-high in nitro, I was wondering if you could just pour it as a side-dressing for heavy feeders like potatoes and corn… would side dressing reduce the possibility of burn? Any weird disease issues associated (like club root?)? Any issue with residual salts?
Of course. The Andes. I’m having one of those duh! moments. We pee in our compost pile all the time, weather and privacy permitting. I must be a very sloppy grower though because I haven’t thought it through much, just read once how great the nitrogen boost was and started doing it.
Never read anything definitive about it but as a long time practitioner I have never noted any ill effects.
I’ve always heard that peeing around fruit trees was good for them – and then there is that special endorsement from Anthony Hopkins in “The World’s Fastest Indian: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0412080/
As an aside I found that the only way to keep black bears from messing with some remote monitoring equipment was to periodically mark the area – claim that bit of ground as my own…
Do any of you pour salt water on thr asparagus to keep down weeds ? My mother-in-law said they used the salt water off the icecream and had a beautiful patch .
Good question Plickity. The only thing I am pretty sure of is that human waste should sit a long time before growing leafy edibles since some of the bacteria can transmit up the root system. And the root crops would not be a good idea either. That said, it should be perfect (wet or dried) for heavy feeding crops – corn, tomatoes . . ). EGP
Yeah, I probably wouldn’t pee on my lettuce and cabbages but I don’t think that urine has the same pathogenic issues as feces when it comes to root crops. We’re definitely getting the compost temps up to 140+ for at least a day, and we’re still going to let it age (at least through one -40F winter) before adding to the garden. I figure between the hot and cold, we’ve got thermal kill covered. It takes a bit of effort (shredding, plastic, turning) to get the compost up to 140 here with the thermophilics, but the summer temps are perfect for the mesophilic bacteria to out-compete most pathogens. I’ve also considered innocluating mushrooms in the “done” pile to help with decomp even more since there aren’t a whole lot of help macro-organisms up here; just the occasional carpenter ant or wood louse — no earthworms, though, I’ll have to add those every spring once I get the vermicompost bins set up. But anyway, I’ve heard that mushrooms can breakdown almost anything, including any petrochemical and pharmaceutical residues. (I saw an interesting program where they’re using mushrooms to breakdown compost made from oil spill clean up!)
We’ve been pouring our pee bottles around the perimeter of the campsite, and so far haven’t had much of an issue with critters. I doubt my girly pee is doing anything to discourage them, but I’m sure that G’s “male dominance” marking is doing the trick – haha. I’m just lucky that I don’t have to worry about the whole “monthly visitor” anymore because I remember that whole nonsense attracting every male critter for miles around. Just a little something extra for the ladies to consider before moving out into the boonies. But, in any case, it’s too soon to tell whether our urine is helping or hindering the local flora… we’ll see if it makes a difference once the snow melts. Spring growth is super-rapid once it warms up since we’re already at 14+ hours of daylight, but if our pee line grows faster than everything else, we’ll have our answer. We might just get a bumper crop of wild blueberries and lowbush cranberries this year.
I guess peeing on the pile might actually be a good thing, now that I think about it, since we don’t get a lot of rain to keep it moist. I think a 4x4x4 pile should be able to take 2 gallons of liquid a day between the urinal and the dish water. We’ll be building our wash house right out in the garden and draining the greywater from the tub, shower and laundry tubs directly into subsurface irrigation channels under the raised beds. I’m sure surface watering wouldn’t do any harm (reports of “fresh” greywater pathogens have been slightly exaggerated), but subsurface lets us trap more moisture and heat. With any luck, our warm bath water may actually keep some of the perennials (my beloved asparagus!) alive through the winter if I put an insulated cold frame around them… not much overwinters here, even onions have a hard time surviving. We’ll just have to devise some sort of diverter system at the drain to make sure that we can control which bed (or none, if it’s soggy) gets the water that day. Until we get our well put in, it’ll be vital to use every drop of our hauled-in water as many times as is reasonable! Which is, of course, yet another reason to use our urine somewhere in the garden, too
For my off grid property I bought a composting toilet and recently installed what I call a pee-ponic urinal.
I’ve been reading The Humanure Handbook to learn how to deal with the waste properly and a few other on-line resources before I fully install the toilet. I plan to build 2 separate compost huts to create a 2 tier rotation cycle that will yield safe, usable compost in about 2 years with minimal effort. There are no sewers or septic bed so I’m forced to find a safe acceptable way to deal with waste.
What I also did was simply fill a used bucket with leaves, sawdust, wood ash and sand for the males to use as an outdoor urinal (placing a lid on it to keep out too much rainwater). I’ll simply empty it to another location every month or two (before it gets too stinky), letting it sit for another month or two and then using it as mulch or mixing it in with my regular compost. The boys are usually just going all over the place when they are outside anyway and this was a simple way to capture all that wasted nitrogen 🙂
Bonus link: interesting thread on urine separation
I’m going to build a female-friendly urinal in the cabin to go along side the poo bucket. I found a large diameter, shallow-bowl industrial funnel with 1″ side walls that rests on top of a bucket rim but still fits perfectly beneath a toilet seat. Or I can alternatively epoxy a pipe connector to it and “plumb” the urine out, using thin PEX tubing rather than harder an larger PVC, to a collection tank (on wheels of course so I can just roll it out to the garden or compost heap). That way the liquids and solids can stay separate without having to devise some bizarre urine diverter into the main bucket which I always seem to miss anyway (too bad we can’t aim as easily as the guys). Even if I go the “plumbing” route, the hole through the floor/wall will be much smaller than standard PVC waste pipes an easier to seal against vapor transmission and drafts. It’ll be nice to pee sitting down for a change, girls are just not designed properly to pee into a bottle standing up and squatting in the bushes usually just results in wet shoes LOL!