Potty Training

I never cease to be amazed at how slow I am to learn better ways of doing things. This is most noticeable for me with gardening. I’m terrible at feeding plants, for instance, yet I know that there’s a very easy way to give them an all-round organic fertiliser that’s always within reach. Urine….liquid gold, as they say, but I’ve only ever used it sporadically even though I’ve got the book Liquid Gold by Carol Steinfeld and I’ve read all about the benefits. But then a few weeks ago I fractured my hip, and one thing that became a real pain was getting up two or three times during the night to go for a pee. So, I thought, why not use our kids’ old potty as a chamber pot to be kept under my bed. Ah, the joy of just swinging your legs out of bed, reaching for the pot, having a pee, and then shoving the pot back under the bed. I strongly recommend this to anyone plagued by frequent nightly visits to the toilet. Anyway, every morning I now have some organic fertiliser that just needs to be watered down about 10:1 and then poured into the watering can ready to be used on the plants.

I’ve got a square foot garden outside my flat, and although it’s not a good time of year for growing much, this is the time for cucumbers. If I don’t feed them, then the lower leaves die off and the plant becomes a straggly, sad sight which is besieged by melon flies. By hanging up a plastic bottle with smallish holes in and a couple of inches of guava juice, you can trap some of the melon flies (plus a load of other insects, unfortunately) and end up with a few cucumbers which are edible. However, the most resilient plants are healthy, well-fed ones, and although my square foot garden is in a different place to my house garden, and has better soil, nevertheless I think that it is the urine that makes the plants so much better. Here’s a picture – the net’s to keep cats off. I still get melon flies attacking them (I also find woodlice on them!) but I’ve had a good number of fine cucumbers.

Here’s one of the cucumbers impersonating my daughter’s smile.

The question is, will I continue to do this now that I can see for myself the benefits? I’m sure I will for my square foot garden, where I’m on my own, but doing it at my house requires overcoming the awkwardness of carrying pots of urine through the house and past the guests who are happily munching on cucumber sandwiches. Strange how difficult it can be to do what you know is right if it means looking a bit stupid in front of your friends! Never mind, I think I’m now at least potty-trained.

Don Latter


About transitionsl

I've been an English teacher for the best part of 30 years, teaching in England, Tanzania, Brunei, Australia and Hong Kong. I've always been interested in nature and environmental issues, but it was the discovery of Peak Oil about five years ago that galvanised me into trying to help my local community to prepare for what will be a dramatically different world to the one many of us have been used to. I've been helping to run a transition group, following the guidelines created by Rob Hopkins's Transition Movement in the UK. This blog is an attempt to engage in discussion with a wider group of people in Hong Kong on the ways to transition from our current oil dependency to a state of fossil-free local resilience.
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