Should you pee on your plants ?

Photo credit: Huffington Post


Discover the incredible benefit of urine in the backyard

by Jean Nick, for Rodale’s Organic Life

Depending on which gardening circles you hang with, the concept of urine in the garden may already have surfaced as a discussion topic. So what’s the deal? Should you seriously pee on your peas, tinkle on your tomatoes, and take a leak on your lettuce?

Related: Is People Poop Good For Plants?

Well, not on them, exactly, but if you aren’t using your urine in your garden and on your compost pile, you are, pardon my French, pissing away a free, valuable resource and missing out an easy way to help close the gaping hole in your household nutrient cycle. Using urine in the garden can help you cut your water use (less flushing) while also cleaning up the environment downstream (no water-polluting fertilizer runoff).

Your #1 Choice For Fertilizer
Recent scientific studies have shown urine is a safe and very effective fertilizer for cabbage, beets, cucumbers, and tomatoes, and pretty much anything else you want to grow. Urine boasts a nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (N-P-K) ratio of 10:1:4, plus more modest amounts of the trace elements plants need to thrive. The nutrients in pee are highly available to plants, too—an extra plus. One estimate suggests a family of four can produce the equivalent of more than 100 pounds of all-purpose garden fertilizer every year. Oh, and the best part? It’s free! Oh, be still, my nickel-pinching heart!

Related: The 10 Best Garden Crops to Plant This Summer

But ewwww…yuck! Is it safe? Yes! Unless you have a serious infection, urine is usually sterile, and the chances of disease transmission from it on the household level are very, very small. And any slight odor dissipates almost immediately once it’s applied to the soil. While we’re not suggesting you drink your urine, know that astronauts on the International Space Station do drink the stuff—after it’s purified. So comparatively speaking, sprinkling it on the soil in the garden is a pretty tame use.

How To Use Your Very Own Garden Gold (Free Deliveries Daily!)

Read the full article: Huffington Post

The basic NPK of Organic Fertilizers (Dave’s Garden)

Read at : Dave’s Garden Weekly Newsletter

The basic NPK of Organic Fertilizers


By Glynis Ward (girlgroupgirl)
May 19, 2008

Home gardeners can easily turn to more organic means of sustaining their gardens with all the current interest in going “green”. Most garden centers, feed stores, nurseries and hardware stores are carrying more organic elements that make organic fertilizing easy. All it takes is a few ingredients to have a complete fertilizer that also contains oodles of “micro nutrients” not normally available in chemical fertilizers – plus the benefit of improved soil composition and microbial life.

Organic fertilizers are basically fertilizers made out of something that was once alive. They are decomposed living matter and will decompose more and release their nutrients in the soil. Non-organic fertilizers, those that are man made are chemical compounds are carried into the soil by salt. When the salt dissolves in water, the nutrients are made available to the plant. Chemical fertilizers, as well as most organic fertilizers are rated by their N-P-K rates. That is how much N=Nitrogen, P=Phosphorus and K=Potassium is contained in the bag. Home compost from vegetative matter usually has fairly low rates of all of these elements, which is why you can add a lot more of it to your soil than you do any other fertilizer. In general, home compost is usually considered more of a “soil amendment” than a fertilizer when applied in a small amount. Remember, any bag of fertilizer you buy will tell you how much you need to spread over a specific area to get the proper NPK value listed on the label. Nitrogen helps plant growth – plants and soil need just enough and not too much. Phosphorus provides the means for growth and flower bloom and potassium helps plants make fruit and also to stave off disease. Continue reading The basic NPK of Organic Fertilizers (Dave’s Garden)

Salt for the Earth : fundamental recycling (Dave’s Garden)

Read at : Dave’s garden Weekly Newsletter

Salt for the Earth – The most fundamental recycling ever!

By LariAnn Garner (LariAnn)
April 16, 2008

As important as recycling is to the sustainability of life on this planet, one form of recycling may be the least recognized, and yet the most critically important, of all. Here I’ll share about what could very well be the fundamental and primary recycling activity we can engage in for our gardens and farms. . .

Does your soil need a pinch of this?

Of all the inorganic substances, salt is probably the most familiar to us. It comes out of us in sweat, it goes into us via seasoning on food, and it swirls around us when we swim at the beach. We are so familiar with it that we scarcely realize how much we don’t know about it.

