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Vermicomposting Pathogen removal
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"The compost at the bottom of the working chamber (right) is looking nearly done. At this stage, I sometimes find worms wandering at the edges of their home -- looking for more food, I presume. But populations adapt quickly. They typically work throughout the pile (paper and kitchen wastes too), making for speedy composting. They like moisture. A dry pile isn't normally a problem, though it did happen this past fall. We just added a little water every few days, and the worms quickly came back up to speed. This chamber is accessed by removing the steps above which normally cover it.
 
"The compost at the bottom of the working chamber (right) is looking nearly done. At this stage, I sometimes find worms wandering at the edges of their home -- looking for more food, I presume. But populations adapt quickly. They typically work throughout the pile (paper and kitchen wastes too), making for speedy composting. They like moisture. A dry pile isn't normally a problem, though it did happen this past fall. We just added a little water every few days, and the worms quickly came back up to speed. This chamber is accessed by removing the steps above which normally cover it.
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"We haven't been keeping close track of how long we're letting the worms work, but I'd estimate that it takes us about a year to fill one chamber (a bit less than 20 cubic feet). This year, I think we emptied it about nine months after closing. For safety's sake, Hannah has been composting the worm castings with our regular hot compost, and then her final precaution has been to spread the compost and let it sit on the beds over winter, so it's all thoroughly worked before it even gets close to food. However, there was one reference in the Humanure Handbook suggesting that worms manage to kill pathogens. I haven't had a chance to check it out yet. (Biocycle, no. 90, Nov. 1998, p 18.)"
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"We haven't been keeping close track of how long we're letting the worms work, but I'd estimate that it takes us about a year to fill one chamber (a bit less than 20 cubic feet). This year, I think we emptied it about nine months after closing. For safety's sake, Hannah has been composting the worm castings with our regular hot compost, and then her final precaution has been to spread the compost and let it sit on the beds over winter, so it's all thoroughly worked before it even gets close to food. However, there was one reference in the Humanure Handbook suggesting that worms manage to kill pathogens. I haven't had a chance to check it out yet. (Biocycle, no. 90, Nov. 1998, p 18.)" A Mexican study has reported that pathogens were reduced to safe levels after 60 days of vermicomposting (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20093021)
    
Whether you purchase one of the many commercially available composting toilets or make you own vermicomposting or sawdust toilet, we wish you happy composting. Congratulations on your decision to close the human nutrient cycle, helping to prevent pollution and conserve and enhance the earth's natural fertility!
 
Whether you purchase one of the many commercially available composting toilets or make you own vermicomposting or sawdust toilet, we wish you happy composting. Congratulations on your decision to close the human nutrient cycle, helping to prevent pollution and conserve and enhance the earth's natural fertility!
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