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Liquid Gold: The Lore and Logic of Using Urine to Grow Plants - Carol Steinfeld

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Genre: House / Garden / Author: Carol Steinfeld / Paperback / Publication Date: 2004 / Publisher: Green Books

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      16.07.2012 11:36
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      Useful book about using urine as a free fertiliser

      Introduction
       
      Part out of curiosity, part out of devilment to wind my children up, I bought the book "Liquid Gold" by Carol Steinfeld.  The main concept of the book is how to use urine as a fertiliser, and as I'm always looking to save a few quid on compost I thought that the £4.95 rrp was worth a punt.  If the book proved to be full of p!ss and nonsense and not much use, then at least I would have something to leave on the coffee table with which to freak my mother in law out on her (all too often) visits!
       
      I'd long known that a little splash of wee was very useful for a compost heap, but other than sprinkling the odd nettle patch or thistle behind a tree when out walking I've never used it to feed plants.  So, crossing your legs in urination expectation, please find my review of the contents and opinions below!
       
      Content / Opinion
       
      The book starts with the startling fact that 18 million gallons of urine are excreted every day in Britain.  The author stresses this very sincerely, it's good to see she's not taking the p!ss.  It is explained how urine can be a pollutant when in the wrong place, like rivers or lakes.  What the author proposes is to divert more urine away from water treatment plants where the high nitrogen content of it isn't really depleted after treatment and subsequent discharge and instead use it as a resource fro growing plants and crops.  The high nitrogen content of discharges from water treatment works is responsible for algae growth in our rivers and lakes, which blocks the light and isn't good for fish.  So far, I'm under the impression that this is a serious book and not the light hearted coffee table book I was expecting.
       
      The urine lore chapter gives lots of examples of all the different uses of wee throughout the ages - if you're feeling fragile then it's probably best to skip through that section as it's rather disgusting!  Without giving too much away or spoiling too many appetites, uses include the Pennsylvanian Dutch washing the faces of their children it to make them beautiful, Inuits creating steam baths by weeing onto hot stones and Olde English taverns adding wee to their ale to increase the supply - some might say this still goes on today!
       
      The book moves onto to using urine as a fertiliser with some quite in depth scientific data.  If you still needed convincing about the benefits of using wee to feed your garden, there are some pretty convincing arguments put forward here - see the table which displays the composition of daily urine normally produced by an adult - all those minerals just getting flushed away when they could be feeding tomato plants!
       
      Also, the pictures of various vegetables planted at the same time but with some fed on urine and some not are enough to make me reach for the bedpan - if the pictures are genuine.
       
      If the thought of adding diluted wee to the soil around your back garden veg plot turns your stomach too much, the book also explains the science behind the benefits of weeing into your compost bin instead, a slightly less revolting (to some) use of urine.  It's an old gardener's piece of wisdom to pee onto the heap from time to time - the high nitrogen content helps to break down carbon rich materials like twigs and bark.  
       
      Some will find this book disgustingly absurd, others a revelation.  I was surprised by the seriousness of the content - I thought it would be a light-hearted parody but it's actually quite informative and useful.  Also, the book is good value at less than £5.
       
      I'd recommend it if you are a keen gardener that wants to improve your soil content for free, or if you are looking at making your home more environmentally friendly. Five stars, thanks for reading.

      ISBN: 9781903998489 (paperback)
      RRP: £4.95

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