Can You Use Urine to Fertilize Plants?
A Lush Garden Starts With a Little Urine
Okay, I'll admit that it's not the most attractive catchphrase, but at least it's very factual. If you can manage to work past the squeamishness factor, all sorts of possibilities are unlocked—one of which is the great natural fertilizer contained in every drop of urine. Your garden vegetables will absolutely love what you have to give. Maybe that's a bit sensual, but seriously, vegetable gardens thrive with the use of a urine fertilizer. Let's face it. Urine is just too valuable to be flushed away! If you're willing to experiment, stick around to learn how you can benefit from using your own urine for plants and gardens.
Don't Worry, It's Sanitary!
In fact, human urine is sterile, so long as it is taken from a healthy individual. A study conducted by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found urine to be a hygienic means of plant fertilization. It was also uncovered that urine fertilized plants produced more biomass and exhibited faster growth rates compared to plants receiving a chemical-based fertilizer. So when it comes down to it, it's really sad that urine use is limited by social taboos.
Benefits and Uses
- Natural Fertilizer: Human urine is composed mainly of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. It just so happens that these are also the three macro-nutrients required by plant life. So, what's considered waste by many is actually a great food for plants. With a NPK level of 18:2:5, urine is an optimal fertilizer for plants during their vegetative stage of growth.
- Compost Booster: If you're in the business of starting a compost pile, treating a pile that won't 'heat up,' or getting your compost started after a cold winter, urine is the trick. In every situation above, the addition of urine will boost bacterial colonies by adding much-needed nitrogen. The regular addition of urine to compost piles will ensure that the pile remains healthy and hot.
- Cost Efficient: Since urine directly replaces commercial fertilizers, you'll instantly see the savings. Urine is completely free, and with each individual producing an average 1-1.5L per day, there's plenty to be had. With a 100% savings, the value of urine just can't be beat.
How to Use Urine as Fertilizer
- Urine Fertilizer: For garden plants in the ground or in raised flower beds, dilute one part urine with ten parts water. For container plants and vegetables, dilute the one part urine with twenty parts water. Plants in containers have a much smaller root space and therefore need to be diluted further to prevent root burn.
- Compost Booster: A full strength urine may be administered to the compost pile every time it is turned. Save a day's worth of urine and add it to the pile. If you're a guy, just drop fly and do your business. Make sure you're neighbors aren't watching though!
Things to Keep in Mind
- Fertilize with the urine solution at a maximum of once a week. The freshest urine is the best.
- Just for good measures, stop administering the urine fertilizer two weeks before harvesting food crops.
- Never use urine that is compromised. The urine should only be taken from a healthy individual with a relatively good diet. Medicines, hormones, preservatives, and bacteria from urinary tract infections can all show up in urine. The better you treat yourself, the better fertilizer you'll produce.
- Not every lady should donate. Those on birth control shouldn't participate. Higher levels of estrogen can cause a lot of unintended issues with the environment.
Urine for plants is one topic that I'd never write about without having not tried it myself. So, what do I think of using urine as fertilizer? I think it's great. I'm absolutely in love with the fact that it's free and very effective. Having said that, I'm sure that my indoor garden containing Swiss chard, garlic, green onions, carrots, radishes, mint, and dill would also chime in its appreciation, if only it could speak!
I've used urine for over a year now and plan to continue with its use long into the future. Thank you for reading my article. I would be glad to entertain any questions, comments or suggestions that you may have!
- Pradhan, Surendra K., Anne-Marja Nerg, Annalena Sjoblom, Jarmo K. Holopainen, and Helvi Heinonen-Tanski. "Use of Human Urine Fertilizer in Cultivation of Cabbage (Brassica oleracea)––Impacts on Chemical, Microbial, and Flavor Quality."Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 55.21 Sept. (2007): 8657-63. Web. 23 Jan. 2012. <http://www.nku.edu/~longa/classes/calculus_resources/docs/cabbage.pdf>.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Zach