There have been plenty of folks snickering about this front-page story from The Chapel Hill News:
"CARRBORO - Roy Mars was peeing in his compost last weekend - it adds nitrogen - when he looked up and saw something streak across the sky."
The story written by Mark Schultz was about a UFO sighting in North Carolina. But the buzz about the article wasn't because of a spaceship; it was the peeing in the compost part that gave readers a good laugh.
Really? Anyone who has been gardening for a while knows that peeing in the compost is the thing to do.
Uric acid speeds up the compost process and gets you to the end product faster. Even the National Trust in England provides "pee bales" in strategic places in public gardens and parks that the male horticulture staff can use.
While it is a great compost activator, peeing in the actual garden is still being explored - at least by my son, who fried a few boxwoods with his continual visits a few years back. It's the repeat visits, I believe, that did them in, as my calls to move down the hedgerow went unheeded.
PopScience says urine is a high-quality plant food rich with nitrogen, potassium and phosphate, much like any all-around organic fertilizer. And it's free.
Scientists in Finland reported a fourfold increase in tomato crops fed with urine and wood ash.
Anecdotal reports in the rose-growing community say urine does wonders for these beauties. And the Washington Post reported the fantastic results urine had on cabbage crops.
The National Geographic says, "Researchers estimate a single person could supply enough urine to fertilize roughly 6,300 tomato plants a year - yielding some 2.4 tons of tomatoes."
Chris Roy from Orange County Farm Supply in Orange, Calif., said he has heard that peeing on the plumerias leads to fantastic plants. "I would aim for the root zone," Roy said. "Urea can burn plant tissues."
Like anything in the fertilizer aisle, the key is not using too much.
"You're going to get a lot of green growth," Roy said. "Urea is mostly nitrogen."
As far as compost goes, urine serves as the green component in the green-to-brown ratio. The ideal mix for fast compost is 50 percent brown to 50 percent green. You have to watch the pile. If you've got too much nitrogen, you'll know because it will smell.
Peeing directly in the garden is different. Goveganic.net says once or twice a month per plant is plenty. And keep moving - not into the front yard though, or you can wind up in the slammer on indecency charges.
The back is all yours.