This is a basic rundown of our winter composting solution. When brainstorming, we wanted the following needs to be met:
- Warmth to compost throughout the season.
- Large size with two sections.
- Accessibility for dumping and running urine.
Note: This is the first season with our design. We will keep this post updated and report complications if they are to arise.
Lucky for us, there were excavators working on the property. They were kind enough to dig us a pit. I don’t know the exact size but it is large enough to sink a few 4 foot pallets into the ground.
And no, the dogs did not fall in.
We hope that by composting underground we can retain enough heat to keep the pile “alive” during the winter months.
We began packing pallets down while making room for two sections. When composting human waste it is essential to let the pile sit for a year before using it. We wanted to make sure we had room to switch our pile from year to year.
Next, we packed any open spaces between the earth and pallets with straw. Straw is an excellent insulator and will (hopefully) help retain the heat of earth. We used scrap wood to fully block off the space between the two sections.
We ran the urine from our separating toilette seat through a pvc pipe and onto the compost pile. The pipe was placed in a shallow ditch and then packed down with soil. This works nicely because the “Humanure Handbook” discourages separating feces from urine. Most people choose to separate the two because urine quickly fills up a composting toilet, requires a lot of cover material, and is very heavy.
We crossed wood over the pit and placed straw bales on top. I left it partially covered to take the final picture. At this point, everything is fully covered with straw. We left a small opening to dump our compost in that can be accessed by moving one of the bales. We will be designing some sort of insulated “door” in the future to make things easier.
The past few weeks, snow has been falling and quickly melting. Once we get that awesome (not awesome..) permanent layer of snow, we will place a tarp over the compost. The snow should act as an additional insulator.
What are your thoughts? Post to our facebook or this blog. Lets spread some knowledge!