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Any good sources of free nitrogen?

 
Algernon Gordon
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Carbon is easy to come by for me but not nitrogen. I don't have much lawn and when I do mow it, I use mulching blades.

I save my kitchen scraps but they don't amount to the massive quantities I will need for the amount of compost I want. I do have an arrangement with some local coffee shops where they save me their grounds and I pick them up frequently. It's working well but I still want more nitrogen.

Curious to see if any of you have tips for free nitrogen sources?

The first thing that came to mind was more food scraps (since they are such a good nitrogen source) so I asked one of the local grocery stores what they do with all their produce department waste (expired/rotten vegetables, trimmings, etc). He said they just put them in plastic trash bags and throw them in the dumpster along with everything else in the store. I don't think they would be willing to segregate the produce dept stuff from the rest of the stuff, and I'd have to dig through the dumpster (meat and dairy dept waste etc) so I don't think this is a great idea. What would be very ideal is a food distributor of some sort.....something where everything is already in boxes and just didn't get sold in time. I just have no idea how to find one.

Any ideas? Thanks in advance!
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
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I've had success with talking to both restaurants and grocery stores about their vegetable waste.

For a long time, when there was a restaurant associated with the farmer's market closest to me, I would supply them with a trash bin and they would put all their green waste in there. I would collect it at a specified time each day (critical for maintaining a good relationship!).

I also befriended one of the produce managers at our local grocery (a larger store). I would pick up from them at a specified time on the days that particular manager was working. This relationship took more time to nurture because the store was part of a large chain and they had some regulations around distributing "wastes" products.

I have now morphed into an even easier system as my across-the-street neighbor works for a CSA. She brings me all the green waste generated by packing up the shares.

You might talk to a lawn service/landscape service in your area - that might be a good resource.
 
Lynsey Nico
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Location: Copenhagen
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Most people don't like to hear it, but urine is 12% nitrogen! I plant clover all over my garden as "green manure," but peecycling is also reliably good source of nitrogen, and also reduces water waste from toilet flushing.

NPK ratio of about 11-1-2

http://www.nwedible.com/2013/03/how-to-use-pee-in-your-garden.html

 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Lynsey - GOOD ONE! Everybody pees!
 
Lynsey Nico
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And the bonus is, you can treat fungal disease in fruit trees with a winter spray of diluted urine . It's also a compost activator! So many uses for urine in the garden! lol

http://www.small-farm-permaculture-and-sustainable-living.com/fruit_trees_and_homemade_pest.html
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Another source that I've used is human and pet hair. I've actually asked for the clippings/shavings when I've gone to get my hair cut or the cat shaved for summer. In my climate, it takes awhile to break down but it is a good source of nitrogen. It can also be used as mulch.
 
Renate Howard
pollinator
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Location: zone 6b
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Bunny poop is awesome, and lots of people with pet rabbits don't use it. Find some of them and haul their bunny poop for them every few weeks! It's one of the few kinds of manure that won't burn plants and can be applied fresh from the source.

http://riseandshinerabbitry.com/2012/03/31/the-benefits-and-uses-of-rabbit-manure/ "Benefits and Uses of Rabbit Manure"

It has the highest N ratio of all the kinds of livestock manure!
 
Terri Matthews
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Location: Eastern Kansas
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I worked at a riding stable when I was a teen: They used to give away manure to anyone who would come and shovel it up and take it away.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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Is this for compost?

Traditionally, people built bird houses or dove cotes to have a concentrated, easy access spot for their manure.
 
Lynsey Nico
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Yeah I forgot to mention hair! My mother in-law is a hairdresser: you can get hair from hairdressers or dog groomers, provided it isn't too treated or fried. It takes about two years to break down, but it provides a good scaffolding for roots, is high in nitrogen, and bonus: rats and cats don't like the smell of it, so they stay away from your garden. I wouldn't apply it directly to vegetables without first having it in a thermal compost pile to kill any human diseases, but otherwise it's great.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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My shearer told me wool makes an excellent mulch, must be high in N too.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I once used a good quantity of pet hair in a garden. I worked it in but a little was left on the surface. Birds gathered it for their nests. The swallows nested 30 ft from the garden, so in a round about way the hair helped with pest control.

A friend was into growing exotic flowers in his greenhouse. He had me attach wooden siding to his shed, using spacers to turn the gap into bat housing. Little metal trays caught the bat poop which was used to fertilize his flowers. The swallows were given really nice spots to nest away from doorways. Metal trays caught their poop as well. Every year he put on a mask and gathered the old nests and feathers. No bug problems in Ted's garden.
 
Joe Camarena
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All coffee shops have lots of spent coffee grounds to give away daily. I go to a local shop and get 1-10lbs each visit. Co-ordinate the best time with the staff ad reap the rewards of free nitrogen.

Joe
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
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Location: northern California
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Coffee grounds are a special resource, affording additional yields directly before being sent to compost or soil. One reason for this is that they are often semi-sterile, having been boiled, and thus can make an easy substrate for mushroom cultivation. The other use that comes to mind right off is as food for black soldier flies, which then provide feed for poultry or fish.
 
jerry royce
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When I pick up the coffee grounds at the shop can I keep them in the filters and put it all into my compost bin? Also my worm farm?
 
John Polk
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Those filters break down well in compost. I don't know if the worms will eat them, but if not, you can just remove them once the coffee grounds are gone.

 
Jeanne Wallace
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Location: Cache Valley, Northern Utah (zone 6a, 4,900 elevation)
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We use urine diluted 20 parts water to 1 part urine, and only collect from humans not on prescription medications. We use 5 gallon buckets and purchased a plastic seat with lid (used for camping) to make a portable-potty for easy collection. Lid closes for odor control. Use a durable marker to indicate on the exterior of the bucket the "collection level" for urine and where 20 parts water level is....this makes it easy to get the dilution right each time. The diluted free nitrogen is applied to fruit / nut trees on our edible landscape, and also to the compost pile when it needs nitrogen boost. Because it can have an anti fungal effect, we apply it only at drip line around ¼ to ½ of tree perimeter (so as not to unduly disturb fungal duff). Works great for us to have an on-farm source of nitrogen with less risk of toxins.

We got our lid for around $10 on amazon, search "Honey Bucket Portable Toilet Seat Cover". Camping stores carry them too.
Filename: honey bucket.tiff
Description: Lid converts 5-gallon bucket to comfy seat for urine (nitrogen) collection
File size: 238 Kbytes
[Download honey bucket.tiff] Download Attachment
 
Shaun Wheatcroft
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It sounds disgusting but your own pee really is an amazing source of nitrogen, watered down. It also has many other amazing uses, such as making invisible ink, clean drinking water and even fuel! There's load here: 10 Great Ways To Recycle Your Wee - http://redshed.co.uk/blog/10-great-ways-to-recycle-your-wee/
 
Sean Banks
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1. Roadkill (loaded with macro and micro nutrients)
2. Kelp (if you live by an ocean)
3. Hair/feathers (ask barber/poultry farm)
4. Urine
5. Manure (can use human manure)
6. Offal (ask butcher)

Most of these need to be hot composted....roadkill is a great source of nitrogen that is easily obtainable. So far I have composted an opossum, squirrel, chipmunk, and bird.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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