Waste Not

attempting to waste less and live more deliberately

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The Same From Near As From Far

Because we could all use some wonder on the weekends!

“beautiful, damn hard, increasingly useful. That’s fractals.” — Mandelbrotmandelbrot (1)





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a VERY diy plant fertilizer

While tending the teeny tiny porch farm, we have found the plants are growing, but not thriving. They are provided with water, sunlight, fresh air, and love, but they still don’t seem happy.

I know what they need, but I’m not ready to face it…

IMG_0311However, the sad state of our limp parsley has finally pushed me to explore the realm of plant care that I had always avoided, fertilizer.

The idea of fertilizer draws up memories of miracle grow and other bottles of synthetic chemical nutrients. For our plants, I am not looking for a man-made miracle; I just want happy, healthy plants, naturally.

So here goes, time to learn.

What is fertilizer? Is it the same as plant food?

The terms “plant food” and “fertilizer” are often used interchangeably. Indeed, it’s true that home gardeners use fertilizer to help their plants get the essential nutrients they need to grow and bloom properly. Scientifically speaking, however, fertilizer is not the same thing as plant food. Most plants get hydrogen, oxygen and carbon from water and from the air, but plants also need other nutrients that they usually get from the soil. The most important of these are nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. These are called macronutrients. Fertilizer contains these and other nutrients for plants, as well as fillers. Plants use these nutrients in fertilizers (and in the environment) to produce their own food. – April Sanders

(Love the bit about “but plants need other nutrients that they usually get from the soil”. While we are currently growing in containers, this is a good reminder that healthy soil is of vital importance! We will explore healthy soil another day.)


Just as we require a balanced diet, it is equally important to feed your plants a balanced diet.  Do you recognize the numbers below?

20-20-20, 20-5-5, etc.

If you are like me, the moment you see a sequence of numbers it’s all over, pass.

Turns out, it’s not all that complicated.

The first number represents nitrogen (N), the second number represents phosphorus (P), and the third number represents potassium (K). These are the important macronutrients mentioned above.

N – Nitrogen helps plant foliage to grow strong.
P– Phosphorus helps roots and flowers grow and develop.
K– Potassium is important for overall plant health.

Upon reading our seed packets, I find both the parsley and chard need high nitrogen fertilizing once a week. Perhaps this explains why both the parsley and chard have been lagging, sigh.


A quick “diy natural plant fertilizer” google search results in a number of options; compost tea, fish emulsion, seaweed, and so on. We opt for the cheapest, lowest waste option; however, you may find it a wee bit disgusting. I urge you to keep an open mind.

Pee-Cycling with DIY Human Urine Fertilizer

Urine has been used as a valuable plant food for centuries in many parts of the world, particularly in the Far East. It is surprising therefore that nearly all the urine produced in the West and in Africa goes to waste and is lost to agriculture. Each of us passes about 1.5 litres of urine every day – and almost to the last drop, it is either flushed down a toilet or enters a deep pit latrine. The fact is that urine is a very valuable product – in several ways. It contains a lot of nitrogen and also phosphorus and potassium in smaller quantities, nutrients which are very valuable to plant growth. Simply put, urine is too valuable to waste – ANALYSIS OF NPK IN HUMAN MALE AND FEMALE URINE, Morgan, 2004

 Why Choose Pee 

In addition to being free and low waste, urine has an incredible composition that rivals blood meal as a fertilizer. Human Urine NPK average 11-2-1, Blood meal NPK average 12-2-1. Pretty impressive! Even cooler, the NPK changes depending on our diet! The more protein you consume, the higher the nitrogen.

It also should be noted that taking advantage of homemade urine fertilizer will save some toilet flushes, thus saving clean water!


You will need a jar, tap water, and a full bladder!


Urine is high in both nitrogen and salt, for this reason it is important to dilute the urine before use on plants. If you have a dog, you are aware that direct urine causes patches of dead grass all over your backyard; let’s not do this to our plants.

Step 1: Pee into a jar.

Step 2: Dilute urine with water; 10 parts water, 1 part urine.

Step 3: Use your “liquid gold” to fertilize plants as you would with any liquid fertilizer.


Use only fresh urine (within 24 hours).

Don’t over fertilize plants; be sure to read your seed packets.

Don’t use urine as fertilizer if you are on medication, have a UTI, or are sick.

Made by a healthy person, urine is sterile and should stay that way as it leaves the body. If you are having fecal cross contamination issues, don’t use the urine on your plants and perhaps work on your bathroom skills a bit.


While it may take some serious deprogramming to stop being so disgusted by our bodies natural functions, I encourage you to look at this in a positive light. How amazing that our body can produce such a healthy fertilizer. It seems we are all connected in this harmonious cycle.

Not ready to use urine as a fertilizer? Try pouring urine on your compost pile as a compost accelerator; men, knock yourself out and deposit directly!


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Apartment Gardening: First Harvest

If you have ever worried your space was too small to grow food, think again!  Our first harvest/thinning produced some wonderful dishes!  If you would like to see where we started just a few weeks ago, check this out: Starting Small, Apartment Gardening.


Green onions made for a tasty miso soup!




 Herbs from the store are so expensive; growing them is an easy way to save money! Rosemary roasted potatoes, yum!


The thinned seedlings of our Bok Choy, Broccoli, and Butterhead lettuce made a wonderful micro-greens side salad!




In addition to tasting great, growing even a small amount of your own food can help save money and fuel!

Do you small space garden? What are you growing?