Fact 1: Human urine is an excellent source of nitrogen for your garden. It can be applied directly to a compost pile, or diluted 10:1 and used on plants.
Fact 2: Nature has equipped the male of the species in such a manner that it is easy for him to contribute nitrogen to the compost pile. For women, it’s a bit more tricky.
So, how do ladies give back to the soil?
Yesterday we had a comment from an anonymous female reader, telling us how she adds urine to her compost pile. She uses an inexpensive funnel from an auto-supply store. (Auto parts for lady parts?)
The advantage of this type of funnel over, say, a kitchen funnel, is that it has a very long nose or nozzle. This, she explained, allows her to neatly direct the urine into a watering can. Very smart.
I wondered if other female readers out there had tried-and-true methods for urine collection that they’d be willing to share? I’m terrible at it, myself.
This is particularly pertinent for Erik and I right now because, as regular readers know, we’re trying out this strawbale garden thing. We can help to get the bales going by peeing on them.
But there’s a lot of bales, and Erik only has so much pee. My contributions would be useful. Plus, this method of gardening is undeniably water hungry. I feel like we should partially offset this expenditure by conserving water as much as we can.
One simple way to save water is to stop flushing the toilet so much. And if all our pee went outside, it would not only save water, but it also would add water and nitrogen to the soil. Win-win.
Now, I imagine our more feisty readers will ask, why stop at pee? We’re big supporters of the humanure concept and have kept a dry toilet in the past. It’s not difficult to compost human waste , but you do have to be careful, and you need a dedicated humanure pile–more than one, really. More like three. We just don’t have room for that right now.
But there’s a compromise solution. I call it Halfway Humanure. It’s easy to institute a urine-only dry toilet in your home or yard.
That means you get yourself a five gallon bucket and one of those camping toilet seats which snaps onto a five gallon bucket. Or you build yourself a deluxe model, like ours. You put a nice cushion of sawdust or wood shavings or crushed dried leaves or whatever works for you at the bottom of the bucket (maybe 3-4″) and start using it. Top it off with a sprinkle of dry stuff each time you use it. Keep the lid closed. It will not stink.
Reserve #2 for the flush toilet. This keeps things simple. If you’re only collecting urine, you don’t have to be a talented composter. And for the flush-toilet trained, it’s much easier to pee in a bucket than to poop in a bucket. It’s just not such a big psychological leap. (It’s actually a great stepping stone to full humanure composting, if that’s your goal).
The material you collect can go straight onto your regular compost pile–no special treatment required–and it’s a valuable resource.
So, to sum up this meandering post, while Erik is “watering” the straw bales, I think I’m going to be collecting my nitrogen inputs in the dry toilet. (That it, unless I trot myself down to the AutoZone and get myself a funnel.) Both of us, in our different ways, will be contributing to the fertility of our garden.