• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Urine, a lot of trouble? Or a good idea?  RSS feed

 
Jean Soarin
Posts: 47
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba (zone 3)
1
food preservation hugelkultur urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi.  I'm a relative newcomer to these forums, though I've been living frugally and gardening for a few years now, and trying to apply some basic permaculture principles in what I do.  I've noticed a few places where people write about using urine, mostly with compost and in the garden. 

I'd like to know more, because it seems that it can burn certain crops, but others can't get enough.  What does urine bring to the garden?  And how do you use it?  Is there anywhere you shouldn't use it?

This is one of those free resources I've been flushing down the toilet for years.  How can I put it to better use?
 
James Freyr
Posts: 214
Location: Middle Tennessee
11
books cat chicken food preservation toxin-ectomy
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Urine has decent amounts of nitrogen and you can pee on your compost pile to add a little more if the compost has excess carbon ingredients that have yet to break down and it is burning through nitrogen from the other "green" inputs.
 
Casie Becker
garden master
Posts: 1405
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
104
forest garden urban
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Urine is actually packed with a lot of micronutrients in addition to the nitrogen. When I use it I dilute it with. Nothing horrible precise, I just have a small bucket that I mix between a cup an a pint of urine and then fill the rest of the way with rain water. I've never had anything show signs of being burned, but my soil tends to be very nitrogen deficient, and this bucket slowly makes the rounds of a large garden.
 
Roberto pokachinni
pollinator
Posts: 1214
Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
77
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Urine is a great idea!  !!!     And not so much trouble.  The greatest trouble is the social stigma/cultural ignorance.

As Casie said, dilute it and you wont get anything 'burnt'.   In the book Solviva, A Eddy wrote that she diluted urine with 10 parts water and straight to the plants.  I tend to target 10 to 1..  I've read of others doing 7 parts water with no bad effect. I'm not scientific about it either, but tend to dilute more than concentrate.

In the common layered kitchen compost, or in the initial build of a productive more scientific hot compost, or on your hugulkultur wood (when you are building it) you can add without dilution; As James wrote, the high carbon is then balanced by the nitrogen in the urine. 

Urine is also useful for inoculating biochar; the char has the added benefit of neutralizing the odor.

Urine is also very useful as a fungicide against cucumber mildews.  Spray a diluted mist (7 or more parts water) onto your cucumber leaves and soil. 
 
Jean Soarin
Posts: 47
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba (zone 3)
1
food preservation hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks, Roberto.

Every year, I fight powdery mildew, which attacks my squash plants with a vengeance.  I'm not big on cucumbers, but I plant as much winter squash as I have space for.  And then I pray to be able to harvest most of my squash before the PM devastates the leaves.   The milk spray works to an extent, but never quite does the trick.  In your experience, does diluted urine give better results?

I know nothing about bio char yet.  I'll have to start reading up on that.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1363
Location: northern California
43
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I use all of mine and my partner's urine on our land.  Not to do so is a significant nutrient leak from the system and you don't want that.  I apply it before planting, undiluted, and also on pasture areas; and diluted four or five parts to one in water on nitrogen-hungry crops (brassicas, nightshades, and corn come first to mind).  My partner's urine, which may contain menstrual blood, etc.; goes onto a compost pile, along with the toilet paper that also ends up in the container.  I have a separate jug at the humanure bucket, and separate the urine out at point of origin, since urine is basically sterile from a healthy person and can be used judiciously on food crops (though I won't put it on things like salad crops), whereas humanure needs a thorough and prolonged composting and more careful thought as to appropriate points of use.  There is plenty of information about all of this, both here and elsewhere. 
 
Roberto pokachinni
pollinator
Posts: 1214
Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
77
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes, all the cucurbitaceae benefit from the diluted urine spray.  I can't compare this to milk, as I haven't tried milk.  But urine works.  I spray the leaves and soil before I even see the first signs, and I don't have problems.
 
Casie Becker
garden master
Posts: 1405
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
104
forest garden urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That's new information for me. I wonder if it would help with fungal diseases on the roses, too. I haven't been doing this regularly, but if it can prevent powdery mildew, that will be more motivation.
 
Marco Banks
Posts: 498
Location: Los Angeles, CA
41
books chicken food preservation forest garden hugelkultur trees urban woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The NKP rates of human urine is 11 - 1 - 2.

That's relatively hot (in terms of nitrogen) but most mature plants can handle that straight up.  If using for seedlings and small plants, yes, dilute it.  But for trees, or for mature N pigs like tomatoes, I just pee straight on the ground near the base of the plant.  I don't pee near the same tomato vine more than once every two weeks, nor do I drain the entire tank on one plant --- you spread the wealth around a bit.  But for citrus trees who can't seem to get enough N, you could pee around the same tree two times a day, every day ---- the tree would only get more and more happy.

I never waste an ounce of it, if at all possible.  There are times when we are coming home from somewhere and I know we've got an hour drive before we arrive.  I'll hold it and wait until I get home before I relieve myself.  Waste not, want not.

