Does Peeing On Your Plants Actually Help Them?
A Linden Hills gardening enthusiast and her co-author set out to empirically investigate some of the most popular gardening tips—and myths.
Science is a wonderful adjunct to gardening, offering effective, well-informed techniques to boost the health and productivity of your plants.
Like peeing on them.
That’s what Linden Hills resident and long-time gardener Meleah Maynard discovered—along with a whole host of other tips—when she and co-author Jeff Gillman set out to rewrite the book, as it were, on gardening tips, sorting the old wives’ tales from the reputable bits of advice. Their book just hit the shelves last month.
“It sprang from our frustration with gardeners coming to us with questions where we wanted to ask ‘Who told you that!?’” Maynard said. “On top of that (misinformation), there are so many rules out there that can make gardening seem daunting.”
Trying to clear the air, Maynard and Gillman, a University of Minnesota researcher, took a laundry list of purported gardening tips and tricks, and went back to the scientific literature to see if they could back those up. When they couldn’t find enough experimental evidence, they turned to other gardeners’ experience to see if tips worked out in practice.
For each tip or piece of folklore, Maynard and Gillman rated how “true” it was. They even investigated claims that timing your planting and harvesting by the phases of the moon helped.
“It sounds kind of kooky, I know. That’s the farthest we go from science,” Maynard said, laughing. “But there’s actually a lot of anecdotal evidence. Researching that was fascinating.”
And the urine? As it turns out, it’s a great source of nitrogen for your non-edible plants, provided you dilute it with water.
“With dogs, they turn the grass on your lawn brown because the nitrogen is too concentrated,” Maynard explained. “But outside the awful brown spot is a really bright green spot where the nitrogen is less concentrated.”