It is true that the tomatoes are leggy and the peppers not a deep dark green as they should be. They seem to be telling me that they are in short supply of something–and probably on or all of N, P and K.

I have a long list of excuses–and some reasons–why our garden is anemic this year. But I’ll save the whining and move right to one possible partial solution.

For the P, I recommend pee.

I still have the Starbucks cappuccino bottle on the working shelf in the garden shed but have not used it thus far. I’m about the correct that oversight.

The bottle is marked at the 6 ounce level (measured to volume in a measuring cup and marked with a permanent marker.)

Six ounces in a full gallon (128 ounces) milk jug comes out just about perfect for the recommended 20-to-1 ratio.

See To Pee or Not to Pee from Fragments past and the link therein to Barbara Pleasant’s informative article on home-brew liquid fertilizer.

Peecycling may help ward off the phosphorus crisis that may make the US more dangerously dependent for this mineral than we have been for oil.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Wow. Who knew? I grew up on a farm, but never realized the importance of phosphorous. Of course I do know how it’s produced. On the family farm, we used manure–there was always lots of it, since it was a mixed farm. I grew up appreciating the smell!

  2. i did not know the US had a phosphorus crisis. My fil worked for Monsanto in Middle Tennessee, and my husband used to prospect for phosphate there, as a summer job. The chem companies mined it mostly in Middle TN,and Florida. That was a long time ago. Maybe they have depleted it by now.