Is it the end? Or maybe it’s really the beginning? Or perhaps it’s all part of a circular journey!
What we’re talking about is compost of course; it’s the end of the compost toilet process – turning human faeces into nutritious compost, but in many ways it’s the beginning of another process – putting humus, nutrients, goodness and structure into the soil from which plants and food can grow, which you can then eat, and excrete into your compost toilet and the process starts over again! It’s natural, it’s real, it’s the cycle of life!
At the end of February, I was due to give a talk about compost toilets to an audience in Birmingham. I wondered about actually taking along some of my ‘personal’ compost from my shed toilet (like in a classic, “here’s some I made earlier” sketch)! I hadn’t actually got around to emptying my compost bin yet, so it was a first for me. I went over to the bin and with a shovel, scooped up some of the stuff that had been sitting there for 18 months or more. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised that it didn’t smell (why would it – I’ve been telling people it doesn’t smell since I’ve been running the Little House Company).
Looking at the compost, you could see it was alive – worms were in there, doing their business – it looked good and it smelled good too. This sort of thing makes me smile because it’s about natural connections, nature and as I mentioned before, cycles.
I realise that me getting all giddy about humanure compost will not excite everybody, in fact, I’m fairly sure some people will be completely repulsed by the very idea, so it was with some caution and trepidation that during my talk and presentation, I opened the container of my compost, put my hand into it, and told them how nice it smelled. I didn’t offer to hand it round, but then someone from the audience asked if they could see it – before I knew it, my pot of former poo was being passed around and sniffed by all and sundry, and everyone agreed that it just looked and smelled like a good homemade compost.
Perhaps the audience was more open-minded than most, but either way I was incredibly pleased that people were open to this idea. The next thing is to empty the compost bin completely and riddle the compost to get it nice and fine, and then start to use it in the garden to grow veggies and herbs – after all, that’s the whole point of the process – to complete the cycle of life naturally.
In case you’re wondering from looking at the photograph, the ‘stalks’ are pieces of chopped flax stalk that I add as a soak – they haven’t composted as well as the rest, but they were added later on, so I’m guessing that with more composting, they’ll break down completely. My compost bin is just a standard plastic bin, but I do intend to start using one of the HotBin rapid compost bins that we sell – this will accelerate the whole process and enable me to mix everything together (currently I segregate garden waste into one compost bin, and humanure into the other).