My family puts up with some very odd requests from me, but this one takes the cake. I’ll be honest, my boys were happy to oblige. It’s not often they are granted permission to pee outdoors since we live in a fairly populated area. The husband and the daughter were a harder sell. I don’t think I’ve won them over yet. It’s okay though because every drop helps.
Why do I want them to pee in the compost?
According to an article by National Geographic, scientists believe they can turn human urine into liquid gold for gardens. It’s rich in nitrogen and it’s, of course, free. As someone who is both thrifty and chemical-conscientious, peeing in the compost seems like a winner to me. As a pregnant woman, I am happy to make contributions to the garden 20+ times a day. What is amazing is that researchers calculate that each individual produces enough urine to fertilize enough vegetable plants for one person. How cool is that?!
The Effects of Pee on Compost & Gardens
In addition to the obvious nitrogen, human urine also contains phosphorus and potassium, which are essential in plant health. If you include wood ash in your compost, you’ve replicated most commercial fertilizers without the harmful chemicals. A study done with beets showed that beets fertilized with straight urine were 10% larger than unfertilized beets, and beets fertilized with urine and wood ash were 27% larger. A blind taste test was performed (after a good cleaning) and the beets described as very flavorful.
When added to the compost bin, undiluted human urine reduces the time it takes for carbons to break down and increases the nutrient values in the completed compost. To add pee right to your garden, instead of to your compost bin, be sure to dilute to a 10:1 ratio. Urine can be collected in mason jars, or if you are coordinated (or male) you can pee straight into the bin.
Know Your Pee
Although sterile, urine can pose some minor risks, so it’s important to know where your pee is coming from. Certain medications can be found in trace amounts in the urine. Most researchers agree that the amounts are so minimal as to be inconsequential, but I’d err on the side of caution and collect pee from those you know and love.
Some Bathroom Reading Material (I couldn’t help myself)
Liquid Gold: The Lore and Logic of Using Urine to Grow Plants by Carol Steinfeld
Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living by Rachel Kaplan and Ruby Blume
The Urban Food Revolution: Changing the Way We Feed Cities by Peter Ladner
Teaming with Nutrients: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to Optimizing Plant Nutrition by Jeff Lowenfels
The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach by Ben Falk
Join the peecycling revolution and add urine to your compost bin. Your vegetable gardens will thank you for it.