There are lots of organic fertilizers out there: Fish emulsions, corn gluten meal, guano. Many of these fertilizers (all that I listed above with the exception of the guano) are by-products of some other industry. Still, they need to be shipped from somewhere to somewhere to get to our garden and so they cost energy — and of course they cost us money. But there is a high nitrogen fertilizer that you can use which doesn’t come from a long way away, and that’s pee. Holly mentioned using pee to help compost piles of stray a few months ago (you can find the news story on the right side of this blog), and I, for one, think it’s a great idea. But really, pee can be used as a fertilizer without the compost.
Yesterday I was working on a project and decided to goof off a little by figuring out how much nitrogen was actually in urine. Here’s the conclusion — Urine contains about 4,000 pats per million nitrogen. In terms of what plants can handle, that’s a lot (which is why dogs produce “dog spots” when they pee on a small area of ground — too much nitrogen in a small area). 400 parts per million nitrogen, applied once a week in irrigation water, is what you might apply to encourage the growth of greenhouse plants. Urine, by the way, is also relatively sterile (unless you’re dealing with a bladder infection) and so using urine is relatively safe as long as it’s used quickly. It also conserves water because you don’t need to flush. So, the way I figure it, you could mix 1 part urine with 9 parts water and have a really good once a week (or two weeks) fertilizer application for your flowers (I don’t know if I could bring myself to fertilize cabbage, broccoli, or tomatoes with it…). You’d be saving yourself the cost of fertilizer, saving the environmental cost of shipping the fertilizer you might otherwise purchase, saving water, and you’d have something unique to tell your gardening friends about. Win – win situation as far as I’m concerned.