Did You Know? Free Fertilizer

Today’s post may seem a bit obscene to some people but I think it’s a great way to use a waste product and it’s free fertilizer. This free fertilizer is urine. Yep, good ole pee. (I’m glad my 6 year old son doesn’t read these posts or he’d be repeating that incessantly for the next week) Urine is composed primarily of water with the second component being urea. Urea is one of the main ingredients of fertilizers and provides the plant with nitrogen that is needed for foliar growth. With that being said, why not use what God has provided us already?

Let me throw out a few disclaimers here:

  1. Don’t use your urine if you are suffering from any illness. The last thing you want is for your soil and plants to be exposed to pathogens.
  2. Don’t use your urine as fertilizer on plants that you’ll be eating the greens from. Skip the lettuce, cabbage, spinach, etc. and instead focus on veggies like tomatoes and peppers.
  3. If you are growing your veggies in containers, dilute the urine before watering your plants. I can tell you from personal experience that you can quickly burn the roots of your plants if you don’t.



free fertilizer
If your pepper plants look like this, consider giving them some free fertilizer

Speaking of burning your plants, it seems that men’s urine is much more potent than females. If your plants are in the ground and being watered on a regular basis, you shouldn’t need to dilute it first. If you live in an area with little precipitation, consider diluting it as the urine will act like a regular fertilizer and the salts can build up quickly in the soil. Also, don’t “fertilize” your plants every day; fertilize a couple of times and observe them for a few days. The urea is quickly absorbed by the plants and you should see results within a few days. If your plants still haven’t greened up after 3 days or so, give them another shot of fertilizer (pun intended) and wait for results.

I can’t think of a better way to get your son to help you in the garden. What boy doesn’t like to do his business outside? I know that mine does. An added benefit of using urine as free fertilizer is that it can help deter deer…for a while anyway. So, have you used free fertilizer in your garden? What kind of results have you had? Leave me a comment below or e-mail me your results. If you enjoy being part of the Mid-Atlantic Gardening community, join our e-mail list (upper right hand corner of this page), become a fan on Facebook and follow me at Twitter. Happy gardening!

Friday Free For All: Free Gardening Resources

free gardening resourcesI love free stuff and I’m sure that you do too. Today’s post is going to be dedicated to free gardening resources so that you can reference them when you have gardening questions or are looking for gardening ideas.

Virginia Cooperative Extension 2012 Pest Management Guide – this is a fabulous resource for treating all types of problems in the garden or around your home. I can’t recommend this enough.

Essence of Permaculture – this is an introduction to Permaculture and is available as a free e-book. This same website offers some other freebies as well.

Abundaculture – this is a Christian-based perspective on prepping and homesteading. It covers all facets of homesteading and has been used to help missionaries across the world.

Gardening Journal – while this is labeled as a 2012 journal, I see nothing that limits it to 2012. If you’re a planner like me, you’ll love this. And it’s based on organic principles.

Gardening Without Irrigation – written by Steve Solomon, the same gentleman that gives us the Soil Health Library. Check out this link further to find other free e-books.

The Hive and the Honeybee – this is an online collection of old beekeeping books. They currently have 48 books available. What a great resource!

Free Books on Agriculture – from Appropedia, this site has many free downloads about sustainable agriculture. I’ll be downloading quite a few items from this site!

Vegetable Garden Planner – from Mother Earth News, this veggie garden planner has all sorts of bells and whistles. It’s only free for 30 days so choose your timing carefully.

Plant Hardiness Zones – looking for your zone? Plug in your zip code and see what zone you live in. You can also click on your state to see how your state fares with winter temperatures.

24 Ways to Kill a Tree – for those tree lovers out there, consider printing a color version of this flyer and putting it on your office door or on the outside wall of your cubicle. We did that at my work and we’ve probably educated more people by doing this than any other method.

OK, so that should keep you busy until lunch today…what will you read after lunch and this weekend? 🙂 Do you have any other free gardening resources that you would like to share with other Mid-Atlantic Gardening readers? If so, leave a comment below or e-mail me. If you enjoy being part of the Mid-Atlantic Gardening community, join our e-mail list (upper right hand corner of this page), become a fan on Facebook and follow me at Twitter. Happy gardening!





Friday Free For All: Free Gardening Books

free gardening booksIn today’s post, we are going to look at a couple of awesome online resources for free gardening books. As the copyright for books expires, several websites take the time to scan the books into the public domain. Many of these books are quite old; some are several hundred years old and others are more recent. And it’s not just free gardening books. You can find entire volumes of works by authors like Martin Luther and William Shakespeare. There are literally thousands of books available at the click of a mouse. Two fantastic resources are:

Project Gutenberg – here you can find titles such as:

  1. Organic Gardener’s Composting by Steve Solomon
  2. Making a Rock Garden by H.S. Adams
  3. Wildflowers Worth Knowing by Neltje Blanchan
  4. Gardening Indoors and Under Glass by F.F. Rockwell
  5. Botanical Magazine, Volume 3 by William Curtis
  6. Wood and Garden by Gertrude Jekyll


The other resource, Soil and Health Library, is dedicated more to sustainable agriculture and holistic health. Some of the books available here include:

  1. Soil Fertility and Animal Health by William Albrecht
  2. Biodynamics Journal
  3. The Natural Way of Farming: The Theory and Practice of Green Philosophy by M. Fukuoka
  4. The Organic Front by J. Rodale
  5. Grass Tetany by Andre Voisin
  6. Sustainable Soil Management: Soil System Guide by Preston Sullivan


It is so exciting to me that all of this knowledge is just waiting at our fingertips. I love the internet and all of the information that it has to offer but there is something special about books that were written before synthetic fertilizers and harmful chemicals were introduced to the world. Many of these authors worked the land when soil was the most important element of gardening. I hope that we can glean some of their wisdom and realize that humanity existed for thousands of years without the addition of Miracle-Gro and Roundup.

