Heed the call of nature to benefit your garden

Orange County RegisterDecember 7, 2012 

Plenty of folks have been snickering about a recent story from The Chapel Hill News, one of The N&O’s community newspapers:

“CARRBORO – Roy Mars was peeing in his compost last weekend – it adds nitrogen – when he looked up and saw something streak across the sky.”

The story by Mark Schultz was about a UFO sighting. But the buzz about the article wasn’t because of the spaceships, but about peeing in the compost.

Really? Anyone who has been gardening for a while knows that peeing in the compost is the thing to do.

Uric acid speeds up the compost process and gets you to the end product faster. Even the National Trust in England provides “pee bales” in strategic places in public gardens and parks that the male horticulture staff can use.

While it is a great compost activator, peeing in the actual garden is still being explored.

PopScience says urine is a high-quality plant food rich with nitrogen, potassium and phosphate, much like any all-around organic fertilizer is. And it’s free.

Scientists in Finland reported a fourfold increase in tomato crops fed with urine and wood ash.

Anecdotal reports in the rose-growing community say urine does wonders for these beauties. And the Washington Post reported the fantastic results urine had on cabbage crops.

The National Geographic says, “Researchers estimate a single person could supply enough urine to fertilize roughly 6,300 tomato plants a year – yielding some 2.4 tons of tomatoes.”

Like anything in the fertilizer aisle, the key is not using too much. Urea can burn plant tissues and, because it’s mostly nitrogen, it will promote green growth, not flowering.

As far as compost goes, urine serves as the green component in the green-to-brown ratio. The ideal mix for fast compost is 50 percent brown to 50 percent green. You have to watch the pile. If you’ve got too much nitrogen, you’ll know because it will smell.

Peeing directly in the garden is different. Goveganic.net says once or twice a month per plant is plenty. And keep moving. Not into the front yard though, or you can wind up in the slammer on indecency charges.

The backyard is all yours.

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