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Liquid composting?

Posted by Grak 7 (My Page) on
Tue, Dec 11, 12 at 12:01

Alright folks here is my dilemma. I have roughly 7 gallons of "waste" water from my turtle tank each day, I also collect roughly 1 gallon a day of urine. I would much prefer to use the liquids opposed to just dumping them in the forest. Any ideas? There is a small amount of "solids" from the turtles. The turtle dilemma will be a temporary one. I have 2 3X3X3 compost bins, 1 10 gallon tumbler and about 6 4X8X2 ft "leaf mold" piles. If I add urine to the leaf mold piles will that change the type of compost I get from them?
Correct me if I am wrong but when you aim for leaf mold you goal is to have an amendment that consists of undigested leaf veins, minor fert, and high organic matter. More to give soil a good structure then to provide nutrients.
I have been watering the piles about every 10 days to keep them moist and get good mold/mushroom growth going. I just don't know if those organisms can handle the urine. The Turtles produce small amount of Nitrates, nitrites and ammonia, not sure how that will effect the microbes I am looking to nourish. Any help would be GREATLY appreciated, I HATE wasting water, and watering the grass and various flowers this time of year is certainly a waste.(Though better then sending it to the sewage treatment plant)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Liquid composting?

You have very good questions, most of which are just beyond my level of knowledge. I did want to say that watering grass/trees is not a complete waste, because in your own small way you're returning it to the aquifer. During last summer's Midwest drought, I used a 'kitchen bucket' for rinse water, etc. and tossed it out the back door or watered plants with it. I've actually continued it into the winter, since the ground is still really dry. Can't hurt.

So if you decide not to use this water on your compost, all is not lost putting it on the ground.


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RE: Liquid composting?

  • Posted by Grak 7A (My Page) on
    Wed, Dec 12, 12 at 17:45

I agree that its not a total waste, and next year the lawn will be green all winter. Adding in Rye, have the niceist yard in the summer then the neighbors get their chance because their weeds stay green and my lawn goes dormant:( Also any chance anyone gets to utalize water twice or more I encourage:) In case anyone actually reads this. That water you used to boil you pasta will kill even the toughest weeds while its still scorching hot:) Noticed a thistle comeup just yesterday changed the plan from pulled pork to spaghetti and bam, no more thistle:)


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RE: Liquid composting?

If you have a pile of leaves on the ground, excess moisture will just flow away from it, no reason to not dump liquid OM in there, and the nitrogen will help them decompose more quickly. I do this also. Dumping extra liquid on plants while it's cold out sounds like a general recipe to kill your plants, most of which do not want to be extra soggy while it's cold.


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RE: Liquid composting?

OTOH here in the Midwest we had a wicked drought, actually still going on this fall and winter. I'm still flinging buckets of wastewater off the deck into the yard to do my little part, however small, to recharge the groundwater. I planted a tree the other day and the silty clay was dry as a bone down to a foot below ground. Weird for December.


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RE: Liquid composting?

My only concern with the 'turtle water' is that turtles can carry salmonella and I don't know whether those bacteria would be retained in the compost over time. If you hot compost perhaps they would not be, and if you don't use the compost on food crops it likely doesn't matter. Seven gallons is a lot of liquid to use on the compost daily altho depends on how dry your climate is. If too much for your compost it certainly could be used directly on a lawn or in garden beds or continue to 'water' the forest.

Many people use urine on their compost piles so that's not likely a problem.

Whenever I have ignored leaves they turn into leaf mold on their own but I would guess there would be a limit to how much liquid of any type one could put on them.

Do you have a source of high carbon material such as sawdust, wood shavings or chips, or shredded paper? Adding the turtle water or urine to that might create compost fairly quickly.


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RE: Liquid composting?

I share the salmonella concern. And by the way - seven gallons of waste water per day? Holy smokes!


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RE: Liquid composting?

If you're worried about bacteria, just make sure to wash vegetables before eating.

Oh, and don't eat the compost.

Seriously, salmonella has to be ingested in high amounts to make you sick. I can't imagine that one turtle can produce so much salmonella that it would contaminate an entire compost pile to the point that vegetables grown months later would make you sick. The soil is already full of potentially pathogenic microbes. We just avoid eating them. JMHO.


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RE: Liquid composting?

No turtles, but an observation that might be relevant. Ranchers here leave their cattle over-winter in the hay field nearest their homes/barns, and there is a significant buildup of urine and droppings, which then fertilizes the hay when they move the cattle in the spring.

Similarly, before I built a deer fence, I'd have 5-20 deer in my yard every evening, all winter long, and they'd leave gobs of droppings and urine splashes everywhere. All of which lead to obvious spots greening up nicely in the spring, while the non-urine/dropping areas were significantly behind.

So point being, just throwing your waste turtle water on the lawn may well be a good idea, if you can spread it around well enough.


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RE: Liquid composting?

Like Tox I got into the habit of not wasting any water during this past year's drought. If in doubt, use it to water the lawn and non edibles. Urine has never harmed my compost or other plants when applied indirectly.


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