So, what will you download first? For me, I downloaded Soil Fertility and Animal Health. I’ve started reading it but keep getting pulled away by life’s demands. Let me know what free gardening book you’ll start with. Leave me a comment below or e-mail me. If you enjoy being part of the Mid-Atlantic Gardening community, join our e-mail list (upper right hand corner of this page), become a fan on Facebook and follow me at Twitter. Have a wonderful and blessed Easter weekend! Happy gardening!


Did You Know? Free Mulch


In today’s post, I thought we would take a look at sources of free mulch. I hope to be able to offer you some ideas for sources that perhaps you haven’t thought of. Whether it’s wood chips, leaves, straw or other materials, any of it will help to control weeds, improve soil fertility, regulate soil temperature and conserve moisture. Let’s get started!


Free mulchToday, I received an e-mail from Alltreeexperts.com in Atlanta, Georgia regarding free mulch. They offer free mulch to folks in the Atlanta area even if they aren’t removing a tree from their yard. If you are close to the route they are on, they will drop the mulch at no cost. This benefits the homeowner if they don’t want the mulch, the company since they don’t have to dispose of it and the person receiving the chips. It’s a win-win-win! Have you contacted any of the tree services in your area to see if they’ll drop off chips for you? I’m certain that more than a few tree contractors would be delighted to drop a dump truck’s worth for you at no cost. One word of caution: be certain that the wood that was chipped wasn’t walnut. While most of the allelopathic toxin is in the roots, it’s also in the branches of the walnut.

Another possible source is your municipal landfill. Often times, they have areas where citizens are allowed to dump brush and debris. This plant debris is then ground up and most localities will give it away for free…some make you load it yourself and others will even load it for you. With Hurricane Irene that swept up the Eastern Seaboard last September, many localities are overrun with mulch. Contact your local county or city and see if there is free mulch for the taking.


free mulchEvery year, millions of leaves fall from the trees that we work so hard to cultivate. And every year, gardeners rake up all of this free mulch and send it to the landfill. AHHHHHH! What are we thinking? Instead of sending this future black gold to the landfill, we should be coveting this free source of mulch. If it’s in your own garden and you insist on a tidy landscape, run the lawnmower over the leaves, chop them up, and then use it around your plants. Or compost it. If you are unfortunate and don’t have large volumes of leaves to contend with, go around your neighborhood in the fall and ask for bagged leaves. The leaves are in nice little neat trashbags that you can store until you need them. No more going to Home Depot for bagged compost or mulch…you’ll have your own.


free mulchStraw is probably best used in your vegetable garden instead of around your landscape plants. It tends to blow away and scatter in heavy winds, but your veggies will be none the wiser. If you are fortunate to live in a rural area, or at least close to one, contact farmers. They often have spoiled straw available that you can purchase for little or nothing. If you’ve never broken open a bale of straw, you may be surprised at the volume of straw that is in that compact little rectangle. If you can get your hands on a round bale of straw, you’ve hit the motherlode! Just make sure it’s straw and not hay. Hay contains the seeds of the plants that were harvested and you don’t want to seed your garden with that! Remember the point is to keep the weeds out.


free mulchIf you really want to make sure that the weeds are kept at bay in your garden, consider putting down cardboard first and then mulching over top. Sources of cardboard are everywhere…instead of recycling all of the cardboard that enters your house, save it for the garden. Go to your local grocery store and ask for the boxes that the produce and other items come in. Go to your local appliance store and see if you can have the refrigerator boxes…those boxes can cover a lot of ground in the garden.

I’d really like to compile a list of free mulch sources…can the Mid-Atlantic Gardening readers help me out with this? What a great resource that would be for other gardeners. If you know of a free source, leave me a comment below or e-mail me at stacey@midatlanticgardening.com. Happy gardening!

March 19, 2012Permalink 2 Comments

Reader Question: Free Plant Catalogs


A reader sent me a question wondering if I had a list of free plant catalogs that I could pass along. It just so happens that I do so that is what we’ll talk about today. Just click on the link and you too can have a mailbox full of free plant information in a couple of weeks! You may think that it’s awfully early to be thinking of starting seeds but in 6 to 8 weeks in Zone 7, it will be time to start tomatoes and peppers! Yeah!


I will be updating this list as I think of other resources. If you know a free catalog that I missed, please leave a comment in the comment section below or e-mail me at stacey@midatlanticgardening.com. Happy planning!

December 8, 2011Permalink 3 Comments