We don’t like waste … so composting is the natural way to go. At the moment we have three systems up and running here at Sunflower Cohousing: one for garden and animal waste, another for kitchen waste, and yet another for human waste. Let me briefly describe these so you can see why we love composting - because we hate waste.
Garden and Animal Waste
Weeds from the potager are fed directly into the compost bins. These break down into compost for use on the vegetables the next spring. Weeds from the gardens are placed inside the chicken coop which provides regular clean bedding for the chickens and can then be recovered (together with nitrogen-rich chicken poo) and added to the compost bins. The chickens also work over the weeds and get the benefit of extra protein from any bugs.
We currently run two (soon to be three) worm bins where kitchen waste is turned over by the worms into an amazingly rich compost. This is then mixed with garden soil and used for seed planting in the polytunnel in the Spring or for top dressing hungry feeders such as tomatoes in the Summer. Because the greater part of kitchen fruit and vegetables is made of up water, the worm bins also provide a nutrient rich liquid fertilizer and our fruit and vegetables are fed solely on this ‘worm tea’. The worms are also fed to the fish in our new aquaponic system. The worm numbers increase rapidly in the summer and the worm bins are used as a ‘worm nursery’ for the potager compost bins.
We weigh you when you arrive and we weigh you when you leave :-) :-) :-)
What’s waste in one context is valuable in another. We have a normal flushing toilet in the house which runs off to a fosse, but prefer to use the composting toilets housed in one of the outbuildings. This enables us to retain valuable resources – wee and poo.
Our pee loo is emptied regularly into the potager compost bins which adds a valuable supply of nitrogen – perfect for tomatoes.
Our dry composting poo loo uses a hot air electric fan to dehydrate our waste solids which are then added to a dedicated compost bin. This one is sealed to protect against rodents and flies. This breaks down into a nutrient rich compost which is then spread underneath the fruit bushes.
There are lots of different composting toilet systems and we’d like to experiment with some of them. We plan to hold working parties next year to build and test different composting toilets. If you’d like to come and help, check out the contact us link and let us have your ideas.