Fertilize with Urine
Since founding the Institute, we have heard countless stories from people using urine on home gardens, often with spectacular results. Though they may not realize it, they are continuing an ancient practice, as there is a long history of recycling of human urine as fertilizer, particularly in Asia.
In recent years, home urine reuse has taken new relevance as a way to promote water quality. In order to protect lakes and rivers from nutrient pollution, the Swedish government has begun encouraging people to use urine in their home gardens instead of flushing it into sewers and septic systems.
The World Health Organization distributes a 42-page document containing guidelines for the safe use of urine as fertilizer. When urine is collected and used within a single household, the only recommended precaution is to wait for one month after fertilizing before harvesting any crops that are to be eaten raw. Storage of urine for one to six months is recommended for sanitizing urine that comes from multiple residences and will be used on commercial farms. Regulations on the reuse of urine vary by location, so be aware that permitting authorities in your area may not yet recognize it as a beneficial and legal practice.
Another source of guidance for those who wish to use urine in their home gardens is Carol Steinfeld’s book, Liquid Gold, the Lore and Logic of Using Urine to Grow Plants. Not only is it a how-to manual, but it also gives an illustrated history of various uses of urine.