It's not just about the NKP, but, as James has mentioned above, there are all sorts of micronutrients in urine that the soil and your plants need.  Urine doesn't just feed the plants, but it benefits the entire soil food web.  Where as chemical fertilizers kill microbial life, urine jumpstarts it.  Urine on a compost pile is exactly what the microherd wants.

Granted, it's much easier for guys to walk around the garden and pee than it is for women, but if at all possible, why flush 2.5 gallons of perfectly good drinking water down the drain, along with that shot of natural fertilizer?  Lets say that you pee 6 times a day, and you are able to put 5 of those pees out in the garden.  For each piss, you'd fertilize 2 plants. 

You would save 12.5 gallons of water and fertilizing 10 plants a day: 87.5 gallons of water and 70 plants a week.  That's a lot of water and a lot of nutrients being transferred into your garden.  Over the course of a year, that's 4500 gallons of water saved.  That's like half a swimming pool worth of water.

Permaculture isn't about just doing one thing, but it's a design science where you do a number of small things that contribute to the health of the entire system.  Recycling urine is just one small thing, but the cumulative effects of doing this will be significant over the long haul.

Best of luck.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1363
Location: northern California
43
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Another hint is that in Georgia I found out by trial and error that a dilute spray of urine was one of the few things that would reliably repel an armadillo from digging up my garden.  These critters do not eat plants or roots, but rather the grubs and worms in the soil, and they will upturn any amount of mulch and destroy beds in their industrious search.  They cannot be trapped with conventional bait or traps, and are difficult to fence out.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 926
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
107
books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thumbs up on using urine. Urine from a healthy individual is sterile and safe. But personally I wouldn't use urine if the person was taking certain medications or had a urinary track infection of some sort.

When I'm working around the farm, I have no problems with peeing right in the field. My soil has a decent load of micro organisms so it can handle full strength urine with no issue. Up at the house I collect my own urine in a gallon jug (I use a funnel). Pee once (or twice), then fill the jug with water, go water a plant with it. That way I don't store the urine, it doesn't breakdown or get stinky, and I remember to use it. Hubby prefers to pee directly outdoors. He just picks a different tree each day and kind if spreads it around. Sort of like little boys writing their name in the snow, eh?

I surely don't see any sense in wasting a great resource such as urine.

I've never heard about using it for mildew control on plants, but I surely plan to give it a try right away. My cukes just started with the first spots of mildew, so now the time to test it. Hope it helps.
 
Jean Soarin
Posts: 47
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba (zone 3)
1
food preservation hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Up here in zone 3, I don't have to worry about armadillo damage or unhappy citrus tree, but I will start collecting urine  and putting it back into the system. 

I've gotten great answers to my initial question, so thanks to everyone who's contributed to this thread.  But let's keep this going to see what other interesting uses people have found for human urine.
 
Steve Mendez
Posts: 21
1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Urine makes a pretty good organic herbicide.
We've had problems with elms growing up around the pvc pipes that supply water to the tadpole troughs. We can't use the string trimmer around the pipes, and the elms just sprout up from the stubs anyway. I tried pulling them but the roots were entangled with the pipes underground. Five or six applications of fresh urine killed them. I must admit, it is fairly satisfying to watch them die slowly of nutrient overload.
 
Robert Pavlis
author
Posts: 19
Location: Ontario, Canada
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
the NPK numbers are not as high as quoted above.

Urine is a good source of nitrogen and it is usually sterile as it is leaving the body. With certain illnesses it is not sterile, and even if it is sterile, it quickly picks up microbes as soon as it exits the body. These facts should not be a concern in the compost pile. It is a good additive.
Note: April 2016: After some further checking, I believe the above statement “is usually sterile as it is leaving the body” is not correct. Urine is sterile until it enters the urethra, at which point it gets contaminated. So it is not sterile when it leaves the body.

The picture above is a device, called the urinare, that might make it easier to get all of your friends to contribute urine at your next party. Just push the special spouts into a straw bail, and starting collecting.

Urine contains 0.9% urea, or about 0.4% nitrogen. It also contains 0.1% potassium, so it’s fertilizer numbers are 0.4 – 0 – 0.1. Unfortunately it also contains 0.2% sodium which can be toxic to plants.

Urine is good on the compost pile or applied directly to the garden as long as it is used in moderation.

http://www.gardenmyths.com/the-full-scoop-on-composting-poop/
urine-and-straw-equals-compost.jpg
[Thumbnail for urine-and-straw-equals-compost.jpg]
 
Nick Kitchener
Posts: 476
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You could always do this...
 
Sarah Houlihan
Posts: 77
Location: Central Maine
2
hugelkultur tiny house trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think I'm going to attach one of those hay bail urinal things to the back of a tree bog type outhouse, for when you are in a hurry.  It could be in a small stall behind the main pooper.  The main pooper would have the beautiful view, for when you had time to enjoy it. 
 
Jean Soarin
Posts: 47
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba (zone 3)
1
food preservation hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm imagining the hay bale urinaire at a church or family picnic... 
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!