Putting the P back in Fertilizer

April 3rd, 2012

So we have come to this, you’ve heard of the “golden rule” but this is perhaps the “golden question” can you use pee to fertilize your garden?

The answer is yes. Not only have you been wasting a perfectly good nitrogen source down your toilet, you’ve also been using water unnecessarily too. My city bills me for water usage, and I figure every time I pee outside I’m saving a nickle while providing free fertilizer to my garden.

For those who do not know, pee is sterile, yes, it is. Unless you have a UTI, it is sterile. Pee is filtered from the blood, not from your colon. Once it gets into the air it can be colonized by bacteria and whatnot, but as it leaves the body, its sterile, you aren’t spreading anything, except good fertilizer. That doesn’t mean, necessarily, that you could drink your pee like an idiot. Urinating is how your body filters your blood, adding the stuff right back in is not healthy. If you’re ever in a survival situation, don’t drink your pee. Just don’t do it. Make a simple solar still, it isn’t hard, you can purify it easily enough, don’t be lazy like Bear Grylls.

Urine is mostly water, with added urea (which is basically nitrogen), some salt, and trace other compounds, nothing dangerous to your garden. It can be acidic though, so you don’t want to actually pee on your plants. Also, just personally, I don’t pee on my vegetable garden. It isn’t dangerous, but that doesn’t mean I want to risk splashing on my food. I’ll grow vegetables in well composted cow manure, which is definitely more gross, and plenty of people will do the deed in the veggie patch, but I won’t. I will pee into my compost and then later use that compost in the vegetable garden, but I let it all compost for awhile of course.

What I like to do is fertilize trees with it. It is a nitrogen fertilizer after all, and if you want a tree to grow bigger it needs nitrogen.

Just make sure to spread it around, chances are your pee is not that acidic, but over time you could affect the soil PH, additionally if your diet if really high in salt you could end up making unwanted salt deposits. The easiest thing to do is to just eat less salt, you’ll be healthier anyways. So what you want to do is find a plant you think could use more nitrogen, and pee around the root zone of it. Easy peesy, you’ll help the plant and lower your water bill. Additionally, anecdotally human urine can act as a repellent for critters that might otherwise come and munch on your garden.

This is so easy to do I recall the country of Australia running some sort of public campaign a few years back trying to get men to use the great outdoors, for them it was about saving water, but I’m sure the lawns loved it too.

If you really wanted to get into this more you could even buy what is called a urine diverting toilet which has been used more in less developed countries but is finding greater use here as well lately. This allows an easier method of indoor collection of urine to be used in the garden. What will they think of next?

The main point I want to get across is that when you’re out gardening, and you feel the urge, you don’t have to go running inside, you’re not only choosing the more convenient option, it is earth friendly too.

10 Responses to “Putting the P back in Fertilizer”

  1. Junius  Says:

    Regarding the blog on peeing as a source of fetilizer another interesting fact. During the period of the Civil War this same material was collected in at least one southern town. Selma Alabama had morning collections from the town of contents produced the night before. The purpose of this was to produce gun powder for the military. It is quite easily done by evaporating the water content of the urine and collection of the residual. Mixing this with a couple of other substances such as charcoal and a very unstable black powder is produced. Don’t try this; I hope you know what “unstable” means. If not let me tell you, EXPLOSION!

  2. door251  Says:


    Love the blog, you def have a new follower.

    I was wondering if you knew what kind of plants are good for heavily shaded gardens? we have a tiny tiny city garden, but it is surrounded by big oak trees which i suspect are sucking the life out of everything, couple that with it not getting an ounce of sun and me being a complete novice, i’ve no idea what to plant in there, everything from last year died.

    thanks for your help!!


  3. Administrator  Says:

    There are almost no edibles that’ll do good in the shade.

    For ornamentals you can grow hostas, ferns, some japanese maples, heucheras, and heucherellas, just to name a few.

  4. Nadirah  Says:

    Yes, easy for a GUY to pee in the garden, but not for a lady! I don’t want my parts that close to the dirt lol

  5. Alexa  Says:

    Dude, my fiancee is going to be so excited he will now have a reason to pee on the plants!

  6. Greg Traver  Says:

    Your article is “spot” on! While in today’s western society this may seem a bit strange and possibly even repulsive to some, urine has been used in many eastern countries for thousands of years. It is also a good supplement for the compost pile as well and reportedly works well for helping to jump start the process.
    Sir Albert Howard, the father of organic farming, spent several decades involved in hands on research involving a variety of crops is different locations and environments. He was an adamant supporter of composting with animal waste and green manuring as the cornerstone to the establishment and maintenance of organic crops. Always looking to develop the most efficient farming systems possible he found that the only thing that worked better than animal waste with composting was the use of human waste.
    Towards the later portion of his career he became quite outspoken about the natural fertilizers that we all produce that are wasted (forgive the pun)
    In the back of his most widely published book, “An Agricultural Testament” he goes so far as to describe how homes could be best situated in relation to each other to make the best use of the available sunlight for individual family gardens and aid the collection of waste. The goal was to achieve sustainable communities. It was a grand idea but unfortunately I think we have ‘progressed’ too far to ever achieve such a synergy with our environment.
    One factor that Sir Albert did not foresee in his time was a society where every household would be so indoctrinated in pharmaceuticals and chemicals as to make such a scenario a toxic nightmare. Indeed, the use of pharmaceutical birth control methods (that use synthetic estrogen) have already wreaked havoc on our water systems to the point that entire species of fish are endangered*
    So unless you are eating healthy food and not taking medications you may want to think twice before ‘watering’ the lawn.
    * “Long Term Exposure to Environmental Concentrations of the Pharmaceutical Ethylnylestradiol Cause Reproductive Failure in Fish” Environmental Perspectives Volume112, Number 17, September 2004

  7. Scott  Says:

    I will gladly admit to fertilizing with urine for years after an introduction to the idea in a Permaculture design course.

    Great post. Thanks for spreading the power of P(ee)!

  8. JoeBob  Says:

    Great article–I’ve used urine in a liquid lawn fertilizer concoction from a Jerry Baker recipe and had very good results–greenest grass ever. Also tried it straight as an animal repellant but the groundhog didn’t get the message–just the squash, cantalopes, watermelon, etc….

  9. Pat  Says:

    Hi Chris,
    Just discovered your blog so I will have alot or catching up to do. Lots of info to delve into.
    My husband has been an avid urine fertilizer spreader since I met him. I always thought it would be too salty and harm the plants, glad to find out otherwise. I will stop back by!!

  10. Chet Stentiford  Says:

    I think I’ll continue to use my porcelain bowl to dispose of my bodily fluids. lol

    It inevitably goes into local sewage facilities, and in many cases does good for local communities as a compost additive, or it is sold to precessing plants that turn it into organic fertilizer IE: “Milorgnanite”

    Here in Massachusetts, we used to have a wonderful organic fertilizer called “Electra” which was made by Universal Chemical in Lynn,Ma.

    Unfortunately Universal Chemical is no longer in business and organic gardeners lose a great re-processed sewer sludge fertilizer.

    I used it professionally for years with wonderful, safe results.

    A great product that is greatly missed by discerning gardeners all over…Time marches on and things change.

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