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bob day

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since Apr 07, 2013
Central Virginia USA
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Recent posts by bob day

Thanks for those studies, it's good to see some work is being done

Despite the evidence suggesting potential pathogen destruction
during the vermicomposting process it is still best to use
caution when dealing with materials such as manures and sewage.
Part of the problem is that even if the passage through the
earthworms' gut IS destroying these organisms, how can we be sure
that all the material has in fact passed through a worm? Even in
the most efficient systems there will undoubtedly still be at
least some unprocessed materials.


I'm guessing you noticed the Denali project was limited to e coli and choliforms

and both the other projects used or recommended additional sterilization methods  either before or after the worms did their thing, the quote above from the long pasta pretty much sums it up.

It's important though not to get too caught up in Fecaphobia, and I will admit that even with hot composting the system is always open to some human error.  The small pile ( 1cu yard)method with turns, requires every bit of the pile get it's turn in the inner heat, and even the large piles Joe uses need care in the beginning, although as that pile grows it is easier to make sure the new stuff is totally engulfed right away.

Like I said earlier, I like worms, they are magic, I have an active worm bin in the corner of my room, but they get food scraps--and outside they invade  the compost when it is cool.

But if worms are the only method then the two year rule still applies,, and like the wheely bin project recommends, that product goes to shrubs and trees not garden food plants.

It would be good to see a study comparing hot compost vs worms with pathogen destruction  

Even though I'm advocating here for hot compost I would rather use worm bins  if they were  as well researched.
1 week ago
Oh, thanks for the link, I see what you are thinking about. Which isn't that much different from just putting a five gallon bucket with a smaller box and toilet seat and dumping it outside more often.

Let us know how that works out for you.





1 week ago
The "wheelie bin" system is not something I'm directly familiar with, but it sounds like an airtight plastic garbage can (when the lid is put on) this will break down over time, but even with the lid off unless there are holes in the sides it will be primarily anaerobic.

Elaine Ingham's work identifies anaerobes as problematic for soils, so before using an anaerobic "compost" worms or aerobic composting would be the best way to finally use whatever comes out of the wheelie bin.

With worms, I agree they are magical and they will eat the stuff and change what it looks and smells like, and at this point in time I would love to set up a bath tub sized worm bin and use them instead of hot composting, but do they take care of all pathogens? They probably do e coli pretty good, but that is just the tip of the iceberg and e coli don't last that long in a healthy soil anyway.

If you know of other data that shows worms can destroy disease and parasites in human waste the way a hot compost method does, please publish the link.

Humanure may not be trademarked at this point in time, but Joe Jenkins certainly has published the most comprehensive work on it, and his system has good science and great references, so when I see that word I automatically think hot compost/Joe Jenkins.

All the other methods I've seen using worms or in the ground composting rely on the 2+year rule-  I'm going to guess the wheelie bin wants that amount of time also.

I will admit that composting the way I described is a bit tedious, and for one person I didn't have enough even after a year to make a full pile, so I would import other manures and grass,leaves, etc to build a hot pile, which took even more time, but at the end of the two weeks or so in the spring I had lots of beautiful compost for my gardens and I knew it was safe to use and alive with healthy soil organisms.
1 week ago
this   is the first place to go if you haven't seen it


The compost process requires heat, air, moisture. When the pile is large enough it generates it's own heat and retains it's moisture longer, but should be turned periodically to keep the process aerobic, and watered occasionally if it's losing moisture.
Again, compost is a specific biological treatment by microscopic organisms, anaerobic organisms are thought to be the bad guys in the soil, compost organisms are aerobic and generally the good guys.

Nutrient ratio for compost is about 25 parts carbon to one part nitrogen- human waste is about at a perfect ratio,but urine is high nitrogen, and can accelerate the pile working. Inside I keep my bucket as dry as possible, but save the urine and mix it in later outside--this helps compensate for the sawdust which is almost pure carbon.

I always mix mine with other compostables  when I build a pile and usually try and spike it with a little extra nitrogen--chicken s**t--  so I save up my stuff until I get together a cubic yard/meter  which is the recommended amount for a good hot pile and then build the pile and turn it every couple days .

You can do this round or square, but too small or  spreading it out too thin won't generate the heat needed. Keeping it anaerobic inside a plastic bin  is how methane is generated, but it will need some added heat, and a way to collect the methane, and the end product still needs to be composted to finish the treatment.

I believe most places where composting is legally possible there is a two year minimum treatment period which might be your best option if you want to throw a bit at a time into a small bin, close it up and leave it for two years. That means depending on the amount generated you will likely want at least three bins, one being filled, one ageing, and one being emptied, but depending on how many people are feeding into this you could need a lot more--2 years can be a long time.

The actual compost period with a hot pile can be reduced to two or three weeks if you build the pile from scratch and turn it every couple days.  (1cubic yard)  

The bigger piles where fresh  buckets are emptied every day into the center  are acting like a furnace on the interior with straw on the outside holding in the heat and odor , and the process of opening the center for fresh additions allows oxygen to enter the pile - most human pathogens can't take  120 degrees temperature  for a few hours, so the actual treatment time can be dramatically reduced in a compost pile running at 135(F), a cold pile however and some of those organisms can hang on for a couple years.

If this is a B&B type situation, you really need to pay attention to the possible spread of pathogens brought in by outsiders.  So even if I was going the two year route, I would especially want to put it through a hot pile before scattering it around.

