How much pee is enough for 55 gallon barrel of compost?

avgusta_gwNovember 19, 2013

That is the question!:)))
The barrel is full of grass clippings, shredded leaves, coffee, kitchen wastes. I am rolling it every day, or every other day, or several times a day.

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thedarkness(5)

go to your local street corner with a 5 gal bucket and offer the pedestrians a handful of tootsie rolls if they give you some liquid gold, maybe 2-3 of those buckets would be fine

what i do with my pile is just go on it whenever im outside and nature calls, i wouldnt suggest collecting it because it may start to smell, or you can confuse it with the lemonade bottle

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 5:04PM
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avgusta_gw

ha-ha:))

I just need a math answer. How much will be too much?

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 5:45PM
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OklaMoni

awww it smells, when it is to much

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 6:36PM
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thedarkness(5)

id say just add some whenever you need to go and once it starts to stink stop or add some brown

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 8:29PM
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avgusta_gw

Well, let ask another way. Forget about pee.

How much water is needed for good wetness of full barrel of dry material ?

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 8:51PM
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thedarkness(5)

im no where near being an expert on compost, since i just made my first pile over the summer, but i think with the kitchen scraps and grass, and im assuming damp coffee grounds, it would be fine with small additions of water, and if you happen to need to go while near the barrel just do

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 10:01PM
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c6-zr1

Save your self a lot of hassle and dissolve 2 cups of your average lawn fertilizer in a 5 gallon bucket of water and pour it into the barrel.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 4:50AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Enough to moisten the material but not so much that the material gets wet.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 9:10AM
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MulchMama

Geeze, throw in a handful of granular urea.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 12:49PM
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pnbrown

Yeah, why are you being so silly as to take advantage of a free and valuable resource, when you can spend money on a fossil-fuel generated N source?

You won't be able to add too much on your own, so add it when you have it. No calculations required.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 1:43PM
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avgusta_gw

I am confused. There are thousands places that talking about proper C:N ratio, size of particles, shreading technics etc. But when ? is asked about wetness there is no one clear straight answer. I still thinking it is simple enough task for compost experts to figure out how much liquid to add to dry media in 55 ga volume for creating an ideal composting condition. Is it really rocket science?

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 2:16PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

No, it's not rocket science - that happens in labs with controlled inputs and outputs. That's why there's no straight answer to your question. For example, we don't know what 'dry' means when you refer to the material you have. You mention grass clippings, kitchen waste, coffee grounds, etc. All of which could be infinitely variable in their moisture content. Have you measured their exact moisture content? Do you know the exact temperature of the air around your tumbler? If not then you can't expect an exact answer about the extra moisture, if any, required. We're talking about compost here - stuff you throw on the dirty, wet ground outdoors in all weathers. I dare say someone somewhere could answer your question if you provided an accurate analysis of every item you had in your bin together with the air temperature - and of course an accurate analysis of your urine.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 5:14PM
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avgusta_gw

I don't know how to measure moisture content.

Grass clipping were pretty dry (practically hay), leaves were very dry, kitchen scraps-mostly clementine's, pomegranate's peelings and apple cores (not a significant amount at all),
coffee grounds with filters a little bit moist, not much; and shredded paper- dry. So, I assume that content is suppose to be considered as dry. I filled the plastic blue barrel tightly. Night T 50F, day T 60F.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 5:41PM
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pnbrown

Maybe it is rocket science.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 8:47PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

I think it's supposed to be like a damp sponge. Just add and turn, add and turn etc until it is damp throughout. Nancy

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 9:07PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

'I don't know how to measure moisture content.'

Precisely. You don't know the exact nature of what you have there so no one can be expected to give you an exact answer as to how much liquid to add.

As Nancy suggests.... experiment.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 6:00AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

The moisture level in a compost pile should be about that of a well wrung out sponge, not a wet sponge, not a damp sponge, just a slightly moist sponge. The bacteria that will be digesting that material need some moisture but not a lot and they also need air and too much water displaces that air.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 6:06AM
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pnbrown

Even the term "compost pile" is meaningless in this context. IME, a pile of random what-have-you is not comparable to a sponge.

Shall we also discuss another very strong variable, climate? In a dry climate making compost is different than in a humid one. Of course the OP isn't telling us about that either.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 8:30AM
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avgusta_gw

Since I ask about a barrel, shall we disregard dry/wet climate? I believe, outside dryness is not affecting the composting inside the barrel.

