“ Keep in mind that by simply saving your urine, you will divert the great majority of the plant nutrients leaving your body from entering the waste stream. That is probably the most important and relevant nugget of truth to remember and spread, because it allows people to take a step now, rather than waiting for some hypothetical future when they will build, manage and use a composting toilet.”
I’ve wanted to do a somewhat extensive post on using urine as a fertilizer, instead of just mentioning it all the time in other posts. The main problem in adopting it’s use seems to be a plethora of the fears and misconceptions surrounding the idea, so I figured that addressing those concerns would probably be the most useful approach. What follows are largely my opinions, though some facts may be sprinkled in for entertainment purposes ;) Don’t take my word for anything without thinking it out or doing research yourself to find your own comfort level. I’m just some guy out there that has access to the internet like everyone else, so why should you trust me? This information is based on a mix of practical experience and book learning, but the practical experience is the important part. I’m a keen observer and I like to push limits to see what happens. I used urine as my primary fertilizer in the home garden for many years. It’s awesome. The only reason I stopped is because I wanted to start doing market gardening and it seemed inappropriate, and no doubt illegal.
In reading forums and articles I have seen the same concerns and misinformation about using urine as a fertilizer expressed over and over again. Gardeners like to get all worked up over things that are supposed to be bad for soil or plants, and then pass that common knowledge on without actually ever really putting it to the test. The use of Urine seems to have many pieces of that kind of common knowledge attached. I too believed and no doubt propagated some of the following items. This is my small attempt to correct some misconceptions, quell some fears, and give people the confidence to move forward with using this awesome source of plant nutrition. I would really like as many gardeners as possible to read this, because using urine makes so much sense for most of us. Hopefully we can evolve out of the dark ages here and move into the golden age of illumination.
#1 Neeeooooooooo !!!!!!!! Fresh urine will burn plants, aged urine is better!: Read more »
I often braid my onions, but my braids aren’t all neat and pretty-like. Stylish onion and garlic braids are nice, but I don’t have the time, energy and patience to sit around making something that I produce essentially for functional reasons look like I bought it at a country chic boutique. Last year though, we braided onions for the market. I spent a lot of time trimming the bulbs and making them look presentable, then dipping the dried leaves in water to re-soften so tonia could braid them neatly. We added dried lavender and stuff to spiff them up a bit. they turned out pretty nice and It was kind of fun, but it was also time consuming. A major motivator was that it allowed us to sell our onions for a lot more. If you really added up our time though, it was more like having another mediocre paying job to our lives, which is actually okay, but not high incentive. I liked our onions braids, but something never quite sat right about the whole thing. I think in a way we were diminishing the value of the food we grew by making it into something that may be viewed as art first and food second. Also, I couldn’t help thinking that we could have spent that time growing more food or making something more lasting.
“None of these goals and design parameters will be considered in a myopic sense. Context must be considered with an assessment of cost benefit ratios in a holistic sense that includes values beyond convenience and control.”
After taking lime burning in a steel drum as far as we felt we could without adding something to the drum. Tonia and I decided to venture off into building a kiln with available materials. That was one goal- to explore the possibilities of available materials. Another was to experiment with design changes in order to improve smoke and efficiency issues. We decided to add a grate and a fire box to see where that would lead us and how effective burning the fire separate from the shells might be. The metal drum taught us that we needed either insulation, or mass, or both together which I gave the silly, but relevant, name massulation.
We thought of using some bricks that were around, but decided to go a little more primal using stuff we might be able to scrounge up anywhere. That meant having a base which could support a grate. We chose to use bricks for just the base because it was faster for our experimental purposes than mudding one up with cob, though the cob would probably have worked better. We slapped some mud onto the outside of the bricks to seal most of the air leaks. The base had a short firebox leading to a grate at the bottom of the column.
This update is loooong overdue. In fact, it was started maybe as much as a couple of years ago, but never finished. So overdue in fact, that I’ve divided it into two parts. This part will deal with burning in a metal drum, while part two next week will assess some clay and straw kilns that were built later on.
Warning, extreme geekage ahead! This will be TMI for most people, but hopefully useful for those who want to understand and pursue lime burning. Although I think using a drum is not the greatest, I’m using it as a reference point to try to understand and relate the process as a stepping off point, because this has been our evolution. Future posts may be more along the lines of “how to do this right”. This article is somewhat of a chronicle of an evolution, but contains a lot of relevant ideas and information to help the would be lime burner better understand the issues involved.
Lime burning at Turkeysong is pursuing broad goals. One goal is to make home-scale lime burning practical enough to use in development of infrastructure here on the land. I’m also interested in assessing the practicality of burning lime for agricultural use. A small amount of lime is already in use here for processing leather and rawhide, as well as for preparing corn for tortillas and hominy. Other uses will no doubt arise, such as the tree trunk paint formula I’ve been working on and all sorts of building and paint projects. Another goal or motivation, as always, is to be able to share this information out to the end of providing achievable alternatives for small scale builders and self reliant tinkerers. I am encouraged by the results so far and am looking forward to experimenting more. I wanted to offer some insights gained up to this point, both for the benefit of people who want to try burning lime on their own and also just to have it written down for future reference. Read more »