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how best to use urine in the winter  RSS feed

 
                                
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I would love to make the move to a composting toilet, but still being a renter it might be out of the question for a while. However, I have recently started saving my urine and am unsure of the best way to utilize it. I live in the PNW, and I'm wondering how to best use it to prevent all the soluble nitrogen from just washing away with the winter rains. I have mature hazelnut, cherry, apple, and pear trees and was thinking of applying it to those over the winter. I figured I would just use it un diluted and alternate to a different tree each time. Considering the trees are not growing right now, is the nitrogen just going to be washed away? Should I just pour it in my compost pile instead?
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Look for other opinions on this, but I believe that the compost pile will retain nutrients better.

If the soil these trees are growing in is rich in organic matter, bacteria might be active and would retain the nutrients in much the same way that a compost pile would, but it's difficult to be certain of that. Their activity might also remove organic matter from the soil over time.

If your compost pile is sheltered from excess rain, it would be a more stable reservoir of nutrients.
 
                          
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If you are good at cursive honor your wife.
 
                                
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i agree with joel and heres another idea you can experiment with:

fill a five gallon bucket 1/3 to 1/2 full with wood shavings (maybe add a little charcoal).
piss in it
when it looks as though the shavings are starting to reach 3/4 their saturation capacity or it gets too smelly mulch the shavings around a fruit tree.

using the shavings as mulch instead of directly peeing by the tree will slow down the rate of nutrient flow and the nitrogen will be released as the chips decompose rather than when the rain leeches the urine.
 
                                            
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I've been using urine in my garden for several years now. During the winter months I mostly put it into the areas of the garden where the wood chips, sticks and stems are piled the highest and into the compost to maximize its contact with carbon. If I had a lot of sawdust / fine chips I'd do the bucket thing mentioned earlier but we're collecting from 3 adult men and so have a fair bit to deal with. Fortunately the garden has a LOT of durable carbon piled on it to soak it up. Even when our composting toilet is finished next year we will still likely isolate the urine for reuse.
 
paul wheaton
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bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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I think that if you had a covered area that was a big mountain of wood chips - that would be the best place for winter urine.  That way, it doesn't go into the groundwater and, come spring, you will have excellent compost.

 
                    
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what paul said, above is basically all i do. i havent had problems, but i cant speak to benefits either.

i mulch heavy and mark around in different mulch piles. i sometimes get a little lazy and have to remind myself to spread the wealth rather than dropping trou in the easy spot outside the front door... but it isnt turning brown there and doesnt stink and the flowers are lovely in the spring.... and still, I should give more to the trees.

in summer, when its not rianing, i make sure to pee where I will remember to water, so as to not overconcentrate. its easy to get dilution in rain around here (sw washington) to 1pee:7water by spreading it around in the winter, but in the summer it is dry and best ammended by water. or in that woodchip pile for later use as mulch sounds good too. Ill try that next...oh the joy of peeing!
 
                          
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anybody have a problem with the salts in the urine concentrating and killing the victim/benefactor plants?
 
                                      
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Location: Amsterdam, the netherlands
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phooh... is that possible?

in summer i regularly dilute urine 1:10 and put it over N demanding plants.

i have also heard something about urea being good.

it might be the diluting making it harmless?

i actually dont know anything about the salination of soil, i have always understood that it happens in industial agriculture because of overfertilising with chemically made minerals...
 
jacque greenleaf
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"anybody have a problem with the salts in the urine concentrating and killing the victim/benefactor plants?"

My guess is that it is possible to do this, but not likely.

If you had a household of say 10 people, all of whom were peeing directly onto a specific plant, yes, you could kill it.

As long as you make sure to "spread the wealth", whether peeing directly onto plants or spreading diluted urine, I can't imagine how you could kill a plant. If you worry about it, just pee directly into your compost pile.
 
                              
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Location: North West PA, USA
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I never saw where urine killed plants.

Have stored it in plastic 55 gallon drums but that takes up room in a heated building. You can add powder sugar. Some say aged is better but I have no idea why.

This winter I'm testing a 55 gallon drum outside, after the temp stays below freezing, to see if the barrel will survive the winter by just adding small amount to it every day.

I also apply it to a large pile of chopped weeds during the winter.


 
                                
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Some plants are less tolerant of salts than others. Your diet will determine how much salt is in your urine so if you and your housemates moderate your salt intake (which is a good idea anyways because these days everything seems to have salt in it) you should not have to worry about killing plants. if you are already concerned about the salinity of your soil you can take the extra effort to dilute it and spread it.
 
Kahty Chen
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Location: Southern Oregon
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puffergas wrote:
I never saw where urine killed plants.


Is dog urine, the stuff that kills grass, significantly different from human urine?
 