As for now, I add about 1,5 ga of pee, and about 1 ga of rain water. It has reduced its volume a little bit, and it is moving when I roll the barrel. In the morning, the wall was warm , but there was no steam.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 10:51AM
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pnbrown

Climate does affect it. If you are in a very arid climate, for example, or even florida in wintertime.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 10:56AM
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pnbrown

Not to mention temperature. Are you in the arctic? Southern hemisphere? NH or FL or CA? All very different temps/climates all at the same time.

Put some wiz on there and don't sweat it.

IALBTC.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 10:58AM
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avgusta_gw

It would affect a compost pile, not a tumbler/barrel, I think.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 10:59AM
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toxcrusadr

Even a barrel has to have some interaction with the air so it will be to some extent. However, stepping back for a moment, I think the point others are making here, stated another way, is that composting is an 'observe and adjust' sort of thing. You don't have to be able to precisely measure moisture content, either before or after adding moisture. The rule of thumb is 'damp', so make some observations of your pile and you'll get the hang of it.

Slightly off topic, but I assume there *are* some holes in that barrel? It does need air.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 12:10PM
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avgusta_gw

Yes, it has an opening on the top of the barrel and a loading/unloading "window" , which was cut off on a side and loosely attached back with a duck tape to keep the media inside while the barrel is rolling.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 1:45PM
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pnbrown

I've thought of using the rolling barrel plan, but I have never wanted to waste a good 55-gal water barrel on it. I have two extra ones now so maybe I'll try it.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 8:32AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Let us to ask another question: HOW MUCH CAN A MAN PEE ?
Ans: It will depend on how many beers he had :lol

But a 30 gallon, OBVIOUSLY has a volume of 30 gallons. So if he want to add 10% additional moisture, he will have to pee a total of 3 gallons.

Now the next question is how long it will take him to produce 3 gallons of pee ? ( I think we answer that: Depends on how many beers you have)

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 2:27AM
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rosiew(8 GA)

thedarkness says " i wouldnt suggest collecting it because it may start to smell, or you can confuse it with the lemonade bottle".

To avoid confusing a jug of urine with anything else, I just use a sharpie and write UREA on the milk jug I decant into. Use a large plastic mug for collection. Keep both under the sinks where it's unlikely I'd be looking for my lemonade. Then dilute 1:15 or so into another jug, also marked.

Rosie

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 7:05AM
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pnbrown

Not to mention, the above-noted smell of aged urine goes a long way to prevent most from confusing it with a tasty drink.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 7:59AM
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rosiew(8 GA)

So true, pnbrown. It amazes me how quickly the odor dissipates after application though.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 8:11AM
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avgusta_gw

Today my barrel is in vertical position. It smells as wet media where mushrooms grow and steams a little. Tomorrow it will go horizontal again.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 10:51AM
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Lloyd

I have a very similar tumbler. I can honestly say I have no clue how much water I add. When it feels too dry, I use a garden hose and add water until the material has the correct moisture. I've never felt a need to measure the water added.

Lloyd

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 4:48PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

To get a bigger bang for the buck, I would add it (pee) to almost finished compost so that it can be fully absorbed and utilized.
From what I have heard , you have to keep it bottled (for how long " donno) until it become ammonium. So here you have another compost activator which is readily available and not very expensive either. I buy them for $1/half gallon. That is $2/gal. This is easier than collecting my pee. LOL

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 12:55AM
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toxcrusadr

Bacteria in the soil will also manage the nitrogen cycle, and will change nitrogen back and forth between elemental (N2), nitrate/nitrite (NO3-, NO2-), ammonia (NH3/NH4+) and organic (urine porphyrin) states. Having said that, I don't know for sure that there's no advantage to pre-aging pee. In my case, there are too many browns (such as my big leaf corrals), so I want to add the N during the composting process to compensate. YMMV.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 10:58AM
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bear_with_me(8 Pacific NW)

I have a compost tumbler. Ours is mostly kitchen scraps and weeds, so maybe more moist than yours. Lots of coffee grounds and tea leaves as well.

I just go by feel. It's rare that I add water, but if it is really dry I do. As for urine, I have been urinating into a plastic milk jug. I don't let it sit around, I use it same-day on my rounds around the garden. Usually I have been diluting it in a watering can with about 3 to 5 times the amount of water. Occasionally I just pour a 1/2 liter into the compost. My compost comes out pretty good, crumbly with a nice smell. It also contains earthworms, which might help.

I don't age the urine. From what I read, aging the urine might release the nitrogen as ammonia, which can be lost to evaporation. Others know better than I do if that is true.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 11:00AM
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