Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Urine? As a Fertilizer?

So most of my readers know that I am an organic gardener. I have never needed much by the way of fertilizers or pesticides however because I in the last 3 years only grown a small crop and most of that was in pots. This year however my garden has about tripled in size as have the amount and variety of crops that I am growing. For the first time compost wasn't cutting it as a fertilizer and my plants were starting to look lack luster even though they are still seedlings in pots. I had used compost mixed in the water to water them.. but I realized that a chemical fertilizer was going to be best.. which made me so sad. I knew I needed an organic option that would work like a chemical fertilizer.. pure nitrogen almost mixed in the water.
Well it didn't take long before I found site after site promoting the use of fresh human urine. I was a bit shocked but hey I will try anything (and have) so I decided why not.. I pee sometimes 5 times a day or more.. I am a plentiful source of it. Even if I had to water half the plants at a time (in between pees) I could do that.
So I did my research. The sites I found said to use fresh urine no more than 24 hrs old as it will then be ammonia which will quickly kill off your plants. (older urine was once used before bleach was invented to clean clothes).  They also said that you needed to mix it in at least a 1/5 ratio of urine to water but most said 1/15 parts urine to water.
So how does it work? What is the science behind it? Our bodies can only break down part of the nitrogen we consume, the rest is collected in our kidneys and turned into urine. So fresh urine is a huge huge collection of nitrogen, the main nutrient plans need to grow and produce fruit. 
So you may be wondering if this is so great, why doesn't everyone know this? or do this? Well for one most people think it's gross. After all it's a bodily waste. That being said urine is 100% sterile. Another reason why this isn't super popular is it is impractical for large fields of plants. Even if you had everyone in the household collect their urine over the course of the day and mixed it in a 1:15 ratio you still would only have maybe 10 gallons at the most. This would only water a medium sized garden. However for a small garden like ours it is optimal. The other reason why this can be not promoted is while urine has much lower ratios of mercury and other toxins than feces, it is still a tiny bit higher than the level needed for commercial organic approval. However many organic gardeners swear by it.
Some organic farmers are even looking into specialized toilets which would separate urine (catch urine) and leave feces behind. Though I found it pretty simple to urinate into a collection cup. Anyone who ever had a child (any woman that is) has had 9 months of urine collection practice (not to mention taking pregnancy tests). For a man it would be even easier I would imagine.
So back to my own experience. I began this 4 days ago. I water the crops once a day with a 1:15 part mixture of urine to water. Over the last 4 days I have seen a almost unreal change in my plants. The tomatoes have doubled in size. The few crops that still had not germinated sprouted like crazy. The carrots went from spindley half dead seedlings to large bushy carrot tops. The spinach came back, the pumpkins squash and corn are now over growing their pots.
I am taking care to record my observations, like any good biologist does, because I think I am going to try this again next year but actually keep track of growth day by day or week by week and write a scientific paper on it.
So for all the organic gardeners who read this blog.. before you poo poo using pee pee.... try it. Your fall harvest may surprise you.
Some sources for you:
Also google "urine fertilizer" to find article after article.

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