                                  
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I cured a chronic auto-immune disease with urine:  http://billyandanuttama.wordpress.com/the-cure-for-autoimmune-diseases/   Not for the faint of heart
 
                              
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Location: North West PA, USA
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Dogs don't spread it out. Same problem if you dumped a bag a fertilizer on your lawn in one spot.

ndomorph wrote:
Is dog urine, the stuff that kills grass, significantly different from human urine?
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Dog's urine is of a carnivore, so "more concentrated", also nitrogen rich I suppose!

But the only problem with dogs is that they pee ON the plant!
They pee on the leaves, and that the only thing that kills the plant, which is burnt.
 
Jay Green
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It's best used in the winter time to make smiley faces and write messages in the snow.....
 
Clarissa Logsdon
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Kahty Chen wrote:
puffergas wrote:
I never saw where urine killed plants.


Is dog urine, the stuff that kills grass, significantly different from human urine?


People urine kills grass too. My husband pees off of the front porch in the morning in the same spot and the grass there is tan-brown dead.

I need to get him one of those buckets of mulch to use instead of wasting it on the grass... :/
 
Todd Parr
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I planted tillage radishes this year to break up my hard clay soil for planting next spring. As an experiment, I peed on the same radishes daily for 2 months. They are bigger than the others, their color is much deeper green, and they never burned. For the OP, yeah, I would pee in the wood chips.
 
Daniel erline
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I made a earthen berm with clay soil and thats where i have my compost and its mostly filled with sawdust from a local amish sawmill. I pour out a 3 gallon bucket into it 2 times a week. My berm is about 10 ft long and 8 ft wide and filled 2 feet deep. I had a pile before but i was losing much to erosion however the nearby area grew really well The berm seems to hold everything better. I plan to make a greenhouse over it and start another berm next yr. The heat coming from the berm will keep the green house warm to start plants earlier in raised beds. I also dump all my woodash into the berm. My poo get burnt in the wood stove each day all winter long. My summer poo gets composted and buried for later fruit tree plantings 2 yrs later. I do use newspaper to poo into when i grab it and toss it into the wood stove. The composting berm has many veggies growing from it too and i have eaten them. They were vine plants like yellow squash and pumpkins.

http://directory.ic.org/22661/Central_Pa_Mountain_farm___for_Hip_open_minded_people


3 sites proving woodash and urine together make the best fertilzer
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/09/090918-urine-ash-fertilizer.html

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090902112750.htm

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-09/acs-sfu090209.php
 
R Scott
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Kahty Chen wrote:
puffergas wrote:
I never saw where urine killed plants.


Is dog urine, the stuff that kills grass, significantly different from human urine?


It is the hormones in dog urine that kill grass so well, especially female dogs.

 
Kelly King
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Location: North West Vermont - near Saxon Hill
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[quote=Danie Clarke}


3 sites proving woodash and urine together make the best fertilzer
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/09/090918-urine-ash-fertilizer.html

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090902112750.htm

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-09/acs-sfu090209.php
 
Kelly King
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Location: North West Vermont - near Saxon Hill
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Thank you Danie for the link to this article. It had exactly the info I was looking for! (all three sites are referencing the same study)


[quote- from Danie]

3 sites proving woodash and urine together make the best fertilzer

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/09/090918-urine-ash-fertilizer.html

[end quote]


I have been adding ash along with leaves to the pee bucket in my bathroom and wanted to make sure it would be ok for my compost and this article says "YES".

Since I was wondering about logistics when I first learned about bucket toilets I'll share our setup- skip this if you are still at the stage where having a bucket of pee in your bathroom seems gross.

I am currently "harvesting nitrogen" in a 5 gallon bucket in our downstairs bathroom (urine only, we use the conventional toilet for poo at this point) . It is easy and does NOT smell at all (the bathroom is smellier if someone forgets to flush the regular toilet!) The conventional toilet is there for general use, but I've got "buy-in" from 1-2 others in our family of 6 so we're filling the bucket every 2 weeks (there are 2 other toilets upstairs too so this only gets used 1/3 of the time). I've found we don't even need a fancy set-up (there are some really good simple designs here on permies in another forum). We just use a simple recycled 5 gallon bucket. I can just sit on the bucket itself easily enoungh and the guys obviously have no issue. Toilet paper goes into the toilet so that that "yuck" factor is removed when the bucket is emptied....

The pee buckets themselves are ORANGE to distinguish them from other buckets we use around the house.

I use a layer of leaves in the bottom, and we add more as needed so the top of the leaves are always above the moisture level , we add a layer of ashes after every couple uses and I think that helps keep the smell down.

I only have one more bag of leaves left so I may only be able to do this for another month or so. To stretch the covering material I am also collecting fine sawdust from the shop and bark and sawdust from the wood pile... always mixing it in with leaves that way there are some good microbes in the covering material to start the compost process. It was suggested in one forum to not use straight sawdust from lumber since it has no "microbial" properties.

We have a small folding table in the corner for reading material, the orange bucket is just tucked under that and is pulled out to use. I keep a covered bucket of leaves , and a coffee can of ash next to it. No one seems to have noticed the bucket toilet in there, or just assumes it is my worm composting - which had a spot in the bathroom in the past. It just looks like a bucket of leaves or a bucket of ash, depending on the top layer, nothing gross.

