Garden Mulch Makes the Simplest Composting Toilet of All


Image credit: Sami Grover

From peeing in public to plush and fragrant composting toilets, there was a time when I was writing an awful lot about pee and poop. It's been a while since I visited this important topic, but as I was going through my morning routine today, I thought I should share my ingenious design for a composting toilet with the world.

Garden mulch. Urine Contains Valuable Nutrients
Whether we are talking about gardening with urine or large-scale urine separation for fertilizer, we've already covered many ways to utilize our bodily wastes in the fight against peak fertilizer.

Urine as Fertilizer Requires Processing
But, generally speaking, these systems involve either a major infrastructural investment, or they involve some kind of processing at home—whether it is a humanure toilet, peeing on the compost heap, or at least diluting your pee before using it as a direct fertilizer. Using urine directly on your plants can be too strong, and unless it binds with some form of carbon the nutrients are not readily available to plants and can easily be washed away.

The Easy Way to Use Urine in the Garden
But, like many gardeners I already have a perfect source of carbon spread right around my plants—mulch. So while I still pee in my compost heap from time to time (stop me if this is TMI), I have also taken to peeing any and everywhere where we have a carbon-based mulch applied around plants. The idea is that, over time, the mulch will break down anyway, but with added nutrients from human urine it will not just provide organic matter to the soil, but a dose of valuable nutrients with no need for turning the compost heap or spreading out the end result. (Remember that not all mulches are created equal—the New York Times ran an illuminating piece on the environmental impact of cypress mulch some time back.)

Just one more trick in the lazivore gardener's tool box. Does anyone else pee on their mulch?

More on Urine as a Fertilizer
Is Peak Fertilizer Nearer Than We Think?
Liquid Gold: Gardening with Urine
Large-Scale Urine Separation for Fertilizer

Tags: Agriculture | Composting | Composting Toilets | Permaculture | United States