I’m acutely aware that my son’s childhood is passing rapidly. Soon he won’t fit in my arms. He’ll stop running around the house squealing, “I love you, Mama.” Hair will sprout on his toes. So birthdays and milestones can be bittersweet.
Except potty training.
Saying goodbye to diapers has brought only joy, exultation, and delight to our household.
I dreaded it. I kept hearing about different methods, videos, tutorials, and entire books dedicated to the subject. It sounded complex and a little terrifying.
My husband and I procrastinated and braced ourselves for battle. Then a few months ago, Ezra started using the potty … and the whole transition was sort of, well, anticlimactic.
What was your method, you may be wondering. What was his incentive to trade in his trusty old diapers for the porcelain throne? M & M’s? Chocolate chips? Ice cream cones? Well, not exactly, but we did strike a bargain of sorts.
I remembered “Let it Mellow”, a hilarious essay by Melissa Hart, where she relates stumbling upon her “85-year- old great-grandmother hunkered down bare-bottomed under the rosebushes.”
“Pee makes the roses bloom bigger,” she told me when I commented that other octogenarians did their business in the toilet. “Why throw away something useful when it can do good in the world?”
That’s right, we told Ezra that he could use his pee to feed our new cherry tree. He loved the idea, and for months he dutifully marched out with his potty day after day to “feed the tree”. He tired of the activity at some point, and I didn’t think much about it again … until I was out watering the other day.
The grass under this tree is at least five inches taller than the rest of the lawn, and it’s a vibrant shade of emerald. The tree itself is also strikingly healthy, vigorous … robust.
It got me thinking, why aren’t we, like Melissa Hart’s plucky great-grandmother, making use of all of this free fertilizer? So I decided to check in with Google to find out if urinating on the garden is really a good idea.
“Every time we pee, we’re flushing away a valuable source of nitrogen that we could use to fertilize our gardens,” Emma Cooper writes on Green Thumb Articles:
Urine is a sustainable source of nitrogen for gardeners. When it’s fresh, it contains very low levels of pathogens, although it can be acidic and quite salty. It needs to be diluted for use as a liquid fertilizer – at least 5 parts water to 1 part urine, and up to 10 parts water can be used.
Every adult produces between 1 to 3 liters of urine per day – enough to fertilizer around 300 square meters of plants. But if you don’t want to use it directly on plants, then add it to the compost heap – the nitrogen works as a compost activator, speeding up the composting process while adding nutrients to the compost.
The golden rules of using pee in the garden are to make sure it’s fresh. In any case, if you try to store urine the nitrogen gets converted into ammonia gas – making for a nasty smell, as well as letting valuable nitrogen escape.
Josh Peterson also explains on planetgreen.com that, “Urinating outside can save, on average, three gallons of water per water-closet visit.”
So there you have it. Apparently Ezra should have been diluting his homemade fertilizer, but the cherry tree didn’t seem to mind.
Don’t worry, you won’t stumble upon us bare-bottomed in the rose bushes any time soon, but we’ll probably encourage Ezra to continue feeding the trees and flowers. And I think I might have stumbled upon a new potty training “method”. Maybe I should create a tutorial … make a video … write a book.
I’m curious, do you (or would you) use pee to fertilize your garden or supplement your compost pile?