Honestly, the bucket has no smell... sometimes you can smell a bit of the leaves, but the kitchen compost is really smelly compared to this. When I am ready to empty the buckets I will often just grab the current kitchen compost container and dump it on top and that usually STINKS. Now... this has all been done in the last month or so only - November and December which are dry and bug free and the downstairs bathroom is on the cool side. I imagine in the summer the microbial action may kick in a bit more so I may have to switch to outdoors, or cover the bucket or both.

When the bucket is 3/4 full I take it out and dump it on my partially constructed hugelkulture pile figuring that the extra nitrogen will help break down the wood.... any input on this?

I got half way through building a hugel when the snow and freezing temps came (currently 3 degrees, -15 below last night). So I've been dumping the buckets on the end that did not get topsoil on it yet. That is the only time I smell the ammonia of the urine and I just make sure to stand up wind. I have a bag of mulch hay out there and so I dump the bucket... throw a couple of handfuls of hay over it to cover. I have 2 paper grain bags I have over it all to keep the snow off and then replace the 2 big pine branches I've been using to keep the hay and grain bags down.

So... that is probably more than anyone wanted to know, but it is the "nitty-gritty" that I glean from other forums and a friend who has been using a bucket toilet for years to put in their "humanure" compost pile - hope it helps.

And thank you again Danie for the link to the research on using urine and ash for fertilizer.

I'd love input on whether dumping this on the hugel is a good idea? My thinking is that I'll stop dumping there in a couple months (it is Jan now) and by the time the snow is gone in April (yes April - northeastern Vermont) it will be fine. I'll throw more branches onto the hugel to finish it, get it covered with a layer of composting horse manure from the neighbors, some soil and will be ready to go.

Thanks so much to the Permies community for all this great information.
 
Abe Noe-Hays
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Location: Putney, Vermont
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I've seen a setup using leaves that made beautiful compost over the winter and spring: a pallet on the ground and about a 4 foot pile of hardwood leaves on top. The pallet was to allow air to circulate under and up into the pile. Urine added on top. Most of the composting surely happened in the spring, and the leaves became a gorgeous, black crumbly compost.

Or if you live near southeast Vermont you can donate your winter urine to the Rich Earth Institute's urine recycling program!
 
Bob Knows
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Good articles. For the past few years I've been using urine to cool off my wood stove ashes bucket because acid urine neutralizes basic. Every couple of weeks I get a small bucket of cooled ashes/urine mixture and have been just getting rid of it. Now after reading these articles I'm going to start spreading it on my lawn or around my trees.

I noticed that the tomatoes in their study didn't grow more tomatoes with ashes than with just urine, but the plants were more healthy and the tomatoes more nutritious. The hard part will be spreading it evenly.

Bob

 
David Livingston
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I am reminded of the advice of the great Frank Zappa .

" You watch out where the eskimos go ,
And dont you eat that yellow snow ."

David
 
Morgan Barker
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Kelly, have you noticed any benefit over the last year to your Hugelkultur bed from adding your urine/ash?
I had experimented this summer on a few select plants in my Hugel bed by creating mulch rings with urine/ash mud. Those plants did grow much larger and greener than their non pissashed counterparts but they seemed to set fruit later and didn't have noticeably larger yields. I did not follow a very good scientific process so my results are purely anecdotal at best.
 
Kelly King
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Location: North West Vermont - near Saxon Hill
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Morgan: This was the first year planting into the hugel and I didn't think it produced that well. This spring I'd added the additional layers of small brush, manure and topsoil then later in the season planted potatoes. They didn't get enough light (need to remove a few more trees) and I've got them in late - so the fact that they were not super is not surprising. I think the urine put on over last winter, will help get things going down inside the hugel.

Abe: I may combine your idea with my hugel and put a thick layer of leaves on one part to dump my buckets on this winter.... I may just use some brush instead of a pallet under the pile.

Another advantage may be that the urine may deter some of the critters burrowing into the hugel... anyone have any ideas on that?

-Kelly
 
Susan Doyon
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great ideas any idea what volume of wood ash and sawdust should be used per litter or gallon of urine ( would be applying to compost pile or rows that have had large amounts compost applied for the last few years ) or for applying as a liquid fertilizer how much wood ash and water should be used to make a good dilution ?

 
Morgan Barker
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I just mixed the two until they were like runny oatmeal. I never really paid attention, I just wanted a consistency that would dribble well around a plant.
 
Susan Doyon
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HMM I wonder if the urine would help repel critters while it was adding nutrients
 
Eric Markov
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Doesn't help deter racoons, rats, or rabbits. At least not the ones grazing my gardens!
 
Susan Doyon
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Thanks Eric , guess I will look at it just as fertilizer and keep draping all my plants with 7'x100 foot deer net strips drives me nuts to come out to plants nibbled to the ground

 
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