Books, Garden

Changing tactics as new material is learned

Previously, spent wood ashes from making own lye were disposed of into the compost pile.


After digging into the new book, The Humanure Handbook, no substance that significantly alters pH including liming agents (eg: agricultural lime, wood ashes; sulphur on the other end of the pH scale) should be added to the pile. Instead, these substance should be added directly to the soil and can be added at the same time as compost. The issue lies in how the pH affects the microbes responsible for the process of active composting. Thus I would see no problem with ashes being added to entirely mature compost once the biological processes have terminated.

In fact, the book presents a finding that liming agents as well as other soil amendments like acidifiers and fertilizers are more fully utilized and reach deeper into soils that have been dressed with compost compared to untreated soils. The author asserts that increased organic matter is like responsible for the observations.

Composting any organic scraps from paper to veggie peelings to bones (and yes, human manure but we can take steps one at a time!) is an easy way one can take to lessen their environmental impact and keep precious nutrients from be lost forever to the anaerobic landfill. That compost can help any plant from lawns to veggies to potted houseplants to landscaping plants and everything in between!


Christmas gifts happily bolstered my reading materials

It is no secret that I love to read. Typically multiple books will be read simultaneously if they are wildly different topics like 1 fiction novel and 1-2 non fiction novels covering different matters. For example I am currently re-reading (well, listening) to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn read by Elijah Wood (affiliate link) while physically reading the two books discussed below. I had audible credits to use or lose so why not re-read this masterpiece with a twist?

As christmas gifts I received two books that have been on my list for a very long time. The book relevant to the farm venture is Humanure Handbook: a guide to composting human manure (affiliate link). We are flushing away an astronomical amount of agricultural nutrients and using an equally astronomical amount of drinking water to do so. The first step to rectifying this major oversight is to work through the taboo of discussing recycling nutrient-rich human excrement. In fact, the author had to self publish the book because as he states it “no publisher would touch this book with a 10 foot pole”.

The Humanure Handbook covers a large amount of science behind composting so I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the various applications of compost whether it be landscaping, horticulture, gardening or reducing the environmental impact of the waste each of us produces. In order to successfully fight through the fecal-phobia and taboo topic, the author definitely needs to delve into the science of composting to adequately explain how to safely turn human excrement into a nutrient rich soil amendment. He does so beautifully based on the 40 pages I’ve read so far.

The other book I received has been on my list for about two years before it was even written. Steve Rinella is an idol of mine because of what amazingly honest content he produces regarding responsible and ethical hunting. His TV show Meateater is a huge breath of fresh air  from the norm which are basically half hour infomercials for hunting products with people I don’t consider hunters shooting animals that are functionally livestock (contained in a fence and fed corn). I’ve recommended the show to friends in the vegan or animal rights categories that, while still uncomfortable with the realities of gutting/butchering/harvesting meat, gained a new and valuable perspective on hunting. His podcast by the same name is also enjoyable while more geared for hunters.

When he announced they were undergoing a seemingly impossible venture of writing a complete guide to hunting, I immediately wanted the book. Over a year later, the big game edition was released followed shortly by the small game edition. For anyone interested in processing their own meat (or just how meat is processed in general) including hunters, farmers, etc. these books are invaluable resources. Affiliate links: Big Game edition, small game edition.

I’m excited to learn more in depth and hopefully share any relevant information I pick up!