While table salt, or sodium chloride, is what comes to mind when the word “salt” is spoken, natural salt is so much more than merely a single compound. It is precisely the knowledge of the true nature of natural salt, or more accurately, salts, that leads us inevitably to a truth that has eluded most of us as gardeners, and yet is so obvious as to be almost silly in its simplicity. Continue reading Salt for the Earth : fundamental recycling (Dave’s Garden)

Plastic bottles and bags: precious jewels for container gardening (Willem)

On September 12th, 2007 Riziki SHEMDOE sent the following message :

“I have been reading on the container gardening experiments that you have been doing. This has encouraged me to put up a proposal on introducing this technology to the rural semiarid areas of Tanzania where normally crop production is very poor due to drought and poor soil fertility. I am requesting to know whether there are some best practices from the third world countries that you have come across regarding the use of this technology in improving rural food security and poverty alleviation? I will be grateful if you share with me some of the best practices so that I may use them to strengthen my proposal. I look forward to reading from you.
Kindest regards,
Riziki. “

Riziki Silas Shemdoe (MSc)
Institute of Human Settlements Studies,
University College of Lands and Architectural Studies
P.O.Box 35124 Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Here is my reply :

The easiest and most practical way for people in developing countries to practice container gardening is to collect a large number of plastic (PET) bottles and plastic shopping bags. It’s clean and cheap. Moreover, it helps to take care of our environment !

The plastic bottles should be cut in two : a shorter bottom part (the cup, used as a water tank) and a longer top part (with the stop still on), to be filled with potting soil. In order to cut the bottle in two optimal parts, define the length of the two parts approximately so that, turning over the top part (that will contain potting soil later on) and sliding it into the bottom part, the stop is touching or almost touching the bottom of the cup. If this is not the case the bottle will be rather unstable. Then, a small slit should be cut at the edge at two opposite sides of the bottom cup so that the top part of the bottle can be pushed into the cup until the stop reaches the bottom (short slits will open a bit). It is better to have the bottom cup a bit too long than too short (stability). One can always cut the two slits !

The bottleneck should be perforated at two opposite sides, close to the stop, to create drainage possibilities if too much water is poured in the bottle and to create water absorption possibilities from the bottom cup. Holes of 5 mm diameter are sufficient.

When filling up the inverted top part with potting soil, the soil should be well compressed in order to avoid larger air cavities in the bottle. I recommend to mix a water stocking soil conditioner with the potting soil, but if this is not possible for financial constraints, don’t hesitate to do it without.

During the first days, watering should be abundant to eliminate too much air in the potting soil. As the infiltrating surplus of water will run through the two openings in the bottleneck into the bottom cup (water tank), and as evaporation will be limited (only through the top opening of the bottle), one can save a lot of irrigation water and produce significantly more biomass with less water (less leaching of nutrients from the potting soil, and less evaporation).

Isn’t this a nice solution for some of our main environmental problems in the drylands ?
The same advantages are offered when growing vegetables or young trees in the classical plastic shopping bags.

Fill up a plastic bag with potting soil for 2/3, and keep the two handles of the bag upright, simply by pushing them up and sustaining them with two pieces of a small branch or another support (one at each side of the bag). Thus, a shallow cavity is created above the potting soil in which water can be poured from time to time.

Don’t forget to perforate the lower part of the plastic bag a couple of times at the two opposite sides of the bag, e.g. 2-3 little holes (not slits !) at both sides approximately 1-3 cm ( 0.5 – 1 inch) above the bottom (and not in the bottom itself, so that a bit of water can be kept temporarily in the bag). Vegetables can be seeded or planted in the potting soil. Young tree seedlings can also be grown in such a simple plastic bag.

Considerable advantages :

(1) more biomass with less water (because of less leaching and less evaporation).

(2) eliminate plastic from the environment by burying the used plastic bottles and bags at the end of the growing season, e.g. when planting the tree seedlings in a planting hole (ecological cleaning).

Caution : avoid heating in the bottles or bags by keeping them in half-shade or in places where the number of hours of sunshine is limited (not a full day).

Please set up some experiments and discover the real advantages of gardening in plastic bottles and bags, not in the least the provision of food security and the alleviation of poverty. That’s what I call a success story or best practice for sustainable rural development. I hope that once my preaching in the desert will be heard.

PS. Have a look at my former postings to discover pictures and drawings.



“Thank you so much, Prof., for the explanations and the methodological approaches. I will try something in this area. This will really relieve our poor people in the dryland-areas to improve their nutrition. Similarly this will assist in improving the environmental sanitation by giving use values to the plastic bottles that are being thrown everywhere in our cities. Thank you.