1 week ago
Just for reference, a 1/4 acre plot would be 100x100 square- approx--or equivalent polygon-  more or less.

also,  one trick that can teach animals about electricity is to put a bit of peanut butter on foil and wrap it to the fence--this will teach in no uncertain terms. Some people energize a fence for a bit with this attractant  and then don't even keep the fence on all the time, just occasionally rebait  and energize to remind them and teach any newcomers. This method works well for deer who will jump anything less than 8-10 feet, but a taste of the hot peanut butter and they steer clear

For bears I was told to use three strands, one of them as barbed wire, to get a bit closer to the skin through all that fur--of course a more powerful charge will penetrate also.
1 week ago
I've had a similar experience with Luffas, producing lots of vine, but few gourds. I wonder sometimes if I have too much nitrogen and not enough phosphate, or maybe zone 7 isn't a long enough season
1 week ago
Curt, You make a good point about a possible pitfall of a conservancy as it might be normally set up.  A good conservancy will/ trust would name a secondary trust/ foundation that would inherit the land and preserve it if your brother was unwilling/ unable to take responsibility for it.

I'd like to set up a trust that was more in the public domain even before I die, so there are more people with similar ideals participating and willing to enjoy and nurture the land I saved back from the cycle of clear cutting every 10-20 years. My own son is off making his own life, and I'd like to make a provision that he would always be welcome to participate should he ever choose to do so. Primarily though my land is a vehicle for changing ideas and life patterns to more productive and less damaging ones, not just a nest egg my son inherits and squanders.

Tyler, I sent an email to the address  office@permaculturenews.org and got back a nice note

Hi Bob,

Yes a lot has changed but Trusts are a popular way of managing estates.

You would need to seek out a local expert I believe and we don't actually have the material that you would be referring to I'm sorry.

Kind regards,


Darren Hey

PA to Geoff and Nadia Lawton

Personnel Manager Zaytuna Farm

Permaculture Research Institute



I'm guessing those documents would have been property of Tagari publications, which was Bill's creation, but the general idea of seeking local counsel is likely a watch word here. and the original trust documents from long ago could only be a starting point for a consultation, not a fill in the blank finished legal document.

A lawyer owns the property next door, and I may end up buying it from him, but for now I plan to float some of these ideas past him and see what he thinks. No reason he couldn't give some of his acres as a tax write off to a non profit next door, and then be allowed continuing access if he ever wanted to come back. The real hope is that he can refer me to a good trust lawyer who can set the whole thing up.


1 week ago
thanks for the reference  Tyler, I've thought about that different times, since the trust documents used to be sold regularly,


there would be a great deal to change without doubt, but parts of it might be useful. Corporation law varies widely from state to state in the US, so one size doesn't fit all, but it might save some time if i hire a lawyer  to figure it out.


2 weeks ago
I glanced through this thread, referred from the Permaculture conservancy thread, and it amazes me just how much Bill knew about these subjects and how insistent he was that we focus on them at least as much as building a dam.

He also had several examples of gleaning in Australia on a business level.

I forget which town it was that had chestnut trees or something. One person put up an ad to buy unprocessed chestnuts by the pound and immediately he had all the kids gathering chestnuts and bringing them in.
This spread to the adults who started to care for the trees. Then he processed the nuts , took them to another town where there was a market for chestnut meats and made considerable amounts of money. This operation grew and grew until he located the best trees in town and propagated them, and then gave the plants to the people of the town to grow and continue to improve the production.

He also talked about how it was illegal to harvest one exotic species of fern or flower, but that same species was being destroyed arbitrarily by conventional farmers or lumber companies in their land clearing. Coming in and gleaning those exotic plants was worth lots of money, but often  takes people with pure business skills to implement a plan that creates a win on all levels and ultimately involves lots of people in these processes and gets us all to reevaluate the way we use land.

Anyway, I will also mention my similar quest for that system of legal immortality for the lands we so carefully nurture, and please share any results  or actions you have taken along these lines. I posted more about trusts and such over in the conservancy thread webpage
2 weeks ago
I have been listening to Bill Mollisons tapes from a 1983 class, and he spends about 1/3 of his time talking about just this concept, although he goes a few steps further.

I like his ideas about setting up a non profit and a for profit company simultaneously, the for profit donating all it's earnings to the non profit each year to avoid taxes, the non profit set up to educate and sponsor Permaculture projects.

I have had these tapes for about a year, listening to them almost daily, and he covers the normal stuff--zones, sectors, trees, water, etc., and for a long time I would simply avoid all the complicated stuff about associations, and incorporations because it rattled my brain. it was easier to simply plan a dam and swale and all the plantings and such than to even start an association (or even understand why I would start one.)

But the end result in his legal planning becomes an untaxed, ever growing entity, protected in law and more or less immortal.

The catch here is that all this rhetoric and information is based on Australian Law from 40 years ago. As I gather my wits (after having my brain rattled ) more and more I'm starting to investigate just how applicable his meticulous plans and legal structures might be. (finding this thread was the result of a google search looking for existing documents on these principles.

He talks about "arming ourselves with the armor of the invincible" , and how all the big boys use these strategies to get over on the legal system, while all us uneducated(legally) peons plod along and subsidize their enterprises with our tax dollars.

He also was the one who had to coerce Geoff Lawton to set up his own institute, and of course Geoff has done nothing but grow and branch out.

Basically here most of what I'm doing is bumping an old thread, looking for others who may know more, and especially for others who may have already mastered these strategies and might want to share their trust documents. It costs a bit initially to get these set up, legal wording in contracts can be a bit pricey from a competent /sympathetic lawyer, but once the wording is in place copying it is cheap--Bill used to sell his trust documents for 10$, and they may still be available, but would likely need to be translated to the laws of the United States. If anyone has seen these documents, I'd love to hear about them.
2 weeks ago