Are you a composting gardener? Do you eschew modern plumbing and prefer to relieve yourself in the great outdoors?

Well, here’s some encouraging news: The National Trust, a British organization that oversees the conservation of historic homes, gardens, and parks in the UK, is encouraging the male staff at Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire to sing anchors away outdoors atop a “pee bale” which is used for composting.

Say what? Wimpole Hall’s head gardener, Philip Whaites, explains:

For eight weeks now, male members of our garden and estate teams have been using the outdoor straw bale when nature calls, which all goes towards our eco-friendly composting system here at Wimpole. The pee bale is excellent matter to add to our compost heap to stimulate the composting process; and with over 400 acres of gardens and parkland to utilise compost, we need all the help we can get. Of course we’re very careful to make sure the pee bale is only in use out of visitor hours, as we don’t want to scare the public. And it doesn’t smell.
Rosemary Hopper, master composter at Wimpole Hall, clarifies further:
Peeing on a compost heap activates the composting process and helps to produce a ready supply of lovely organic matter to add back to the garden. With the ready supply of fallen leaves at this time of year, it’s a great time to get composting. Adding a little pee just helps get it all going; it’s totally safe and a bit of fun too.
But why are Wimpole Hall's female staffers, including Hopper (who obviously knows a thing or two about composting), excluded from the pee party? You might think it has do with logistics but Whaites claims it’s because male urine is less acidic than female urine, and in turn, a better composting additive. As commenters over at TreeHugger note, birth control pills and estrogen could play a part in the female no-pee policy.

Still, I’m thinking modesty and logistics does a play large part in the decision even though the National Trust points to the chemical composition of urine. And I can’t help wonder if there are renegade ladypee-ers at Wimpole Hall that pop squat when no one is looking. And can you imagine the reprimand that would result if a female staffer were caught yellow-handed while “relieving herself on the men’s only pee bale”? 

Speculation and matters of urination segregation aside, Wimpole Hall's pee bale has eco-benefits that extend beyond composting: by the end of the year, an estimated 1,000 trips to the estate's traditional men's lavatory will have been prevented, resulting in daily water savings of up to 30 percent.

So, MNN readers both male and female, I ask you this: do you use human urine as a composting additive? Or are you of the "gross, no way, never, not even in the shower" opinion? 

Via [TreeHugger]

Image: The National Trust; thumbail: Tom Conway

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Step right up, don't be (pee) shy
There's a whole lot of men-only alfresco urination going on in the gardens of Wimpole Hall in the UK. But why are the ladies excluded?