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Green Acre #467: Urine to Gardening?


By Stephanie Cavanaugh

THIS WEEK, I set out to wax ecstatic over spring. To rave about the cherry blossoms and tulips that have burst so early in Washington DC’s summerish warmth—and with the sudden dip in temperature promise to hold on for weeks. Like putting the city in a florist’s fridge. 

But then I grew distracted by a question:

Why do people fall into toilet bowls? 

Then answered it myself:

Because they expect the seat to be down. 

This is probably mostly a woman problem. I need to do a survey. But men tend to thoughtlessly leave the seat up, preparatory for their next event. 

Women, and I include myself in this, being female, pronoun me or she, expect things to be put and left in logical spots. 

Take for instance eyeglasses. Specifically, for example, The Prince’s, which can be found in many interesting places, none of which is logical. The sofa, for instance, on the cushion I tend to sit on to watch the news and whatnot every night. Why put your glasses on the sofa? I’ll ask. Why don’t you look before sitting, he’ll respond. Snippily, I might add. 

No, I don’t look, because who puts their glasses (very expensive, he reminds me) on the sofa where they blend into the pattern (monkeys climbing palm trees) and disappear, more or less. We have a coffee table, which is in front of his chair, so why the sofa? 

The eyeglasses can also be found on the bathroom floor, in front of the aforementioned toilet (though he has been trained to lower the seat. Good boy!). But instead of placing them in a logical place, i.e. hanging off the magazine rack or on top of the radiator (which is cunningly disguised with a box-like cap topped with a lacy schmata to resemble a dressing table) where they can easily be reached, there they lie, on the floor.

He is also prone to misplacing his keys, wallet, and phone (a flip phone, by the way. Geezer!). Which can variously be found in the washing machine (no big deal for keys, messy for the wallet, disastrous for the phone), in the car, on the dining table, in the kitchen, in the bathroom (again), and—in the case of the keys—in the front door, the back door, or the garden gate. Sometimes the car ignition* or the trunk. Or his truck’s ignition or door lock. 

But we are not here to discuss Princely habits. Let us tie these two themes together and discuss urine and the garden. 

I offer this story. 

Franklin might have been a friend: He’s a writer and photographer, interested in old houses, like me. But he announced at a dinner party where we’d just met that he only pees outdoors, and I said to myself, Not in my garden you don’t, and immediately crossed him off the dinner guest list, which means off the friend list as well. 

Urine is said to be good for plants (they’ve got some program in Paris, also in Vermont and West Africa), but not undiluted. See, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, happen to be key components in the finest fertilizers and key components in human urine. I have written about this before: fascinating stuff.

The solution, as I see it, to the toilet-falling-into is to train boys to pee sitting down, a road Baby is not taking with her 4-year-old. Good! Good! she coos as he streams into the toilet. He usually gets a prize for this. Pah

Train him to sit, like civilized people, i.e. those with the she/her/me pronouns. 

Men, I say: Either sit down or go in a bucket. All you need to create a fabulous fertilizer is to dilute it. The ideal mix is said to be about one part urine to eight parts water. Then pour it on the peonies and leave the toilet seat alone.

There’s a win-win solution for you. Enjoy the cherry blossoms. 


*We don’t lock the 1989 Mustang; we live in hope that it will be stolen. 


4 thoughts on “Green Acre #467: Urine to Gardening?

  1. Safecastle says:

    Reusing waste is a great idea, and urine can be a valuable source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for plants. It’s important to dilute it with water before using it on plants, as undiluted urine can burn them.

  2. Maggie Hall says:

    Total hoot! Like everyone laughed through out. But it also revived memories of: hearing as a child, from my Scottish grandmother how sore or chilblained winter hands got relieve by washing in urine (your own!); and as a young reporter in Fleet Street, in the early ’60s, I had a “massive scoop” by writing a story about how a posh Chelsea house had, on its doorstep, an old lavatory overflowing with plants. As for The Prince and his specs being everywhere but on his person: how about a vintage lavatory chain to sling round his neck….

  3. stephanie cavanaugh says:

    Thank you for laughing

  4. Barbara Kreger says:

    Thank you for giving me a good morning laugh.

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