[permaculture] Worms eat my crap?

Colin Endean kunmanara at mpx.com.au
Wed Feb 27 08:55:31 EST 2002

It's been an interesting thread so far.  From composting worms to intestinal
worms and back again.  A cyclical discussion.
Some of my experiences to add to Su's and others.  "The non flush, 1 week
turnaround, worm digested, humanure domestic retrofit system."
A 5.5 litre plastic bucket (in Australia the "Billy Bucket" lasts many years)
fits nicely into a normal flush toilet bowl.  You can s(h)it over as per usual.
Place a sheet or two of newspaper in the base/up sides of bucket (saves
cleaning the bucket every time).  I've found it easier to separate urine from
humanure, so piss out on the lawn/garden/trees or into sawdust bucket as Su
suggests.  I've had a series of commercial worm "factories" for more than 10
years and they're still working well - you can see these and description of how
they work at Mitra's site
http://earth.path.net/mitra/permaculture/howto_wormfarm.htm  The ones I have
are Reln Plastics recycled black plastic
http://www.reln.com.au/html/body_worm_factory.html   These have 3 trays and a
base or collector tray with drain tap.  One of these mature systems has
supposedly 15-20,000 worms.  Holes in base of trays let worms through, closely
fitting lid and trays stacking on top of each other exclude flies.  I put the
vegie and kitchen scraps in the top tray (although if I had chickens this might
be their food).  The second tray receives the newspaper/humanure.  The third
tray is full of castings and is the worms bedding and home.  The base collector
tray collects liquids and I leave drain plug always open with tray to catch
liquid fertiliser.
The composting worms or manure worms (red wrigglers/tiger worms) are most
active in high nutrient environments.  With large numbers of worms actively
consuming human manure the process can be rapid with 7-10 days to completion.
We have 8 of these worm factories and each day a different one is "fed".
Mostly by the time we come round to the first again it's fully consumed
including paper/newspaper.  This has been our home non flush system for 6
The worms consume the manure in preference to most other food sources - vegie
scraps etc, and the bacterial digestion in the guts of the worms produces worm
castings sometimes called vermicompost.  This digestion/breakdown has some
similarities and differences to the composting process discussed in the
Humanure text.  The aerobic composting with thermophylic bacteria produces heat
that kills most pathogens and hastens breakdown.  Worms require aerobic
conditions but without the heat, maintaining their own aerobic environment via
their activity of producing spaces and "holes" in their travels.
I've probably overstayed my visit but could fill in the gaps with further
insights if interested.


Elijah Smith wrote:

> Hello, everyone - I've been researching the use of worms to compost
> humanure - an idea layed out in a cool book I saw, but don't have, called
> Solviva.  This page is the only web link I can find with some info on this.
> Anyone else have any references to this sorta thing?  It's cool because it's
> really fast (1 month or so), you don't have to worry about compost pile
> management, which is sorta an art form, and supposedly it removes all
> nasties from the product.  In a flushing system, let the water run through
> to a sand filter/wetlands/etc.
>  Elijah
> _______________________________________________
> permaculture mailing list
> permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/permaculture
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