How To Use Your Pee For The Garden

Depending on which gardening circles you hang with, the concept of urine in the garden may already have surfaced as a discussion topic. So what’s the deal? Should you seriously pee on your peas, tinkle on your tomatoes, and take a leak on your lettuce?

Well, not on them, exactly, but if you aren’t using your urine in your garden and on your compost pile, you are, pardon my French, pissing away a free, valuable resource and missing out an easy way to help close the gaping hole in your household nutrient cycle. Using urine in the garden can help you cut your water use (less flushing) while also cleaning up the environment downstream (no water-polluting fertilizer runoff).

Your #1 Choice for Fertilizer

According to a recent scientific research, urine is pretty effective and safe fertilizer for beets, tomatoes, cabbage, and almost everything you like to plant. Urine contains a nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (N-P-K) ratio of 10:1:4, which is essential for the plants. It also contains some necessary elements required by plants to survive. Another plus is that nutrients in the pee are highly available to veggies. As per an estimate, four adults can provide equal to 100 pounds of fertilizer each year. And, you know what’s the best part? It is absolutely free!

Here comes a question in you mind that is it safe? Yes, absolutely. The only case it can be harmful if you have a serious infection, otherwise, it is quite safe. Most of the planting experts claim that there are very rare chances of disease transmission through pee at the household level. Also, the odor of pee will be gone in no time once you apply it on the soil.

On an interesting note, the astronauts on the International Space Station drink their urine after purifying it again and again. Honestly speaking, sprinkling your urine on the soil is pretty safe and good use.

How to Use Your Very Own Garden Gold (Free Deliveries Daily!)

In the very first, you can directly deliver the product to the soil, but it depends on the privacy of your garden. Some of the times direct exposure can be dangerous for the soil microorganisms because of too much concentration of nutrients.

Secondly, and the best way is to collect the product in a container with a tight lid and the apply it to the soil. After collecting the raw product for one day or two, you can transfer it to a watering can and mix it with 5 to 10 parts of water before applying to the soil. Make sure that you are not sprinkling the mixture directly on the plants, especially on the parts to be eaten. Apply the mixture at different place every time, so all you plants will get the essential nutrients.

While applying the diluted urine, make sure the temperature of the soil is at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The reason behind this instruction is that soil microbes are very active at this temperature. During the cold days, you can waste your urine down the toilet or you can store it in large quantities for summer. Storing the urine is also helpful in avoiding the potential pathogens, in case one of your family members was sick.

Add Ashes for More Flowers, Fruits, and Roots

The high nitrogen content of urine makes it perfect for seedlings and leafy crops, but the low potassium content leaves it a bit skimpy on the stuff that flowers, fruits, and roots need. But we can fix that for free, too: Finnish researchers discovered that adding wood ashes to urine fertilizer for tomato plants resulted in sweeter fruit—and four times as much fruit! Adding wood ashes also boosted beet root size. This makes sense, since wood ashes have an N-P-K ratio of about 0:1:3, plus a lot of calcium. A handful of sifted wood ashes (save the chunks for the compost bin) will boost the potassium level in a bucket of liquid gold very nicely.

You can also sprinkle a handful of wood ashes over every 2 to 3 inches of new organic matter in the compost pile. But don’t go overboard: Ten to 15 pounds of wood ash a year is enough for a 1,000-square-foot garden. And if your soil is very alkaline, wood ashes might not be the best choice, as they make soil even more alkaline. Be sure to only use wood ashes from untreated wood (hardwoods’ ashes have the most potassium), avoid burning large amounts of glossy paper, and never, ever use coal ashes.

A Note on Salts

Urine contains significant levels of salt, which can build up in the soil in containers or even in garden beds when the climate is dry, injuring plants. Salt damage can show up as scorched-looking leaves; wilting, even when soil is moist; and stunted growth. There may even be a whitish crust on the surface of the soil. You can reduce salt buildup by watering generously (enough so that water runs out of the bottom of the pot after the soil is completely saturated) at least once a week.

Taking It Up a Notch

In Europe, where a lot of research is focusing on closing the nutrient cycle and decreasing environmental costs, you can purchase a standard-looking toilet that has a urine diversion bowl, which makes the entire collection process hands-off. In some areas, you can even contract with a service to come and empty the tank periodically and deliver your accumulated urine to an appreciative farmer. While less of that is going on in the U.S., urine diversion toilets are available through specialty plumbing supply houses if you want to make the investment. And if you live near Burlington, Vermont, the Rich Earth Institute is actively researching the collection and use of urine as a fertilizer and is looking for donations. The Institute’s website offers good advice on collecting urine in general.

Fans of bathroom poetry (I must confess I am one) will recognize the ditty, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow,” to which I say, let’s change it to: “If it’s yellow, grow a tomato!”

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