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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Golden Showers

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?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Staying cool in the triple digits

Frozen Margarits
We are in a heat wave. Today we were at 105 and someone posted on FB yesterday that it was 108 degrees. I live without a/c for frugal reasons, etc. I water my plants early, if I am up or in the evening as the sun passes to the western sky.

In the meantime there I am, with my dog, toughing it out. I think we have done okay, so far.

  • I open the windows at night and use a fan to draw in the cooler air. Even at 75 we are better off that the 87 degrees I may be going to sleep with.
  • In the mornings I close the drapes against the heat. I have insulated drapes on most of the eastern windows and because I used to work at night, they are blocked against light as well. I almost opened them up to let the sunshine in. These days I appreciate the dark.
  • I drink plenty of water. I mean plenty, as in over a gallon a day. I have several 32 ounce bottles that I keep in the freezer. When I make my coffee I take the first one out and drink cool or room temperature water until it defrosts. 
  • I have a spray bottle with a blend of witch hazel, peppermint, and rosemary. You can choose any spritz you like. When I make it anew I add lavender and sage. They are light refreshing scents that can be sprayed all over your body.
  • I wear the most comfortable clothes available. My workout clothes are dry wicking and pull the sweat away from my body. I also like sarongs or loose dresses. I don't own shorts, but exposing skin so that the breeze hit the sweat will cool you down.
  • Create breezes. I have fans positioned around where I work or sleep. When I get really hot, I spritz and sit in front of the fan for immediate relief. 
  • Go outside. yes, I know it is hot. However, a short walk outside will offer perspective. When I come back in I can really tell the difference. 
  • Clean your skin. Oils and moisturizers are nice, but I think clean skin is cooler. If you feel you must apply a moisturizer, do so in the shower. Step into a wrap and let your body air dry. The product will remain doing its job while you finish preparations to dress.
  • And the best tip - take your time. If it is hot and you are dressing without a/c, a relaxed attitude is best. Any anxiety or stress will cause you to sweat, defeating the purpose of everything else.
I'm off. I bought a ticket to a party tonight. The weather channel says it is still 99 degrees. I'm not going naked, so let me find the least I can wear and still have fun.

Have a great weekend. I'll let you know how it goes.

How are you keeping cool?
That's Max. Chillin'.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What's With This Stuff!

Last week when I stopped to visit my daughter she pushed me back out the open door exclaiming that she was not interested in hearing my judgement about her space. It's a mess. Regularly. I said I wouldn't say anything but that was a lie. "Good effing grief!" That's not a judgment. That's an assessment.

This morning I was back at her space and offered that it is difficult to keep coming home to piles of stuff everywhere. She shares episodes from that show where they capitalize on the distress of people who hoard. I hold that if I visit my friends/families/neighbors home and it looks a mess, it is imperative that I offer to support them in cleaning it up.

How dare I stand/sit/wander around though someone's filth (distress) and do nothing. It is as simple and easy as picking up the stuff at your feet and putting it away (or in the trash).  Between my daughter and I, we folded all the laundry, sorted it into piles and put some of it away.

We become overwhelmed when there is so much to do. Having support (company or help) can ease the emotional burden. As I got into the car, she shouted down over the rail, "Hoarding is genetic."

I know. I know. It is a constant effort to release and let go of what no longer serves us. My mother. Me. My children. I am looking into the mirror no matter where I visit. None of us need judgment. We all need compassion.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Stuff and Such

I returned home from a visit with my FOR (family of origin) with more stuff. The intention of the visit was to sell the items I have been posting on line - with no results, at a garage sale. I loaded my car to the brim and headed north. Besides what I was carrying back, there was still piles to carry forth.

It would be easy to say the garage sale was a bust, except I left bags of clothes, numerous coffee pots and other appliances, nick-knacks and do-dads at the local charity shops. The people who came to shop walked away with great bargains and I gave them extra for stopping. Two children came by to look. With block puzzles, brand new bracelets, a Mizzou cap and smiles they wandered home. The best visitors were children who had chosen garage sales over Six Flags. Their mom was delighted to let them select whatever they wanted. There was a little boy who was collecting jewelry. His mom smiled as he admired the heavy gold colored links. These moments made the hours in the hot sun worth it all.

We also cleaned my aunt's garage in order to set up and found that bottle of caramel liqueur. She loaned me the books, on the right, in the picture. I have a thing about selling books I haven't read. The books on the left are a set of five - A History of Women. The set covers ancient goddesses to cultural changes in the twentieth century. In the foreground are children's books for my grand-daughter.

I purposed to attend the sale for exactly four hours and after that time to pack up and do something else. In this process I have learned that whatever attachment I thought I had to items can be dissolved in the carrying of it a couple hundred miles repeatedly. I still brought home a few things of my own that didn't sell that I refuse to toss. They are good, useful items. I can't use them, but am willing to store them for visitors. I have a few clothing items I would rather gift to my local charity shop or post on freecycle. Then there is the stuff I brought home again. When the sun is shining, I will post a garage sale sign on my corner and offer the stuff for a dollar or two, one more time. Everything is worth more than that, one last hurrah.

Having, keeping, acquiring, and maintaining stuff is a balancing act. When I look around my house at the stuff I have I want to be amazed at my collection. I want each piece to bring me joy and delight. Whether books, clothing, accessories, or electronics. I want to know they serve a purpose. If they are just waiting to be shifted, let me move them along quickly.

Some of the lookers said they were stopping to see if there was something they just could not live without. Needless to say, they walked away empty handed. I am better at those decisions. Better, but not great. There is a house full of really cool stuff (FOR) that I obviously live without. Every now and then in the cleaning process I find a perfect do-hickey (or book) and I bring it home. Case in point, my juice extractor.  Free to me, it works great.

Still sorting and shifting...