Believe it or not, you are flushing valuable, nutrient-rich liquid down the toilet every time you urinate. We don’t think twice about putting cow manure, chicken droppings, and various other animal excrements in our garden, so why is the thought of using your own urine in the garden so appalling? Instead of immediately dismissing the idea as some all-natural, health nut hoax, take a look at these research-backed reasons to add human urine to your garden.
Urine as fertilizer
Environmental scientists Surendra Pradhan and Helvi Heinonen-Tanski at the University of Kuopio in Finland have safely and effectively used human urine in numerous agricultural studies to grow cucumbers, cabbage, and tomatoes in place of industrial fertilizer. The vegetables they produced in these controlled studies were lush, delicious, and the scientists could detect no urine trace.
If you take a moment to get over the grossness factor, using urine as fertilizer really does make sense. Human pee is full of nitrogen, and plants need nitrogen to survive and grow. In fact, nitrogen is one of the most essential plant growth elements, as they use it to synthesize amino acids, enzymes, proteins, and chlorophyll.
Just a note – it is actually not a good idea to use straight urine in your garden as it is too strong and could kill your plants. Use a diluted ratio of 20 parts water and 1 part pee and sprinkle this nutrient-laden liquid at the base of your plants.
Fungus is never good for plants. You may notice that trees and berry bushes tend to develop fungal diseases such as leaf rot and downy mildew in moist environments. Thankfully, the uric acid in pee effectively eliminates fungal spots and restores the health of your plant. Dilute the urine with water by 50% and transfer it to a spray bottle and spray directly onto affected areas.
If the thought of using your pee directly on your plants still seems too weird to you, it can be a useful addition to your compost pile. If you notice that your compost isn’t as hot as it should be, you probably need a little nitrogen and uric acid to speed up the process. Incorporate urine into your compost pile to provide moisture and heat it up. Be sure not to add too much, though, as it is crucial to keep your compost pile at a healthy balance.
As mentioned above, it is important to dilute your pee before using it directly on plants because the acid can burn and kill them if you’re not careful. This same deadly tendency (that would be so harmful to your garden) can be an invaluable asset when trying to eliminate stubborn weeds. Add your urine to a spray bottle and spritz at full strength onto the invasive foliage. The weeds will wither and die in just a few days. No back-breaking weeding or harsh chemicals required.
Male urine collected from the first pee of the day is particularly useful in preventing deer and other unwanted animals from stopping by your garden and munching on all your fresh veggies. If you live in an area with wildlife, you have probably experienced the frustrations of going out to your garden in the morning only to find that you had been robbed of your prized lettuce and tomatoes. Fill a spray bottle with that pungent early-morning pee and spray on trees and fences around your garden. The simple threat of human presence should be enough to scare off even the most dedicated thief.
Depending on your delivery method (guys are at a distinct advantage in this area), you may find it a little difficult to harvest your pee for use in your garden. The rest of the world is miles ahead of the United States when it comes to unique fertilizer options. Many people in European countries are investing in separating toilets that automatically collect your pee for you. Of course, it may take some time for this technology to reach the states, so for now, you may simply have to revert to the classic “peeing in a mason jar” option to gather urine for your plants. A curved funnel may be helpful for the ladies wishing to contribute to the pee collection.
-Susan Patterson, CBHC and Master Gardener