It is hotter than all get out here and we are not expecting a break or rain anytime soon. The ground is dry. Absolutely parched. What's a gardener to do? We water. Morning and night. Depending on what we believe about watering, we beat the sun getting up early or wait until it goes westward.
To care for ourselves in excessive heat, we are drinking copious amounts of fluids. That means we are also producing vast amounts of urine. And you know what they say, waste not want not. Turns out urine is a great fertilizer for the garden. So, piss on it!
|The key to sustainable farming|
Healthy human urine is rich in nitrogen, potassium, and phosphate, which are all essential for healthy plants. If you look at the ingredients on a bag of chemical fertilizer, you’ll see the word “urea”, which is present in, you guessed it, urine.
Collection is fun and easy. Pee in a bucket or jar. This easily saves three gallons or more of water per flush. Use it fresh. Urine won't keep. It will go bad. If it starts to smell, that’s ammonia cast off from nitrogen breaking down.
It needs to be applied rather immediately (they say five minutes) pour your donation into a gallon of water and head out to tend the garden. Urine contains salt, making it a bit powerful to apply directly to plants. You'll have to dilute the urine with grey water (any water that you have already used, like washing up) at a ratio of 8 to 1. (Some say 3:1; others, 10:1) Just like gold, spread the wealth around and just like a commercial fertilizer avoid applying every time you water.
Feed hungry plants. The ones with high nitrogen requirements - leafy greens, beets, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli. Avoid pouring urine on leaves. Water at the roots. The urine needs to go into the soil around plants. If crops are growing on the ground, water early before fruit has set. If you use bottle-top funnels to save water, the urine fertilizer would be best applied that way.
Our urine is full of useful chemicals like nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Urine is 18% nitrogen, 2% phosphorous, and 5% potassium, which is abbreviated as 18-2-5. These three numbers give the percentage of the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium by weight in the fertilizer. In other examples, fertilizer for roses is 18-24-16 and for vegetables is 18-18-21. The nutritive content of urine is similar.
The use of urine to fertilize crops has been practiced since ancient times, but is relatively rare today, “thanks to the ick factor” and the prevalence of chemical and mineral fertilizers. But really, what’s so icky about it. It’s not like I’m asking you to drink it. As farmers and home growers seek healthier ways to grow food, urine is a viable solution.
If we find we are making more water than we can use in the garden, urine also works as compost accelerator, weed killer, and is an excellent way to keep critters like rabbits, deer, and squirrels out of the garden.
I’ve got you thinking, haven’t I? Here are a few of the sources I found.
The definitive book on this subject is ‘Liquid Gold: The Lore and Logic of Using Urine to Grow Plants’ by Carol Steinfeld
How does your garden grow?