Planting mix for containers (Google Alert / The Union)

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Google Alert – gardening

The Union – Nevada County Local News

Container gardening: Soil is king

By Carolyn Singer
» More from Carolyn Singer
12:01 a.m. PT Aug 18, 2007

Early in the summer, the deer discovered the choice selection of plants on my porch. Gone was the beautiful white Impatiens in a blue container. In the same meal, my cherished red Begonia and scarlet pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) also disappeared. I should know better. This is not the first summer the deer have enjoyed my container gardening efforts in what I thought was my “safety zone.” But gardeners are ever optimistic, and I am no exception. Fortunately, this year I also decided to use hanging baskets for a few plants. So far, the deer have decided it is not worth it to climb onto the porch (three steps), climb up on my wicker chairs and stretch to reach those choice morsels hanging over the porch railing. Continue reading Planting mix for containers (Google Alert / The Union)

Bottle gardening: experiment with Green Ambrosia (Y.PATEL / Willem)

Some weeks ago I received a fertilizer from India, sent by Mr. Yogesh. I promised him to set up some experiments with his “Green Ambrosia“.

Here are the first pictures of the experiment set-up :

Different bottle sizes

Starting the experiment with 3 different bottle sizes. Each bottle cut in 2 parts : 1/3 bottom (serving as a water reservoir), 2/3 top inverted in the bottom part. I leave the lid (stop) on the bottle and make two small openings in the lower part of the come (bottleneck), just above the lid through which water from the bottom tank can be absorbed. (Click on the photo to enlarge it).

3 different bottles with Brussels sprouts

The bottle is filled with a potting mix and a seedling of Brussels sprouts (a cabbage variety) is planted in it.

I am carrying out the experiment with 4 bottles of each size (12 bottles in total) and split up in 2 series :

(1) One series is kept as control (without any special treatment, just leaving the plants growing in the bottles)

(2) One series is treated with the fertilizer Green Ambrosia.

I will publish a report on this after ending the experiment.

Vegetables in containers (Bestgardening)

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Vegetables in containers

Remark : This is a part of the text on “Small Scale Vegetables”.

Pots of vegetables can be outstanding decorative elements and they make vegetables possible where there is no soil, such as on a balcony or in a paved courtyard. You can even grow your veges at home and then take them, container and all, to the beach to enjoy fresh lettuce or spicy chilli peppers.
Continue reading Vegetables in containers (Bestgardening)

Starting Peppers on your window sill (50connect)

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Starting Peppers

Starting pepper seeds is easy! Even in a small flat you can still grow them on your window sill.

Soil Preparation
Peppers require a warm spot for the best results, preferably with a well drained, rich soil. During the winter, dig up your plot thoroughly (being careful not to bring clay or granite to the surface) and incorporate a good compost into your soil. Shortly before planting add a good source of fertilizer to the plot. If you lack ground space, you can easily grow excellent peppers in 2 gallon sized pots or grow bags, but remember to water them regularly. In addition, regular feeding with a good fertilizer will be necessary.
Continue reading Starting Peppers on your window sill (50connect)

Strawberries in containers and grow bags (RHS)

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Royal Horticultural Society

The Garden
January 2001

Pot the red

A handful of strawberry plants can yield a bumper crop of fruit. Jim Arbury recommends a variety of suitable containers

Jim Arbury is Superintendent of the Fruit Department at RHS Garden Wisley

Sweet and versatile, strawberries are the essence of a British summer and delicious when eaten freshly picked. Strawberry plants will yield good crops of fruit when grown in small spaces including a wide range of containers, and growbag cultivation is particularly economical and productive. The small, short-lived perennial plants are suitable for autumn or spring planting, and a little extra time spent now in caring for your autumn-planted runners and finding the right location to grow a container of cold-stored strawberry plants will help to improve your chances of a bumper summer harvest. Continue reading Strawberries in containers and grow bags (RHS)

Growing chilli peppers in containers and gardens (selfsufficientish)

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Chili Peppers – Capsicum by the Chili Monster part 1

The chili plant originated in Latin America, where it was cultivated from its wild form by South American Indians. Christopher Columbus is regarded as the first European to sample the fruit, and indeed coined the term pepper. With the Spanish firmly in control of the Mexican economy, the chili was introduced initially to the Philipines and then to China and other parts of Asia. (It should be noted that some believe that it was the Portuguese that introduced the chili to Goa where it became a constituent of curry). Although grown as an annual outside of its native South America, the chili is in fact a perennial shrub that can tolerate temperatures ranging from 7 to 29 degrees centrigrade, annual rainfalls between 0.3 and 4.6 m and soil pH 4.3 to 8.7. From the container-suited Dwarf Apache and Thai Sun varieties through to the large but very mild Anaheim, from the pungent (hot) Mexican Tepin to the ornamental Purple Prince, there’s a chili pepper cultivate suited to every gardener. Continue reading Growing chilli peppers in containers and gardens (selfsufficientish)