Fresh food, access to fresh food and food security is one of my pet ‘soap boxes’. Most of the fresh food that we buy in supermarkets are days if not weeks from when it was picked and by the time it gets eaten, is pretty much just water and calories. Nutritionally speaking a mere ghost of what it should be.

The secret to a successful veggie garden

There is no ‘secret’ to growing your own fresh herbs and vegetables. It is plain and simple hard work (with a dash of ‘act of faith’). You are at the mercy of the weather (rain, wind, heat), bugs, birds and time. Where I live we experience a very strong south-easterly wind in summer. For the past two years (2016/2017), the wind seems to have become stronger and to be blowing for longer periods. It is now the end of winter and the southeaster has already started. This bodes ill for the short term rainfall expectations - given that we have one more month of expected winter rain.

It is frustrating and costly to try and grow plants that are not suited to your microclimate. Keep a gardening diary and identify which plants grow well in your space. For example, I can’t grow brassicas (cabbage, broccoli etc) in my garden. The last two times I tried, they were attacked by grey aphids and mildew.Yes, I have the option to throw chemicals at the problem, but I choose not to. My soil is a lot healthier this year and I hope that this will translate in more resilient plants. Perhaps I will try brassicas again next year.

Urine as a fertiliser

Since June 2017 I have been harvesting my urine and using it as a liquid fertiliser on my vegetable garden. The ‘penny dropped’ after getting irritated with the smell of mellowing yellow in the toilet and deciding that there has to be better way of dealing with it. Hello Mr Google! There is a surprising amount of information on the internet on using not only urine, but also humanure in small scale agriculture. In some countries this is a fairly thriving means of income: households and villages sell their urine to farmers, who in turn, mature the liquid and use it as a liquid fertiliser. One person produces in one year, the equivalent of 50kg of ‘3-in-1’ fertiliser. But don’t take my word for it! Go do your research!

Start with the 2006 the World Health Organisation guideline for the safe use of greywater and excreta in agriculture. This document is aligned with the following Millennium Development Goals:
    1:    Eliminate extreme poverty and hunger
    2:    Ensure environmental sustainability.

That’s good enough for me!

Urine harvest

Small farmers who buy in urine from various sources, allow the urine to mature for a month or two before use. This is a measure to ensure that pathogens aren’t transferred. The smaller your source, the lower the risk. In a single household, using the urine for own use, there is very little risk of disease transfer. Obviously if someone in the home is ill or on chronic medication, you may want to consider not including their urine.

Harvest vs Mellow

Interestingly enough, and this came as a surprise, harvested urine does not smell. It is only when it comes into contact with water and air that the characteristic ‘urinal pong’ raises its flag. It is less offensive to your nose and your sense of aesthetic to harvest your urine than it is to let it mellow.


I work full time and I don’t have a lot of time to spend in the garden. In winter, I can get away with only watering once a week, but once the summer heat kicks in, I’m going to have to do this more often. We are under sever water restrictions, so no irrigation is allowed using potable water. Although I have a dedicated rainwater tank for the vegetable garden, and I can use my irrigation system, I am choosing to use the watering can.

For the moment I am fertilising once a week. You can fertilise up to twice a week. It is not necessary nor recommended that you fertilise more often than that.

Dilution ratio

Information varies, but the overall consensus is that a 1:8 (one part urine to 8 parts water) is most suited to home use. You can even use this in your potplants, but be careful not to overfeed as there can be a salt built up in the pots. If you are selling your vegetables commercially, you are recommended to stop fertilising four weeks before harvest.

BE RESPONSIBLE: Do not contaminate your water sources with any fertiliser, whether chemical or natural.

Vegetable Garden

Not quite the size of a door!

Spinach. Having survived the drought and The Caterpillar, this spinach is great! However, it is refusing to go to seed and I suspect the seed is GM.

A little companion planting of spring onions, leeks and carrots. I emptied the leftover seeds of a very old packet of carrot seed.  I was definitely not expecting this much of a response as last year none of the seed germinated! Onions and carrots are good companions. That could be the reason for the good response. Or maybe carrots like pee!

I was a little late with my broad beans this year. You can see the soil conditioner in which the bean is growing? This is what the composted contents of a composting toilet will look like after a year in the compost pile.