Serious about maintaining soil fertility?

One of the problems of organic gardening is maintaining soil fertility. In a new garden the first year or two are fine, any natural fertility in the soil gives good crops but in successive years yields will decrease if active steps to build and maintain fertility are not taken.

There are the usual ways of managing soil fertility; using garden compost, farmyard manure, green manures, crop rotation etc. A more unusual method is to use ‘humanure’, yes, human manure. It is the ultimate recycling of nutrients.

A couple years back I picked up the book The Humanure Handbook by Joeseph Jenkins. He describes how he has used human manure for many years. There are plans for sawdust toilets and good instructions about how to safely use human manure.

For many this will be step too far! Before you dismiss the idea think about it. We happily use cow, horse and for me Alpaca manure since I won 5 bags full in the local gardening club raffle! So, what is the big deal with our own manure? In the past I have mentioned the subject of using urine as a compost accelerator and for deterring cats. One comment implied that it was dangerous to handle as it was full of nasty germs. My response was that if my urine was full of germs I would need to see a doctor immediately as I would probably feel very unwell.

Joeseph Jenkins is aware that there are risks, as with any manure, but is very clear that he has been using humanure on food crops without any problems at all. In a previous post I mentioned some outstanding projects that needed finishing off. The sawdust toilet is complete and ready for use. The shed to contain it is nearly done and we are almost ready to start the experiment! Photos to follow.

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