Urine for a surprise! (sorry about that…)

I know, I know… Most of you are totally grossed out… But, if you can get past the ick factor in considering urine, you will learn that you have a never-ending, free supply of a perfectly balanced fertilizer! Imagine! You will never run out again!

It’s ironic that most of us are willing to pay good money for fertilizers made from the urine of other warm blooded mammals – but cringe at using our own. It doesn’t come packaged in a tidy cardboard box or plastic bottle, you say? Well, with just a bit of thought you will see how very “green”, clutter-free and useful that is.

There ARE downsides of course. Like collecting it (much harder for women than men). And accidentally getting pee on your hand (eeuw!) when you pour it into a watering can! Although, any of you who have raised children at some point got over being squeamish about pee and poo, and – if you’ve ever dealt with a diaper pail – this will seem like a piece of cake!

The way we handle urine in the “civilized” world is truly a dreadful water waster and water polluter, not to mention the waste of such a valuable resource! The Rich Earth Institute says:

“The average person flushes the toilet five times a day, and four of those times are just for urine. This means that 80% of our flushwater—or over 4,000 gallons of clean water each year per person—is used just to get rid of urine! That is a lot of clean water used to transport ‘liquid gold’ into the sewer, where it becomes pollution. If we save it instead of flushing it, we can harvest a valuable resource that we can use in agriculture.”

And here is a quote from an article by Dr. Joseph Mercola:

“Human urine is naturally rich in nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, and with about 30 billion gallons produced every year in the US alone, it’s certainly in abundant supply. For the average person, a year’s worth of urine contains about eight pounds of nitrogen and nearly one pound of phosphorus – that’s enough to grow about one year’s worth of food!”

The beauty of it is, that it doesn’t come out of you smelling like a diaper pail – it is perfectly sterile and doesn’t really smell bad (unless you just ate a lot of asparagus…). You can use it aged and stinky or fresh and fragrance-free. It works either way. If you are taking a round of antibiotics you might hold off – or set that batch aside to age for a couple months and then put it on your compost pile. Otherwise you can use it on houseplants, food plants, and anything that grows. I avoid pouring it on the leaves of lettuce, kale, spinach, etc. for obvious reasons. Aim for the roots of most plants.

The important thing to know is that urine is very strong, so you don’t want to use it straight. Remember the yellow patches from your dog peeing on the grass? That’s what will happen. So dilute it anywhere from 10-1 to 20-1. It seems it’s an inexact science. I have read of many different dilutions. Just know WELL diluted is safest, and still works very well.

There are many field trials going on in the US and around the world, using human urine in agriculture. The early tests have had impressive results and a number of farms in the US are already working to find ways of using urine now. The biggest challenge they are having is in actually collecting enough. But in a home scale setting that challenge doesn’t exist.

Here is my “recipe” for a urine and chicken manure based “tea” that I use about three times during the growing season.

Homemade homegrown fertilizer
Homemade homegrown fertilizer

Kick-a-poo Joy Juice for the Garden:

Using a 5 gal. bucket I add of a couple days worth of chicken manure from under the hens roost in the morning, several quarts of urine, chopped up comfrey and stinging nettle leaves, a tablespoon or so of blackstrap molasses, and if I have some, a teaspoon or so of mycorrhizae powder. I then fill the bucket with water (mine is from a well), mix well with a long stick and stir once or twice a day for 3 or 4 days. It will get bubbly as it ferments. Then I use it up in one day. I add 2 or 3 quarts to a 2 gal. plastic sprinkling container, fill it with water and give all my plants an early season, mid-season and late season boost.

In between times I use plain, straight urine mixed with water (about 10-1) every couple weeks on things that are in the midst of producing… tomatoes, beans, broccoli (especially broccoli!), kale, collards, all the greens, etc.

So – get over the ick factor and enjoy being your own producer of a kick-butt fertilizer!


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