The Fall Garden & Using Urine

Do you know what happens when you plant cow peas on the edge of a pumpkin patch? An impenetrable mess.
bean patch1I had harvested peas from this corner several times early on, but then the pumpkin vines just swamped the whole area. The stink bugs and leaf-footed bugs had a population explosion from the vast amounts of food and ruined many of the beans. Then a month or so ago the incessant rain stopped. The drier conditions were less hospitable for the bugs and better for the plants, but the rampant growth made picking difficult. I left this corner of beans mostly to the birds. Then I realized the beans and pumpkin vines were dying back so I decided to clean it out. Little did I expect…
beans iiThere were so many beautiful beans! Cow peas love neglect once they’re established. The drier conditions meant that the beans dried beautifully in the pods instead of molding. The spotty ones? Punctured by bugs. No spots? No bugs. I harvested the pumpkins, cut back the pumpkin vines with no more fruit on them, and pulled out all of the pea vines and weeds.
bean patch11Then came the soil amendments. Yes, that’s urine. I’ve been using dilute urine as a nitrogen source for almost a year now and all of the plants love it. 1/2 gallon of urine, a handful of bone meal, and a few ounces of fish emulsion in a five gallon bucket of water makes an excellent soil drench. The urine/bone meal/fish emulsion “tea” is kind of smelly, but it dissipates quickly.
bean patchiiiUsing urine in the garden is a permaculture system I am proud of. We use plastic milk jugs to collect the urine and store it if necessary. If you rinse the jugs well you can reuse them several times. Urine is nearly sterile when it leaves the body. Collecting urine saves water use in the house because we have to flush fewer times. I don’t have to purchase or transport nitrogen from outside. We are using our own nitrogen to grow food, and then recycling that nitrogen back into the garden to grow more food. It’s a beautiful closed system.

You can also use urine “straight” if there’s enough carbon to “soak up” the nitrogen. I laid down an inch of shredded hardwood mixed with aged horse manure and dumped a gallon of urine on top with a handful each of bone meal and greensand.
bean patch ivI drenched the cardboard well, covered it in 6″ of hay, and then watered it again. Depending on how much rain we get this winter, I may leave this bed until the spring. Basically once the cardboard mostly disappears, the bed is ready to plant in. More rain= faster composting. This bed will also get periodic urine/bone meal/fish emulsion drenches to keep the soil activity high.
bean patchv
All neat and tidy with only the duranta bush left. In the spring this bed will be planted with dang shen/codonopsis. One forest garden bed reclaimed, seven more to go!

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