Posts Tagged ‘Compost’

Building compost bins – from pallets

Slowly I’m catching up with all the fun things we’ve been up to this year. Back in August the old plastic compost bin we inherited with the house finally started to collapse, leaving us with a leaning-tower-of-compost. Compost is such crucial food for our depleted soil we decided that a serious solution was in order. I’d heard about people building compost bins out of pallets, so we gave it a go, with the help of this “How to build a compost bin from pallets” tutorial from Gardeners World, and the left-over Aquaponic gravel pallets.

I’ve hacked space for them out of the 2m-thick evergreen hedge at the bottom of the garden, behind the polytunnel. and made two at once. It was a pretty easy one-person job:

They’ve been great – we have one-and-a-half full, so nw we’re just waiting to see how the first lot turns out. I already have plans to add a third!


Shopping List – latest update

Steadily firming up the shopping list for our new house – here’s the latest list, with links. 


Dining Room

  • Expandable table


  • Instant-heat to stand in front of (Gas?)


  • Wood-fired stove
  • Central Pendant light in diffusing shade – 12v CFL?
  • Two Standard/Reading Lamps – 12v CFL?


  • Kitchen Scraps Compost: Black Soldier Fly Composter / Worm Farm 
  • Firewood store, and at least 12m³ of wood
  • Greenhouse with Aquaponics system

Heating & Hot Water

Power & Light


Resilience: More about Compost Toilets

envirolet-compost-toiletI still haven’t managed to find a manufacturer of micro-flush composting toilets in the UK, but at least I have now found a supplier: The Envirolet Low Water Remote System (pictured) is shipped from a UK warehouse. It’s paired with the Sealand 510 Pedestal which seems to be standard for micro-flush systems, and the price includes the pedestal, which makes the package price a little more reasonable. The design looks like it has a lot less moving parts that the SunMar, which might make it a more resilient choice. They even have a video taking you through all their systems – here.

 Just in case you hadn’t heard enough about compost toilets already, here are some more links:

Preparations: Composting Toilets

In our post-peak-oil world, as energy gets more expensive and fossil-fuel-based fertilisers become rarer, the sewage system is one area we can look at making a big difference. Sounds distasteful I know, and not some thing usually discussed around the world’s dinner tables!

Everybody has a memory of using a non-plumbed toilet somewhere – a cabin in the woods, national park or dodgy campsite, and so we flee back to our ceramic thrones, happily filling them with water treated to drinking-water standards and transported many miles for a single flush . . . and then transported many miles for treatment and disposal. Surely there must be better ways as we look to reduce the waste that our waste creates?

There are many half-measures to make sure you’re using: get a dual-flush loo, or put a brick in the cistern of your old Victorian model to reduce the water it uses, connect your toilets up to use greywater or rainwater, so you don’t waste mains water at all.

If you’re taking it seriously though, you need to look at the new ranges of compost toilets that are available. These use no, or little, water. They do not need to be connected to the sewer system. They can be made of a classic ceramic rather than camping-style fibreglass. And – surprise surprise – do not smell.

The other reasons for considering these are those put forward by the panic-merchants over at Life After The Oil Crash and in many post-disaster scenarios: the mains water may stop flowing and the sewage system may stop working. Just imagine what life in your house would be like after a week of no sewage facilities – not a pretty sight!

In case you think these are overly farfetched, consider our situation here in Brisbane. Until huge storms hit earlier this year our dam levels were down to the low teens – around 14% of their capacity. We were facing the prospect of tankers drving water in from other areas, and a huge number of water-conservation measures were in place. One of these was aimed at reducing water use in toilets – “if it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s not, flush the lot!” This was remarkably successful, but with unintended consequences. I overheard a conversation at the height of the drought where someone from Brisbane Water was saying that they were starting to have real problems with the sewage system, as the “ratio of liquids to solids” had changed so much that things were no longer moving smoothly through the pipes! An interesting situation for a city of 1.5 million!

Anyway, whatever your reasons, if you do want to retrofit a compost toilet, what are the best options?

The “classic” style seems to still seem rather rustic, and I’ve been looking for something that I can persuade my other half is as similar to our current WC as possible. What I’ve found is a “one-pint” system, which uses a tiny amount of water to flush, and then goes into a composting system which can be situated outside the house, and emptied just once a year. What I’m looking at is the Sealand 510 Plus, which is ceramic and can take a standard size toilet seat, and I’ll connect this to a Centrex 3000 AC/DC or NE (pictured). Could be an ideal solution – not too intimidating for the user, easy to position or retrofit, and not too expensive. Now all I have to do is find a local supplier!

Preparation: Waste disposal post-peak-oil

An interesting post on The Oil Drum has got me thinking that, in addition to needing to be warm and fed, we need to work out how we’re going to avoid drowning in our own waste. Seems to me that weekly rubbish collections will be a service that will rapidly become uneconomic for councils to provide, and that sewage treatment may not be far behind. So what do we do?

First off I think we should look at this problem from the other side – any “waste” leaving our system (house & garden) represents a loss of energy, and in an energy-poor world that will be hard to take.  So lets see a lack of collection as an opportunity to ensure as little of our hard-won energy is lost.

I’ll have a look at how we can recycle as much of our waste on site, to ensure that we loose as little energy as possible – I’ll see what i can find about composting, and even compost toilets & “humanure” to see what preparations we can make without appearing to be complete nutters!

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